illustration of a man standing on an island and looking out at the ocean with the title Robison Crusoe written in the sky

Robinson Crusoe

by Daniel Defoe

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Discuss the theme of the triumph of human achievement and enterprise in Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

Crusoe's triumph over nature and development of a micro-level social hierarchy is a testament to human capability, a major theme in Robinson Crusoe.

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In Daniel Defoe’s book Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe’s experience on the island is a testament to human strength and capability. When Crusoe is first shipwrecked, he is overwhelmed with the many challenges surrounding him. The island is uninhabited and is not hospitable to humans. For instance, he kills a fowl only to find that he cannot eat it, and he deals with unpleasant weather and sickness. But over time, Crusoe manages to face nature’s obstacles head-on. For example, consider how he uses animal skin to stay dry from the rain, finds edible animals, and spends many days digging his cave. He also spends a long time constructing a boat so he can tour the area surrounding the island. Slowly but surely he triumphs over nature rather than being overpowered by it.

It is also important to consider how Crusoe views himself as the ruler of the island. He calls the place "my island" and rescues Friday from cannibals and treats him as his servant. Here, Crusoe embodies white colonizers who enslave indigenous people for their own gain. This is morally wrong, but in doing this Crusoe has turned a deserted island into a place that is not only livable for human beings but has its own little stratified society.

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