A bildungsroman is a novel that explores the growth, development, and maturity of a person on the journey through life. Often, this experience is acquired on a literal journey away from home.
Robinson Crusoe , in addition to being an adventure story, is a bildungsroman. Crusoe begins his young adult...
life as a willful young man who will not pay attention to his parents' advice. He is determined to make his fortune in the wider world and so sets out as a sailor. He has little use, at this point, for God or providence.
After he gains his plantation in Brazil and the possibility of the prosperous, comfortable life it will afford him, he remains dissatisfied. As puts it, he had all the "happy things" that his father had advised a "middle station of life to be full of" but persisted in an "obstinate adhering to my foolish inclination of wandering abroad." At this point, he had "a rash and immoderate desire of rising faster than the nature of the thing admitted:" in other words, he is overly ambitious to get rich quickly so he heads back out to sea.
Crusoe's greed leads to his position as the sole survivor of a shipwreck on a deserted island. This situation, which at first throws him into deep despair, becomes an an opportunity for spiritual growth and maturity. He begins to realize that God is watching over him, both because his life was spared in the shipwreck and because God has provided for his survival on the island. This new faith inspires a new gratitude for what he does have rather than an endless yearning for immoderate wealth.
Crusoe works hard, plans, carefully marshals his resources, and thrives after his initial despair. He learns to make the best of his situation, teaching his parrot to "talk" to him, and finally feeling joy and content that he is master of his kingdom (never questioning, however, whether it is really his to take). While he was once discontented among many people, he is grateful now when finally finds and saves Friday and can make him a servant and companion.
After he is rescued from the island after many years, he indicates he has become a wiser and more mature man:
A life of Providence’s chequer-work, and of a variety which the world will seldom be able to show the like of; beginning foolishly, but closing much more happily than any part of it ever gave me leave so much as to hope for.
He realizes his life has been a "chequer-work," or mix of good and bad, but that in the end it has ended happily. He has gone from an impetuous youth wanting to get rich quickly to a faithful man who understands that the middle-class virtues of slow and steady work are valuable and who has grown to appreciate what he has.