Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...©
Crusoe is an adventure novel presented as an autobiography by the fictional
character Robinson Crusoe. The novel was published in London on April 25,
1719, by William Taylor in the Ship at Pater Noster Row. The preface pretends
that the account of Crusoe's adventures is nonfiction, saying, "The Editor
believes the thing to be a just History of Fact; neither is there any Appearance
of Fiction in it."
Crusoe is the shortened version of the title of Daniel Defoe's novel.
The full title appearing in the 1719 book was The Life and Strange Surprizing
Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty
Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near
the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by
Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how
he was at last as strangely deliver~ez_rsquo~d by Pyrates.
time is the second half of the seventeenth century, from 1651 to 1694.
The places include the following:
England: York, Hull,
Yarmouth, London, Dover
Africa: Guinea and
coastal regions to the south
South America: Brazil
and an island off northeast Venezuela, near the mouth of the Orinoco River
Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid and other Spanish cities; Toulouse, Paris, and
Robinson Crusoe (bornRobinson
Kreutznaer): Englishman with a yearning to go to sea and conduct trade.
Crusoe is an intelligent, curious, independent, hard-working, and risk-taking
man who undergoes a spiritual awakening on the island on which he is marooned.
He never loses his desire to travel and even returns later to the island
on which he spent nearly three decades. Crusoe is a capitalist who believes
in middle-class values. In his relations with non-Caucasians, he believes
his proper role is as master rather than servant. He is suspicious of Catholics,
although he generally gets along with them. In literature, Crusoe has become
something of an archetype, representing any man or woman struggling alone
against the forces of nature and against his or her own inner fears.
Immigrant from Bremen, Germany, who conducts a profitable business
in Hull, England, and moves to York. His family name is Kreutznaer
but the English corrupt it into Crusoe. The entire family then uses
that name. Mr. Crusoe urges his son to become a lawyer and lead a respectable,
Woman from a family named Robinson who married her husband after
he moved to York. She strongly supports her husband's view that Robinson
Crusoe should become a lawyer.
First Captain (London-bound
ship): Father of Crusoe's friend. After the friend invites Crusoe to sail
to London on his father's ship, Crusoe accepts the offer. In a raging storm,
the ship sinks but all aboard get safely to shore. Then the captain tells
Crusoe that he should never again go to sea but instead should return home.
The captain thinks Crusoe is a Jonah, someone who brings bad luck.
Second Captain (Guinea-bound
ship): Captain who likes Crusoe and agrees to take him to Guinea, Africa.
Third Captain: Captain
of a ship on which Crusoe makes a return trip to Guinea.
Xury: Young Moor
from North Africa who helps Crusoe escape slavery.
Fourth Captain (Ship
to Brazil): Kindly Portuguese captain who takes Crusoe aboard off the coast
of Africa and takes him to Brazil.
Owner of Sugar Plantation:
In Brazil, Crusoe lodges with this man and learns agriculture from him.
who is a business partner of Crusoe in Brazil.
Negro Slave, European
Servant: Crusoe buys them and sets them to work on his tobacco plantation
Widow: Honest woman
in London who safeguards Crusoe's profits from his enterprises. She was
the wife of the Second Captain, who died shortly after returning to London.
Three Merchants and Planters:
In Brazil, they persuade Crusoe to accompany them on a trip to Guinea to
buy slaves. Crusoe is to act as the trader.
Friday: Young savage
whom Crusoe rescues from cannibals. In gratitude, Friday becomes Crusoe's
Crusoe and Friday rescue him from cannibals.
and Friday rescue him from cannibals.
Fifth Captain (Ship
to England From Crusoe's Island): Captain of an English ship. Mutineers
depose him, then take him bound to Crusoe's island. Crusoe helps him overthrow
the mutineers, then returns to England on the captain's ship.
against the fifth captain.
Two Loyal Crewmen:
They stand by the fifth captain during the mutiny.
Crusoe's Two Nephews:
Sons of one of his brothers. In 1694, Crusoe accompanies one of his nephews
to the East Indies.
Crusoe's Wife: Crusoe
marries her after he returns to England from his adventures. She dies a
few years later.
Children of Crusoe:
Two sons and one daughter.
of Friday's God. Friday becomes a Christian after Crusoe instructs him
in the faith.
Savages, Slaves, Natives
of Various Lands
Michael J. Cummings...©
York, England, where he was born in 1632, eighteen-year-old Robinson Crusoe
yearns for a life of adventure on the high seas. His two brothers previously
left home. One, a lieutenant-colonel in an English regiment, died at Flanders
fighting Spaniards. The other simply left and was never heard from again.
father strongly opposes his son~ez_rsquo~s dream of sailing off, urging him instead
to study law and establish himself as a respectable member of society.
Going to sea would be folly, he tells the boy. His mother supports her
year later, while visiting the town of Hull~ez_ndash~where his father, a German
from Bremen, first lived after arriving in England~ez_ndash~Robinson runs into a
friend whose father is master of a ship about to sail to London. The friend
invites Robinson along, free of charge. So powerful is Robinson~ez_rsquo~s desire
to travel that he embarks without even sending word to his parents. The
day is September 1, 1651.
learns immediately of the perils of sea travel, for the ship encounters
a raging squall. Seasick and terror-stricken, Crusoe vows to return home
and never again go to sea if he survives the ordeal. The next day, the
wind and sea grow calm, and at night Crusoe sleeps well. In the morning,
the sun shines and the wind stills. Over a heady drink with his friend,
Crusoe forgets his vow. On the sixth day, the ship puts in at Yarmouth
Yards. Eight days later, it sails again~ez_ndash~into a storm so furious that it
frightens even the seasoned crewmen.
sea ran mountains high,~ez_rdquo~ Crusoe says, ~ez_ldquo~and broke upon us every three or
ship springs a leak. Four feet of water lie in the hold, and the level
continues to rise. The crewmen fire guns to attract attention. Just before
the ship sinks, a boat from a nearby ship takes all aboard to shore. Crusoe
and the others walk back to Yarmouth. The master of the ship (the father
of Crusoe~ez_rsquo~s friend) urges Robinson to go home and ~ez_ldquo~not tempt Providence~ez_rdquo~
further. But Crusoe continues on to London, by land, in part because returning
home would be a concession of failure. People would laugh. He would be
London, he embarks on another ship, this one bound for Guinea on the western
coast of Africa. Again, his passage is free, for the captain took a liking
to Crusoe when he met him on shore and told him he need only serve as the
captain~ez_rsquo~s messmate and companion during the voyage. Crusoe receives an
education of sorts on the trip:
got a competent knowledge of the mathematics and the rules of navigation,
learned how to keep an account of the ship's course, take an observation,
and, in short, to understand some things that were needful to be understood
by a sailor . . . .~ez_rdquo~
also earns money as a merchant, bringing back to London gold dust worth
300 pounds, and decides to return to Guinea on another trip. However, the
kindly captain will not be aboard, for he died shortly after returning
home. Before the second trip, Crusoe deposits 200 pounds of his money for
safe keeping with the widow of the captain, an honest woman who has treated
Crusoe~ez_rsquo~s second voyage, Turkish pirates capture the ship and take everyone
aboard to the African Moorish port of Salee, where the pirate captain makes
slave. One of Crusoe~ez_rsquo~s duties is to catch fish under the watchful eye of
his master, and he becomes an expert at this task. After two years, an
opportunity for escape presents itself. One day, the captain stays behind
while Crusoe goes out on a fishing boat with two Moors. Crusoe overpowers
one Moor, who swims ashore, and threatens to throw the other~ez_ndash~a boy named
Xury~ez_ndash~overboard unless he serves Crusoe. The boy vows obedience. They sail
southward to an island, where Xury spies a Portuguese ship. After Crusoe
and Xury row out to it, the captain welcomes them aboard and even buys
Crusoe~ez_rsquo~s boat for 80 pieces of eight, payable when the ship reaches its
destination, Brazil. He also buys Xury under the condition that he free
him in 10 years if he converts to Christianity.
arriving in Brazil at the Bay de Todos Los Sontos, Crusoe takes lodging
with an honest man who runs a sugar plantation. From him, Crusoe learns
agriculture and begins a plantation himself, growing food and tobacco in
partnership with a neighbor, an Englishman named Wells. Meanwhile, the
Portuguese ship captain carries back to Europe a message from Crusoe to
the widow in London (the caretaker of his finances). It requests that she
entrust the captain with money and certain merchandise for delivery to
Crusoe when the captain returns to Brazil. All goes as planned, and Crusoe
sells some of the merchandise at a handsome profit, then buys a Negro slave
and hires a European servant. His plantation prospers.
Crusoe spends four years in Brazil, three businessmen ask him to accompany
them on a trip to Guinea to buy slaves. Crusoe is to do the trading for
them because of his knowledge of Africa and the slave trade; he will receive
slaves of his own in the bargain. He accepts the offer, asking his business
partners to arrange to have his plantation looked after while he is gone.
And so, on Sept. 1, 1659, eight years to the day after he left England,
Crusoe embarks again.
the ship encounters a terrible storm that threatens to sink the ship. Crusoe
and 10 others abandon the vessel and row fast to try to make it to the
nearest shore. A giant wave capsizes the boat and carries Crusoe to land.
The sea swallows the others. Crusoe describes his plight:
I was wet, had no clothes
to shift me, nor anything either to eat or drink to comfort me; neither
did I see any prospect before me but that of perishing with hunger or being
devoured by wild beasts; and that which was particularly afflicting to
me was, that I had no weapon, either to hunt and kill any creature for
my sustenance, or to defend myself against any other creature that might
desire to kill me for theirs. In a word, I had nothing about me but
a knife, a tobacco-pipe, and a little tobacco in a box.
a search turns up a source of fresh water, to Crusoe~ez_rsquo~s relief, and he spends
the night sleeping in a tree to avoid becoming the prey of any beast that
may inhabit the island. In the morning, he discovers that the ship had
not sunk, but did run aground, and he swims out to it and pulls himself
aboard on a rope hanging over the side. First, he finds biscuits and rum
to nourish him and raise his spirits. Then, using spars and masts, he builds
a raft and loads supplies onto it: cheese, dried meat, corn, carpenter~ez_rsquo~s
tools~ez_ndash~including saws, an axe, and a hammer~ez_ndash~two fowling pieces (shotguns),
two pistols, powder horns, shot, two swords, and two barrels of gunpowder.
next day, Crusoe returns to the ship for more supplies: nails, spikes,
a grindstone, bullets, muskets, another fowling piece, more gunpowder and
shot, clothes, a hammock, and bedding. Aboard the ship are two cats and
a dog. He carries the cats back to shore while the dog swims on his own.
At least he now has living beings to keep him company. He continues to
return to the ship over the next several days to pick it clean of supplies,
including knives, forks, scissors, razors, fountain pens, ink, and paper.
He stores most of his supplies in a tent fashioned out of sails. The tent
sits next to a hollow worn into a hillside.
time, he finds grapes, lemons, and other fruits, as well as vegetables,
growing abundantly. After discovering wild goats on the island, he learns
how to raise them and make cheese, milk, and butter. He also uses them
as a source of meat, along with pigeons and turtles. For company, he tames
a parrot and teaches it to speak in the first few years of his residence
on the island. Eventually, he takes on a wild look, having a beard and
wearing goatskin apparel. Over his head, he wears a goatskin umbrella.
becomes extremely important, a means to seek forgiveness for his sins,
including the sin of ignoring his father's advice. He reads the Bible,
and it offers him solace against his loneliness.
years pass. Crusoe comes to appreciate the peace and quiet of his little
world, in which he is both ruler and subject. One day, he makes a startling
discovery: a human footprint in the sand.
How it came thither I knew
not, nor could I in the least imagine; but after innumerable fluttering
thoughts, like a man perfectly confused and out of myself, I came home
to my fortification, not feeling, as we say, the ground I went on, but
terrified to the last degree, looking behind me at every two or three steps,
mistaking every bush and tree, and fancying every stump at a distance to
be a man. Nor is it possible to describe how many various shapes
my affrighted imagination represented things to me in, how many wild ideas
were found every moment in my fancy, and what strange, unaccountable whimsies
came into my thoughts by the way.
He builds a wall around his
home and keeps muskets at the ready.
more years pass. One night, the sound of gunfire startles him. In the morning,
he finds the wreckage of a ship and, later, human remains along the shore.
From a lookout, he spies savages around a fire over which they cook human
beings. Cannibals! They have just finished eating victims. When they are
preparing two more men for the fire, Crusoe charges them with two muskets
and a sword. He manages to rescue and befriend one of the men, a young
savage. So grateful is the man that he pledges to serve Crusoe forever,
and Crusoe names him Friday after the day of the week on which he effected
the rescue. "I . . . taught him to say Master," Crusoe says, "and then
let him know that was to be my name: I likewise taught him to say Yes and
No and to know the meaning of them."
outfits Friday with clothes~ez_ndash~linen underpants from the ship, a goatskin
jerkin, and a cap of hare skin. Over time, Crusoe teaches Friday elementary
English and the rudiments of the Christian religion, which Friday adopts.
One day Crusoe asks Friday how he came to be captured, and Friday says
the ~ez_ldquo~nation~ez_rdquo~ of savages to which he belongs was overpowered by an enemy
nation that greatly outnumbered Friday~ez_rsquo~s nation. "They more many than my
nation, in the place where me was," Friday says. "They take one, two, three,
says the enemy nation of cannibals is holding the crew of the wrecked ship.
They decide to construct a boat to visit the land where the captives are
held. In the interim, however, a boat of cannibals arrives with three more
victims. Crusoe and Friday manage to save two of them, a Spaniard and Friday~ez_rsquo~s
father, who reunites with his son. The Spaniard is one of the crew of the
wrecked ship. Months later, the Spaniard and Friday~ez_rsquo~s father go out in
the newly constructed boat to bring back the rest of the Spaniards.
those two are gone, Crusoe and Friday sight an English ship. (It arrived
at the island after a stop in Jamaica, Crusoe discovers later.) Fourteen
men from it row ashore in a longboat. Three of the men are captives of
the others. While the captives sit under a tree, the other men enter the
woods to sleep or to explore. Crusoe then reveals himself to one of the
captives, who explains his situation: He is the captain of the ship, and
the men with him are the first mate and a passenger. The men in the woods
are mutineers; they brought only one gun from the ship. Their ringleaders
are two ~ez_ldquo~desperate villains,~ez_rdquo~ the captain says. If they are subdued,
he says, the rest of the men would return to the ship and abandon their
mutiny. Crusoe gives the three men firearms and, moments later, they confront
the men in the woods. They kill one man and wound another. When the latter
cries for help from the rest of the mutineers, the captain tells him to
make peace with God, then strikes him with the butt of his musket ~ez_ldquo~so that
he never spoke more.~ez_rdquo~ The other men surrender and plead for mercy, and
the captain says he will spare them if they agree to man the ship. The
mutineers vow to be loyal, and the captain believes them.
December of 1686, with Friday accompanying him, Crusoe returns to England
on the ship manned by most of the restored and repentant crew. A few of
the mutineers remain on the island to escape the wrath of English justice.
After arriving in England on June 11, 1687, Crusoe discovers that his father
and mother are dead but that relatives of the family live in Yorkshire.
Businessmen with an interest in the ship and its cargo~ez_ndash~grateful that Crusoe
had saved the vessel and its crew~ez_ndash~reward him with 200 pounds sterling.
traveling to Lisbon in search of records about his lands in Brazil, Crusoe
learns that his plantation has made him incredibly wealthy:
I was now master, all on
a sudden, of above five thousand pounds sterling in money, and had an estate,
as I might well call it, in the Brazils, of above a thousand pounds a year,
as sure as an estate of lands in England: and, in a word, I was in a condition
which I scarce knew how to understand, or how to compose myself for the
enjoyment of it.
He sells his plantation, increasing
his wealth, and gives a generous amount to the widow who managed his accounts.
marries and becomes the father of a daughter and two sons. After his wife
dies, Crusoe goes to sea again in 1694, this time to the East Indies as
a private trader. Along the way, he visits his island and discovers that
the Spaniards (the men whom Friday~ez_rsquo~s father and the Spaniard from the wrecked
ship went to fetch in a boat) and the mutineers left behind now live there.
of them [had] made an attempt upon the mainland," Crusoe writes, "and brought
away eleven men and five women prisoners, by which, at my coming, I found
about twenty young children on the island."
remains on the island 20 days. Before he leaves, he gives the islanders
weapons and ammunition, clothing, and two craftsmen, a carpenter and a
smith. He then goes on to Brazil and there purchases a boat on which he
sends back to the island more supplies, seven more women, five cows, and
some sheep and hogs.
Defoe writes in the straightforward manner of a chronicler or diarist.
In fact, the central character, Crusoe, keeps a diary. Moreover, he tracks
time by carving the days into a post. The narrator tells his tale sequentially,
with one event following another, in simple language that even children
can understand. In telling his tale, the narrator frequently reflects on
how he went wrong and what he must do to set himself right with God. Throughout
the novel, Defoe presents not only specific details but also specific dates,
the novel. Note, for example, the following passage from Chapter VII, "Agricultural
From the 14th of August
to the 26th, incessant rain, so that I could
not stir, and was now very careful not to be much wet. In this confinement,
I began to be straitened for food: but venturing out twice, I one day killed
a goat; and the last day, which was the 26th, found a very large tortoise,
which was a treat to me, and my food was regulated thus: I ate a bunch
of raisins for my breakfast; a piece of the goat's flesh, or of the turtle,
for my dinner, broiled - for, to my great misfortune, I had no vessel to
boil or stew anything; and two or three of the turtle's eggs for my supper.
climax of the novel occurs on Crusoe's island when Crusoe helps the English
captain overcome the mutineers and regain control of his ship. This action
means that Crusoe at long last has a means to return to England. There
are also mini-climaxes in various episodes, including Crusoe's religious
awakening after he becomes ill for several days with chills, fever, and
a severe headache (Chapter VI, "Ill and Conscience Stricken") and his discovery
of a human footprint (Chapter XI, "Finds Print of Man's Foot on the Sand").
Adventure: Life as a Perilous
Crusoe goes to sea in search of high adventure rather than lead a humdrum
life in England. He finds more than his share of adventure on several ships
in stormy seas, in several countries on two continents, and on an island
on which he must tame nature, learn survival skills, and fight savages.
In some ways, he represents every man on his journey through life, as did
Odysseus in Homer's
coping with many dangers and ultimately returning home after a long time.
Importance of Religion
Crusoe not only discovers the world~ez_ndash~or a goodly part of it~ez_ndash~during his adventures.
He also discovers the importance of religion in his life. Once a lukewarm
Christian, he becomes a devout Christian after interpreting stormy seas
as signs of God's displeasure and after becoming marooned and struggling
through an illness. He writes:
I daily read the word of
God, and applied all the comforts of it to my present state. One
morning, being very sad, I opened the Bible upon these words, "I will never,
never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Immediately it occurred that these
words were to me; why else should they be directed in such a manner, just
at the moment when I was mourning over my condition, as one forsaken of
God and man? "Well, then," said I, "if God does not forsake me, of what
ill consequence can it be, or what matters it, though the world should
all forsake me, seeing on the other hand, if I had all the world, and should
lose the favour and blessing of God, there would be no comparison in the
Freedom and Slavery
the beginning of the novel, Robinson Crusoe yearns to be free and independent.
When he goes to sea, he escapes the prison of ordinary life in England.
In the rest of the novel, Crusoe repeatedly struggles for freedom~ez_ndash~from
an angry sea, from pirates who capture him, from an empty pocketbook, from
a foundering ship, from fear and hunger, from the confines of his island.
Others seek freedom as well, including mutineers, their captives, and the
captives of cannibals. Ironically, Crusoe tolerates and benefits by people
who know no freedom, slaves.
Colonialism and Capitalism
the second half of the 17th Century, when the action in the novel takes
place, European companies vied for control and exploitation of colonized
lands around the world. Crusoe appears to represent this imperialist spirit,
first when he goes to Guinea, next when he travels to Brazil and opens
a plantation, and finally when he becomes "king" of an island.
learns to depend on his wits and talents to survive. On his island, he
makes furniture, grows crops, and tames and uses animals.
loneliness on the island evolves into solitude. Being alone terrified him
when he arrived; later, aloneness became desirable. Theologian Paul Tillich
once observed, ~ez_ldquo~Language has created the word loneliness to express
the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory
of being alone.~ez_rdquo~ Crusoe came to appreciate the glory of being alone. His
anxiety at discovering a human footprint is therefore quite understandable.
based Robinson Crusoe on the real-life experiences of Scotsman Alexander
Selkirk (1676-1721), a shoemaker~ez_rsquo~s son who went to sea in 1695. In 1703,
he became sailing master on the Cinque Ports, one of two ships on
a privateering expedition under the command of William Dampier (1651-1715).
In 1704, as the ship sailed past an island group, Selkirk demanded to be
let off the ship for fear that damage it incurred during battles with Spaniards
would sink it. The crew cast him off at Más a Tierra, one of three
islands making up the Juan Fernández Islands, about 400 miles west
of Chile. His only belongings were clothing, a gun, a few tools, tobacco,
and a Bible. English seamen rescued him in February 1709 after he spent
nearly five years on the island. Spanish explorer Juan Fernández
discovered the islands in 1563 and lived on them for a short time. In Defoe's
novel, Crusoe's island is in the Atlantic Ocean, off Venezuela.
Chapter 1, Robinson Crusoe's father warns him not go to sea. "If I did
take this foolish step," Crusoe says in paraphrasing his father, "God would
not bless me." In the same chapter, Crusoe~ez_ndash~ignoring his father's warning~ez_ndash~runs
away on a London-bound ship. In a raging storm, Crusoe and the others aboard
abandon ship when it begins to sink. They make it safely to shore in a
rowboat. The master of the ship later says that the shipwreck is a sign
from God that He wants Robinson to return home to his father. Moreover,
the ship master tells Robinson, "If you do not go back, wherever you go,
you will meet with nothing but disasters and disappointments. . . ." The
warnings from Robinson's father and the ship master foreshadow~ez_ndash~indeed,
foretell~ez_ndash~the life-threatening misadventures that befall Crusoe later on.
Dates in the Novel
Sept. 1, 1651:....Crusoe
boards a ship bound for London
Sept. 1, 1659:....Crusoe
boards the slave-trading ship
Sept. 30, 1659:..Crusoe
arrives on the island.
Dec. 19, 1686:...Crusoe
leaves the island.
June 11, 1687:...Crusoe
arrives back in England.
goes to the East Indies with his nephew and also visits the island on which
he was marooned.
reports that his island has two seasons, writing, "I found now that the
seasons of the year might generally be divided, not into summer and winter,
as in Europe, but into the rainy seasons and the dry seasons, which were
The half of February, the
whole of March, and the half of April - rainy, the sun being then on or
near the equinox.
The half of April, the whole
of May, June, and July, and the half of August - dry, the sun being then
to the north of the line.
The half of August, the
whole of September, and the half of October - rainy, the sun being then
The half of October, the
whole of November, December, and January, and the half of February - dry,
the sun being then to the south of the line.
modern psychologists encourage patients to use cognitive therapy to overcome
anxiety and depression, as well as other conditions characterized by negative
thought patterns. In cognitive therapy, a patient attempts to change the
way he thinks. Through treatment that includes mind exercises, the patient
learns that he tends to magnify the likelihood of negative outcomes. Some
patients write down their irrational, negative thoughts and counter them
with rational, positive thoughts in what is intended to be an honest appraisal
of their thought processes. Seeing the results of their brainstorming on
paper somehow objectifies their mental status and puts it in the proper
perspective. Crusoe performs such a writing exercise in Chapter IV ("First
Weeks on the Island"):
I now began to consider
seriously my condition, and the circumstances I was reduced to; and I drew
up the state of my affairs in writing, not so much to leave them to any
that were to come after me - for I was likely to have but few heirs - as
to deliver my thoughts from daily poring over them, and afflicting my
mind; and as my reason began now to master my despondency, I began to comfort
myself as well as I could, and to set the good against the evil, that I
might have something to distinguish my case from worse; and I stated very
impartially, like debtor and creditor, the comforts I enjoyed against the
miseries I suffered, thus:-
Evil: I am cast upon a horrible,
desolate island, void of all hope of recovery.
Good: But I am alive; and
not drowned, as all my ship's company were.
Evil: I am singled out and
separated, as it were, from all the world, to be miserable.
Good: But I am singled out,
too, from all the ship's crew, to be spared from death; and He that miraculously
saved me from death can deliver me from this condition.
Evil: I am divided from
mankind - a solitaire; one banished from human society.
But I am not starved, and perishing on a barren place, affording no sustenance.
Evil: I have no clothes
to cover me.
Good: But I am in a hot
climate, where, if I had clothes, I could hardly wear them.
Evil: I am without any defence,
or means to resist any violence of man or beast.
Good: But I am cast on an
island where I see no wild beasts to hurt me, as I saw on the coast of
Africa; and what if I had been
Evil: I have no soul to
speak to or relieve me.
Good: But God wonderfully
sent the ship in near enough to the shore, that I have got out as many
necessary things as will either
supply my wants or enable
me to supply myself, even as long as I live.
Upon the whole, here was
an undoubted testimony that there was scarce any condition in the world
so miserable but there was something negative or something positive to
be thankful for in it; and let this stand as a direction from the experience
of the most
miserable of all conditions
in this world: that we may always find in it something to comfort ourselves
from, and to set, in the
description of good and
evil, on the credit side of the account.
Study Questions and Essay
What is Robinson Crusoe's most
admirable character trait? What is his least admirable trait?
The captain of the London-bound
ship thinks Crusoe is a Jonah, someone who brings bad luck. Where did this
use of the name Jonah originate? Hint: Look in the Old Testament
of the Bible for the story of the Hebrew prophet Jonah.
Is Crusoe's religious awakening
the result of genuine repentance? Or is there another reason for his religious
Why does Crusoe tolerate slavery?
What kept Crusoe from despairing
and giving up after he arrived on the island?
Write an informative essay that
explains European attitudes toward slavery during Daniel Defoe's lifetime.
Write an essay describing the
area (mouth of the Orinoco River) where Crusoe was marooned.
Write an informative essay about
the perils of sea travel in the second half of the 16th Century. Include
in your essay a discussion of the dangers posed by piracy.
Was Robinson Crusoe a changed
man at the end of the novel? Or was he essentially the same man that he
was at the beginning?