Robinson Crusoe Questions and Answers
by Daniel Defoe

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Describe the presence of colonialism in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

The presence of colonialism can be seen in Robinson Crusoe through the way Crusoe appropriates the island as "his" domain and through his treatment of Friday. Crusoe renames this native, converts him to Christianity, and uses him as his slave. Crusoe assumes European culture is superior to anything Friday might offer him, and behaves as European colonizers usually did towards native peoples.

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Having defeated a group of twenty-one islanders (to whom he distainfully refers as “savages”) and rescued their prisoners, Robinson Crusoe remarks that his island “was now peopled.” He has long since fallen into the habit of regarding the island as his personal property, and now goes even further, describing himself as kinglike. In his mind the island is his country, over which he has “an undoubted right of dominion.” Crusoe then describes himself as “absolute lord and lawgiver” on the island and observes that, while his new subjects follow different religions, he allows “liberty of conscience throughout my dominions.”

The tone of Crusoe’s description is facetious, but the target of his irony is the size and modesty of his domain, not the colonial nature of his rule. At no point does he show the slightest doubt that he is lord and master of the island. Everything and everyone on it is his to exploit or kill if they will not fall in with his plans. His attitude to...

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