Robinson Crusoe Questions and Answers
by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe book cover
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Comment on the expression ''dreadful deliverance'' in Robinson Crusoe.

The expression "dreadful deliverance" is an oxymoron that concisely sums up Crusoe's predicament. A storm has left him the lone survivor of a shipwreck. This is a deliverance, because he is still alive. On the other hand, he is in dreadful circumstances, because he has no means of survival. He wonders if he has lived through the shipwreck only to die on the island.

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The expression “dreadful deliverance” is both an oxymoron and a candid statement of both the good and the bad that Robinson Crusoe can see in his situation. On the positive side, he isn’t dead like the rest of his shipmates. This is where “deliverance,” which is defined as being rescued or set free, comes into the equation. On the “dreadful” side of the coin, he has washed up on a seemingly uninhabited island where, unbeknownst to him, he is going to spend the next twenty-eight years of his life.

This act of surviving the wreck—this “dreadful deliverance”—is the beginning of a process which Crusoe ends up...

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