What values are presented in Robinson Crusoe?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Puritan values are presented by Robinson Crusoe's father, who urges his son to take the middle road and work hard in order to live a successful life. In the exposition of the novel his father tells Robinson that only desperate men or men of superior fortunes go to sea in order to make themselves famous. Mr. Crusoe urges his son to stay in the middle and pray to have neither riches nor poverty. He continues to exhort his son to stay in the middle where through hard work he would gain virtue:

...that the middle station of life was calculated for all kind of virtures...that peace and plenty were the handmaids of a middle fortune; that temperance, moderation, quietness, health, society, all agreeable diversions,...were the blessings attending the middle station of life....

But Crusoe ignores his father and goes to sea. While at sea Robinson Crusoe is successful, but greed overcomes him and he wishes to make money in the slave trade. Crusoe has made enough to be middle-classed and content, but he is lured by greed into a more profitable venture. However, Crusoe finds himself in the middle of a storm with thirty-foot waves and is thrown ashore, the only survivor.

Crusoe is alone without anyone to help him and cries out against his misfortune. However, after a while he is humiliated by the changes in his life, and he thanks God that he has been saved. Then he sets out to salvage everything he can from the ship, counting the good against bad and marking his gratitude. Imitating the good Puritan work ethic, Crusoe constructs for himself shelters, he fences his area, and he arranges his possessions as safely as possible.

God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore that [it has] enabled me to supply myself as long as I live.

Robinson Crusoe lives his life frugally and with patience. Finally, he returns to his Bible and reads passages from it. He employs the Puritan creed of reason, work, and religious faith through his years of exile. Finally, Crusoe is able to return to his home like the Prodigal Son, but, unfortunately, his parents have died. Nevertheless, he rewards the old widow who has kept his accounts.