Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe was born in 1660, to a butcher. He attended a school for Dissenters and studied to become a minister but decided to become a businessman. He moved to London, opening up a successful business and later becoming a politician. In 1719, Defoe published Robinson Crusoe, a novel about a mariner who gets stranded on a desert island and has to survive there until he is eventually rescued. It was a very popular book in its time and even nowadays. Some themes explored in this book are those of Christian perspective, the unknown, and the need for the company of others.

The exposition is the part of the story that introduces the main characters and the plot of the story. In this book, the exposition ends with Robinson's shipwreck on the deserted island. In the exposition, we are introduced to Robinson, his love of the sea against his father's wishes, and the events leading up to his shipwreck.

Foreshadowing is used in Robinson Crusoe, for example, when Robinson's father tells him that people in the middle class don't end up sold as slaves. Another example of foreshadowing is when Robinson first goes to sea and is shipwrecked in a storm.

The moods in the story change. For example, in most of the exposition, the mood is contemplative because Robinson is recollecting what happened to him. When Robinson Crusoe ends up on his island, the mood becomes desperate.

The event that started the action was Robinson's shipwreck on the desert island. This is now the rising action.

The motif of this book is survival. Robinson Crusoe has to survive various situations he is placed in, such as slavery, being stranded on a deserted island, and, later in the book, the cannibals who sometimes visit the island. Another motif in this book is God's providence, helping Robinson survive in these tough situations.

The story is told from the first-person perspective. This means that Robinson is narrating as if he is actually there and the events are currently happening. This is because much of the book is written in a journal format.


Christian Perspective

One major theme in Robinson Crusoe is that of Christianity and how coming back to God changes Robinson's perspective. He is now thankful for being able to survive on the island, and instead of being afraid and depressed, he is happy with his lot in life. Included in this theme is that of God's guidance through a dream, shown when Robinson dreams of rescuing a prisoner from the savages. Also included in this theme is that of evangelism, when Robinson teaches Friday about God and Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross.

Learning from Experience

On page 190, Robinson reflects on the idea that

"Thus we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it."

In this quote, Robinson is probably referring to the fact that he did not realize how good the "middle position in life" (being settled in one place) was until he lost it and got first taken as a slave, then stranded on a deserted island. Another theme this illustrates is that of learning from experience, not from advice.

The Unknown

Another theme explored in Robinson Crusoe is that of the unknown. Robinson Crusoe is washed up on an unknown, deserted island. He is afraid that a wild animal might eat him during the night because he doesn't know that there are no dangerous animals on the island. Later, he builds a boat and tries to explore the unknown shores of his island. Another unknown Robinson fears is the possibility of cannibals in the area.


The theme of savages is also explored in Robinson Crusoe. In the 18th century, people in Western Europe called everyone who did not have a civilization like them savages, and this also extends to Robinson, who refers to the cannibals that visited his island as savages. At first, he plans to kill the cannibals when they visit his island, but then he realizes that their judgement is not in his hands, but in God's, who did not destroy them yet.

Robinson decides that the next time savages come to his island, he would attempt to rescue one of them to get a navigator who will help him escape. He justifies the killing of the savages that he will have to do to save their captive with the fact that if they had the chance, they would have killed him as well.

Most Europeans' mindsets were that the "savages" were to be servants, and they were the masters because they were more civilized. Robinson takes Friday as his servant after saving him from the other "savages", who were trying to eat him, introducing himself as his master, not as a friend.

Loneliness and the Need for the Company of Others

One of the most important themes in Robinson Crusoe is that of loneliness and the need for the company of others. When Robinson sees the wrecked ship, he immediately goes there, at the risk of being swept out to sea, to see if there are any survivors and potentially rescue them. He also plans to rescue a prisoner from the savages to have a companion and someone who would help him get away from the island.

Robinson is overjoyed when he saves Friday from the savages and has the company of another person on the island, a useful and loyal servant. He is pleased that Friday is loyal to him and loves him. We find this to be true when Friday says that he would rather die than go back to his own people without his master. Later, he saves some more captives from the savages, one of whom is a Spaniard, and the other is Friday's father.

Having more friendly companions helped Robinson greatly. For the first time, a plan of escape became viable, as they could help him build a bigger boat and get to Brazil. They also helped him with other tasks around the island, such as planting crops and making raisins, raising goats, harvesting wood, etc.

The Dark Side of Society

Another theme explored in Robinson Crusoe is that of the dark side of society. Two examples are the cannibals who come to Robinson's island and the mutineers. While Robinson does want other people with him, he doesn't seek the company of bad people just for the sake of society. He stays away from the savages when they come to the island because he doesn't want to get eaten nor to become a murderer like they were. Robinson wouldn't have joined the mutiny even to get away from the island.

I think the moral of the story is to be satisfied with where you are and what you have, and to trust in God for help. That is what Robinson learned after all his travels, and in the end, he gets married and has kids and lives in England, just like his father would have wanted for him. He would have had a similar result if he had just listened to his father and would not have had to go through being stranded and kidnapped to get there. Robinson put his trust in God and was rewarded by not only getting off the island, but also making a fortune while he was away. He alludes to the story of Job in the Bible when describing his fortune. In conclusion, Robinson's journey wasn't a waste of time for him, but a blessing in disguise.