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Daniel Defoe--- ROBINSON CRUSOE

Defoe wrote what is often called the first English novel, Robinson Crusoe. Defoes,
The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, was published as a fictional
memoir in 1719. Realizing that fake autobiographies made a good profit, Defoe wrote four
more first-person narratives: Moll Flanders, A Journal of the Plague Year, and The
Fortunate Mistress, or Roxana. All of his novels presented realistic characters in a realistic
manner; as a result many critics see him as the forerunner to writers like Theodore Dreiser and
Ernest Hemingway. Robinson Crusoe was inspired by the true story of Alexander Selkirk, a
Scottish sailor marooned for many years on the island of Yernandez, an uninhabited island in the
Pacific.
In this novel, according to the Enlightenment philosophy we find four stages of the
development of human kind:
-

1st stage: he makes his living by hunting and fishing;

2nd stage: appears agriculture;

3rd stage: Friday appears, marks the beginning of the relationship between master and
servant;

4th stage: The arrival s of other people on the island; the beginning of a colony: land is
distributed among the members of the colony and private property begins.

THEMES
1. FEAR: Robinson Crusoe must overcome his fear in order to survive his long ordeal on the
deserted island. The trial by fear begins when he runs about like a madman, scared of every
shadow, and sleeps in a tree with a weapon. His ability to funnel his fear into productivity and
creativity allows him to survive under extreme conditions. Crusoe masters his fear when he faces
the ultimate challenge- the devil. Investigating a cave, he is met by a pair of eyes. He rushes to
confront the devil and discovers a dying goat.
2. HUMAN CONDITION: R.C. is a meditation on the human condition. Finding himself alone
in a deserted island, Crusoe struggles to maintain reason, order, and civilization. He struggles
with- and eventually triumphs over-nature.
3.MONEY: is an important theme in R.C. At the beginning of the narrative, Crusoe details how
much money he has, what he does with it, and what he gains by his actions. On the island,

money lose all value. Crusoes hope of returning to England is symbolized by these tokens of
civilizationon the island, the money is only a reminder of his old life and he treasures it as a
memento.
4.INDUSTRIALIZATION:Crusoe immediately sets out to be productive and self-sufficient on
the island.
The major theme is the sin has its retribution but peace can be found through forgiveness
and belief. Crusoe is the prodigal son(like the one presented in the New Testament of the
Bible). He runs away to sea against the wishes of his family. A series of disasters happen to him
as a sailor, as punishment for his rebellious nature.When Crusoe finally lands in Brazil, he
becomes a prosperous planter. Still unsatisfied with his wealth, he again provokes Providence
by becoming a slave trader. As punishment, his ship is wrecked in a storm, and he alone escapes
to an uninhabited island, where Crusoe undergoes a spiritual regeneration, becoming a
Christian and converting Friday to Christianity as well. After 28 yrs. on the island, he is finally
able to escape. The prodigal son returns to England and finds himself very rich due to the
ongoing success of the Brazilian plantation. Crusoe is mature enough to handle his good
fortune in life; he settles down, marries, and becomes generous with both family and friends.
His changed soul, no longer rebellious, finds peace.
A minor theme of the novel is the glorification of the imperialist dream. Crusoe is the
Englishman who colonizes the island, civilizes the native, and protects his colony from
enemies. Crusoe both consciously and unconsciously behaves as an agent of the British Empire.
STYLE:
1.NARRATIVE: R.C. is a fictional autobiography written from a first-person point of view,
apparently written by an old man looking back on his life. The story also includes material from
an incomplete diary, which is integrated into the novel.
2.SPIRITUAL FABLE: Can be viewed as a spiritual or religious fable. Defoe was very
concerned with religious issues, and nearly became a Dissenter minister. The book does show
similarities to the four different types of spiritual fable. Firstly, Crusoe, like many puritans,
keeps a diary in which he records his progress toward salvation. The second form of spiritual
fable is the guide or advice tradition. Is aimed at particular audiences(seamen, farmers, young
people, women) to point out the dangers of human existence. The tale of Providence is the

3rdtradition evident in Crusoes story. God is believed to be a being who intervenes in the affairs
of people. The last form is the pilgrim allegory, a modernization of the parable about the
Prodigal son, or the story of Jonah.
3. VERISIMILITUDE. Although heavily influenced by religious concerns and technique,
Defoes use ofrealism , or verisimilitude, is perhaps the most singular aspect of the work. What
Defoe did was apply and thereby popularize modern realism. The realistic elements of R.C.
include the lists, time scale, repetition, diary, and Crusoes ordinary nature. The reader could
almost use R.C. as a handbook if ever stuck on a deserted island.
4.ALLEGORY. Many critics view R.C. as an allegory for Defoes life.
Sir Walter Scott praised the work for its realism. In his Das Capital, Karl Max deemed R.C.
as capitalist propaganda. James Joyce explored the colonialist theme of R.C. Since then, writers
such as Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, and Edward Said have viewed the novel as an allegory of
colonialism.