Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe book cover
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What are the impacts of nature on Robinson Crusoe?

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Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nature is important in the novel because it controls Robinson Crusoe despite his best efforts but also inspires as well as challenges him. Crusoe’s journey of self-discovery occurs entirely through his association with nature, until the point when the man he calls Friday arrives. The fundamental conflict in the novel is thus both external, of human versus nature, and internal, of a person versus himself. It is only when Crusoe realizes that he cannot control nature that he can begin to accept the conditions of his existence on the island, and thereby come to terms with the true meaning of survival. He learns to be grateful for the bounty of nature—or the gifts that God has bestowed—that accrue to him. Crusoe’s pride in his own skill must give way to humility and acceptance of his limitations.

When Crusoe is cast ashore alone, he expends considerable energy removing everything useful. He proudly explains how this hard work pays off but also notes the “abundance of fowl” that...

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