Robinson Crusoe Questions and Answers
by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe book cover
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What is the setting of Robinson Crusoe?

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Maud Scarbrough eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Robinson Crusoe has a number of settings that include three continents (Africa, Europe and South America) and four ships.

The novel begins in the North Yorkshire city of York where Crusoe was born in 1632. Against the wishes of his family he decides to go to sea, but on his first voyage his ship is caught in a storm off the coast of the English seaside town of Yarmouth. Next, Crusoe goes to London where he offers his services to a sea captain.

On the coast of North Africa, pirates invade the ship and sell Crusoe and other members of the crew as slaves to the nearby North African town of Salee. Crusoe eventually escapes the town along the African coast to Cape Verda where he meets a Portuguese sea captain who takes him to Brazil.

In Brazil, Crusoe buys his own tobacco plantation, but with little help to plant and nurture the tobacco, he decides to travel to Guinea to buy slaves. On his way, his ship is caught up in a storm, and he ends up the only surviving crew member stranded on a deserted island.

Crusoe remains on the island until he defeats a group of mutineers and sails back to England. Having found out that most of his family is dead, he sails to Lisbon to enquire about his plantations in Brazil. His plantations have earned him a small fortune and he briefly considers returning to them, but eventually decides to return to England. On his way back, he stops at the Spanish town of Pampeluna and the French city of Toulouse.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This story has a number of different settings.  The one that is most famous (and which takes up the greatest part of the book) is the island on which Crusoe becomes stranded.  This is a forested island somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean.  There are no other permanent human inhabitants of the island.  We see Crusoe as he struggles to survive physically and emotionally on this island.  He spends 24 years alone and then a further three with the company of a native man that he calls Friday.

There are other settings for the earliest part of the book and the ending, though.  These settings include places in England (where Crusoe was born), in North Africa where he is enslaved, and in Brazil, where he is a rich plantation owner.

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