Robinson Crusoe starts out his adventures as a young lad of 18 years old who lives with his parents. He is from a wealthy family in England and seeks high seas adventures. He is somewhat spoiled and arranges to borrow money for a family member so that he can seek out his fortune by trading with the people in Africa. Despite being warned of the dangers that exist in a life at sea, he thinks that it is over exaggerated and goes on his quest anyway.
When he gets on the ship he is disappointed in himself because he becomes sick. He is later captured by pirates and has the strength and sense of mind to arrange a way to make his escape.
Once he moves to Brazil he settles down and has a plantation. He believes in slavery as he owns one and is asked by the other owners to go on a quest to purchase more slaves for them. Crusoe, bored again, goes on the quest but is ship wrecked and marooned on a desert island.
Crusoe is an intelligent man who finds a way to invent tools that he needs in order to survive. He lives in the island for nearly a quarter of a century alone. He is appalled by the cannibals that go on the island occasionally to eat their victims, but he is reasonable enough to accept that it is their established way of life.
Crusoe's values about slavery do not change. When he returns to England he keeps the man named Friday as his servant. He once again joins the aristocratic society and settles down to raise a family.
The Character of Robinson Crusoe
- Robinson Crusoe is the central character around whom the moral lesson centres.
- From the beginning, Defoe presents him as an individual endowed with a capability for moral development because of his natural possession of moral sensitivity.
- As events open, he appears as lacking a certain degree of moral insight and self knowledge, but gradually he gains moral and spiritual re-awakening and self discovery.
- This gradual change can be traced in three stages in his life:
a) When the novel opens, Crusoe leaves home in disobedience of his father and without asking for God’s blessings in search for more wealth, neglecting his father’s advice concerning the advantages of the middle class. Crusoe ,then, goes through four adventures in the sea during which he experiences many misfortunes, and has very narrow escapes from death. At this stage, Crusoe’s character is shown as discontented, rash, romantic ,lacking reason and any sense of moral duty towards God and father. Despite the dangers he faces, he never realizes the moral lesson or that these dangers are a punishment of God for his wrongdoings. He blames his bad luck, fate, or his companions.
b) The second stage in Crusoe’s moral and spiritual development starts with his journey to the coast of Guinea which ends up in his shipwreck, the death of all his fellow sailors and his own survival after he swims to a remote deserted island. During this stage, Crusoe suffers, first, physically to provide for his food, shelter, and security. As he struggles to do this, he shows his great abilities of a resourceful, energetic, and inventive individual, although he has never had any knowledge of mechanics or mathematics. At the same time, however, he has many moral reflections which show his mental stress.
c) The final stage of this process of gradual moral and spiritual re-awakening culminates in the episode his illness and dream after the earthquake. For the first time, Crusoe recognizes that he is the doer of all his misfortunes, and realizes that he is responsible of all his wrongdoings for has neither asked God for help when he is in danger, nor thanked Him when he is rescued. With this admission of guilt, Crusoe moves quickly in the road of moral and spiritual recovery. Thus he sincerely prays to God for help for the first time. After that, he feels not only physical but also spiritual ease and comfort. As he triumphs over the cannibals, saves Friday and the captain of the ship and his crew, and finally saves himself, he reaches complete satisfaction.
- Thus Crusoe is portrayed as a complex round character who, after many experiences
reaches his moral and spiritual growth.