Introduction to Robinson Crusoe

Robinsoe Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe. Published in 1719, the work was originally credited to its titular character, leading many early readers to assume that it was a nonfiction travelogue. Told in epistolary form, the novel is composed of a series of journal entries penned by Crusoe, who is marooned on a deserted island for twenty-eight years. Stories about castaway sailors being stranded on a deserted island have since become a popular literary genre, and works of this sort are often called Robinsonades.

Notable Robinsonades include Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson and R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island. The genre has also inspired a number of dystopian rebuttals, which attempt to refute the optimistic depiction of English civility in the face of supposedly barbaric circumstances. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies are examples of inverted crusoeism, reflecting on the negative aspects of human nature rather than the positive.

Robinson Crusoe is sometimes referred to as a quintessentially English novel, especially with regards to the British colonial efforts of the early eighteenth century. Crusoe essentially colonizes the island he is stranded upon, symbolically introducing notions of Western civilization. Nature is depicted as something that must be dominated and subdued in order for Crusoe to succeed in his building efforts. Friday’s status as a servant and “reformed cannibal” has received substantial criticism from modern readers, and multiple works have since been published expanding the story from his perspective.

A Brief Biography of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe (c. 1660–1731) was an English writer. He was young and vulnerable when an outbreak of the bubonic plague attacked England, killing hundreds of thousands of people all around him, but he survived. Then in 1666, when Defoe was not yet a teen, the Great Fire of London burned down a large portion of the city, including his entire neighborhood, leaving only his family’s and one neighbor’s houses standing. It’s no wonder, then, that his most famous book, Robinson Crusoe, is filled with adventure. Defoe’s novel is a fictional autobiography of Crusoe, who survived twenty-eight years on an island before he was rescued. The novel has remained so popular there is now a real island that bears the hero’s name.

Frequently Asked Questions about Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe discovers in talking to the hostages on the beach that one of them is the captain of the English vessel that has arrived on the shores of Crusoe's island. This commander is very...

Latest answer posted February 11, 2021, 12:50 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

The novel Robinson Crusoe is filled with a variety of symbols. Money becomes a symbol for Robinson, a symbol at first of all the things he might do with his life, of the successes he might find and...

Latest answer posted February 12, 2021, 8:47 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

After more than two decades alone on the island, Crusoe begins to notice footprints on the sand of one shore and finds that native people from another place—whom he calls "savages"—sometimes paddle...

Latest answer posted February 9, 2021, 12:32 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe has often been called a middle-class novel. This is because its moral lessons uphold core middle-class virtues. Crusoe thrives through hard work, careful planning, frugality, and...

Latest answer posted February 9, 2021, 11:58 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe is a work of fiction, not a true story. But it is presented as a real travel narrative, with Crusoe named as the author. Many critics believe it to be based on the travel narrative...

Latest answer posted February 9, 2021, 11:44 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

While it is difficult and contentious to locate the first realist novel, Robinson Crusoe is important because it is very much a major contender. Most critics point to Don Quixote as the first...

Latest answer posted February 9, 2021, 12:53 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe journeys from Hull, in the north of England, to London, in the south, by joining one of his friends on a ship. The ship belongs to Crusoe's friend's father. Crusoe's friend invites...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 11:23 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinsoe Crusoe does get off the island, after twenty-eight years and two months, during which time he made the island prosper for him. After twenty-eight years, an English ship arrives. Crusoe...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 11:25 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

In the opening chapter of the novel, the eponymous narrator tells us that, from an early age, he began to "be filled ... with rambling thoughts." In other words, he had thoughts about journeying...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 11:43 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

After being frightened and in despair when he finds himself the sole survivor of a shipwreck, abandoned on a deserted island, Crusoe finds much to be thankful for. Though he never was religious...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 11:53 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

When Robinson Crusoe first encounters goats on the island, he decides to hunt them so that he can eat their meat. On one of his hunting expeditions, he kills one goat but accidentally injures...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 12:03 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Friday is one of two captured men taken by a group of cannibals to the shores of Robinson Crusoe's island. Crusoe sees them arrive. He watches as they kill one of the captives. The other, being...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 12:10 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe takes an extremely pragmatic view of reality. One of his defining character traits is his ability to play the hand he has been dealt. He has moments of despair, but he is able to...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 12:22 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

The primary lesson Robinson Crusoe learns from his adventures, which he restates in various ways throughout the narrative, can be summed up as follows: I acquiesced in the dispositions of...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 12:54 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe goes for years without human companionship, having to content himself with his animals. However, after a certain time has passed, he begins to notice that natives from another...

Latest answer posted February 10, 2021, 2:52 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

To survive on the island, Robinson Crusoe determines that he needs a shelter to protect him "from the heat of the sun" and from "ravenous creatures." To this end, he finds a hollow in a hill and he...

Latest answer posted February 11, 2021, 11:22 am (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe teaches Friday is to call him "master." This occurs almost immediately, right after Crusoe gives this native man the name "Friday" without offering him any input into what he should...

Latest answer posted February 11, 2021, 12:23 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

After being sold into slavery, Crusoe thinks every day about how he might make his escape. He is unable to think of any plan which might be successful, until one day, two years after being...

Latest answer posted February 11, 2021, 12:39 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

The climax in a narrative is characterized by a confrontation that becomes a turning point and enables the resolution of the conflicts that have driven the story to that point. In the case of...

Latest answer posted February 11, 2021, 3:23 pm (UTC)

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Robinson Crusoe

At the end of Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe and Friday are rescued. An English ship arrives, and Crusoe helps save its captain from mutineers. He leaves a group of mutineer sailors behind, armed with...

Latest answer posted February 9, 2021, 1:29 pm (UTC)

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