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Robinson Crusoe: Individualism and Individuality

Individualism: (M.K.)

The novel of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, is an autobiography of an individual


man who spends many years on an isolated island. Defoe reveals the idea of
individualism through the life of his hero, Robinson. On the isolated island, he is
able, by his skill, to provide himself with all sorts of comforts. Yet, the novel does not
show any human feelings and emotions. Robinson decides his own way through life
according to his own thoughts and desires.

From the beginning, Crusoe seems to have rambling thought of going to sea. No
advice can change his desires even if his father gives him excellent advices,
telling him that only men of desperate and superior fortunes go abroad in search of
adventures. However, he does no listen to his fathers advice and gets a free
passage on a ship of a friends father heading to London. Robinson is a symbol of
the typical human nature in its weakness in front of temptation and over-ambition.
He is not satisfied with the quiet middle state of life. Consequently, he goes through
terrible circumstances owing to his original sin. First, his ship has a storm in the first
voyage, so he promises God to repent and to never go to sea again. However, he
breaks his promise after the end of the danger. He even does not intend to tell his
family about his voyage as he has no emotions for them. This proves that he is
hard-hearted and disobedient.

In spite of his last test, he goes on a voyage bound to Guinea. On the way, his ship
is attacked by Moorish pirates, and he becomes a slave. While preparing to escape,
he does not tell anyone about his plans. He even sells Xury who helps him during
his escape. After he manages to escape, he goes to Brazil where he becomes a
successful planter. There, he has no acquaintances, except for his neighbour, but
there no real friendship between them. Although he enjoys a good life in Brazil,
Crusoe feels dissatisfied with it. He proves to be ungrateful to God who saves him
twice. He does not learn the lesson of the storm and slavery.

Crusoe decides to join a voyage to bring slaves from the African coast. His pride
makes him unsatisfied with his life. This unreasonable refusal of the settled life
provokes Gods anger at last. As a result, his ship is sunk, and he lives for twenty-
eight years on an isolated island. During this long time, the reader sees that there is
no feeling of missing his family. Even when his wife dies, he does not show any
feeling of grief. The novel does not deal with human relationship.

In Emma, Austen is mainly concerned with romantic affairs and human relationship.
She is affected by the ideas of romanticism.

Individualism: (K.K.)
In Robinson Crusoe, Defoe reveals his idea through the life of his hero, Robinson.
Yet, the novel hardly expresses any human feeling and emotion. Robinson also
decides his own way through life according to his own thoughts and inclination. He
has innate love for adventure. He refuses to lead a stable life or to remain inactive
for any length of time. He is seized by an overwhelming desire to travel abroad.

He rejects his father's advice to accept the middle position in life. His desire to go
to the sea pushes him to leave home and go on voyages. He is over-ambitious; he
wants to get rich quicker. He is not satisfied with the quiet middle station of life.
During the storm that overtakes the ship, which he has boarded from Hull to go to
London, he decides never again to think of going on a voyage if God saves his life.
After he is saved, he refuses to turn home. He even does not intend to tell his father
about his latest news. He has no longing for his family. He proves to be hard-hearted
and disobedient. In spite of his lost decision, he goes on a voyage bound to Africa.
His ship is attacked by Pirates and he is held as a slave. After he manages to
escape, he settles in Brazil. He becomes a planter and his plantation starts to
flourish. However, he is not content with this life. He proves to be ungrateful to
God's blessings. He does not appreciate God's favour after he is saved. He does not
learn the lesson of his slavery. He decides that he must get rich quicker, to that end,
he joins a voyage to buy slaves. His pride makes him unsatisfied with his life. This
reckless abandonment of a settled life for an illicit venture at last provokes God's
anger. The reader sees that there is no feeling of missing his family. When he turns
home and finds that his wife is dead, he does not show any feeling of grief. The
reader sees that there is no profusion of human feeling. The novel does not deal
with human relationship.

In Emma, Austen is mainly concerned with the romantic affairs and the human
relationships. She is affected by the ideas of the Romanticism.

The Theme of Individuality: (K.K.)

Defoes novel celebrates the idea of individuality. This means that the character
lives according to his own way. He serves his own way. Thus, the novel focuses on
the life of individual character. Robinson, the main character of this novel, seeks
self-realization, so he yearns to go his own way through life. He acts independently
and as he chooses, against the advice of others. This idea goes with the concepts of
age of reason. Defoes novel is emotionless because it was written in the Age of
Reason. Thus, it appeals to the readers mind and focuses on the importance of the
individual. Defoes novel is mainly concerned with the idea of individuality which is
shown through Crusoes life.

Robinson Crusoe deals with the life of an individual character who yarns to work his
way up from the common middle position of life to a high one. Robinson decides his
way through life according to his own thoughts and inclination. He is overambitious.
He wants to get rich quicker. He is not satisfied with the quiet middle station of life.
He seeks self-realization, so he refuses to lead a stable life or to remain inactive for
any length of time, and as a result, he rejects his fathers advice to accept the
middle position of life. His desire to go to the sea pushes him to leave home and go
on voyages. He is seized by an overwhelming desire to travel abroad. He goes on a
voyage bound for London against his fathers will. During the voyage, a storm
overtakes the ship, he feels regretful and decides veer again to think of going on a
voyage if God saves his life. After he is saved, he refuses to turn home. He has no
longing for his family. He proves to be hard-hearted and disobedient. He follows his
own inclination and design. In spite of his former oath, he goes on a voyage bound
to Africa as a trader. He succeeds in making some money and thereafter decides to
become a merchant. He wants to create a life by his own way. He yarns to succeed
as an individual. He does not want to depend on his father or inheritance. This time,
his ship is attacked by pirates and he is held as a slave. He finds himself alone and
miserable. He makes plan to set himself free. When his master asks him to take a
boat into the sea to catch fish, he prepares to furnish himself, not for a fishing
business but for a voyage. He takes the necessary equipment and food for a long
voyage. This shows that he follows his individual thoughts.

After he succeeds to escape from slavery, he settles in Brazil. He becomes a planter.


He starts a new life alone. He plants tobacco and other crops and gets prosperous.
This shows that he is self-made man. This is related to the idea of individual
economy. Yet, he feels dissatisfied with this life. He feels that he gained nothing
from all his adventures. He finds that he leads the same life which his father has
recommended to him. He feels lonely because he has no relatives or friends in this
place. This is not what he has looked forward to achieve. His pride makes him think
that he deserves better life. The life of a planter is inferior to his abilities. He is not
content with this life. He proves to be ungrateful to Gods blessings. He does not
appreciate Gods favour after he is saved twice. He does not learn from the previous
lessons. This shows his obstinacy. He decides that he must get rich quicker. To that
end, he joins a voyage to buy slaves. This reckless abandonment of a settled life for
an illicit venture at last provokes Gods anger. His ship is wrecked and he finds
himself marooned on an isolated island. He is the only survivor. Yet, he does not
actually give way to despair. He does not keep lamenting his fate. He takes action.
He adapts himself to these circumstances. He starts to discover the place whether it
is inhabited or not. He organizes his life on this island.

He swims to the ship and obtains a large number of articles which can be useful to
him on the desolate island. Then, he plans his habitation. He builds a hut and digs a
cave into the rock. He makes a calendar to keep count of passing of time. He makes
clothes of animals skins. He grows barley and rice. He sets up a regular farm to
obtain as much food as he needs. He manages to make bread and invents a simple
candle. He also dries some fruits to store them for his use. This is related to the idea
of individual economy. He manages to create a world out of these simple available
things and sources. This shows the didactic purpose of the novel. It teaches the
reader many lessons through Robinsons character. He is a well-organized practical
man. He takes advantage of everything even if it is small and trivial. He makes use
of everything available to him. He manages to survive on this island. He does not
postpone his work until tomorrow. He does not give up easily. He starts to rationalize
things especially after the first year. He cares only about his own benefit. He has no
emotion. This is seen when he kills a goat which has a kid by her side. The meat of
the goat and the kid provides him with food for several days. This shows that man
should not allow emotion to come over reason.

In the beginning, he feels imprisoned and isolated but after two years, he becomes
more comfortable, and thanks God for his blessings and help. He is very happy to
live in a solitary condition and in liberty of society. His isolation is a kind of salvation
for him.

In conclusion, the idea of individualism is stressed and highlighted in this novel.


Robinsons character refers to the life of people from the middle class. They dont
inherit money but they make it by their own effort, and with great deal of labour
and pain. Robinson does not act passively but he plans his life. He has certain vision
which he wants to achieve. He has to face a lot of difficulties and pains. He has to
struggle for his own survival

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