How is Robinson Crusoe similar to the Biblical tale of Jonah?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most important similarity to Jonah is Robinson Crusoe's willing defiance of his father, just as Jonah defied God. Jonah, rather than traveling to Nineveh to prophesize the destruction of the city, took to sea and was met with disasters. Crusoe, rather than remaining at home to study business, takes to sea and is met with disasters as well. Both characters eventually repent and accept the wisdom of their father (father figure). Additionally, after his first shipwreck, Crusoe is directly compared to Jonah by the captain's son:

"Why, sir," said I, "will you go to sea no more?" "That is another case," said he; "it is my calling, and therefore my duty; but as you made this voyage on trial, you see what a taste Heaven has given you of what you are to expect if you persist. Perhaps this has all befallen us on your account, like Jonah in the ship of Tarshish."
(Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, eNotes eText)

His point is that he is born and bred for the sea, and owes his own father a certain amount of work before branching out on his own, but Crusoe is traveling for fun and pleasure, and has no place on the ocean. In this fashion, he wonders if Crusoe is inherently cursed to suffer misfortune whenever he sails; this pessimistic attitude is soon born out by pirates and more shipwrecks.

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Robinson Crusoe

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