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Summary and Critical Analysis of Robinson Crusoe

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Robinson Crusoe is an 18-year-old German who lives in England- Hull. Crusoe dreams of going on cruises, despite his father's opposition to his dream because his two older brothers are gone because of the adventures. When his parents refuse to go to any cruise even if one, he escapes with a friend and plans to pass to London in a safe way. But the disaster begins immediately, the weather was rough, then the ship was forced to land in Yarmouth. When Crusoe's friend knows that he left his family without their permission, he gets angry, and telling him that he should never come to the sea. Crusoe made his way to London by land, sometimes he thinks returning to home, but cannot endure to live in humiliation. He found a voyage to Guyana, when he arrived, wanted to start the trade but was attacked by Turkish pirates and brought all the passengers to a Moroccan port. They took Robinson as their slave, and he planned to escape for two years. He gets a chance to fish with two young Moroccans, then expel one of them and tell the other (Xury) that he can stay and be faithful with him. They settle in an unknown land, and then see that black people live there. These natives were very kindly with Crusoe and Xury. Somewhere close to them, they see a Portuguese ship. They can row until they get there, and the captain sees them and helps them, where he will take them out for free and bring them to Brazil.

Robinson goes to Brazil and Xury remains with the captain. The captain and widow in England are the financial custodians of Crusoe. In Brazil, Crusoe sees that farms make a lot of money, so he buys one. After years, he has partners, and everyone works well financially. Crusoe has a suggestion to start a new business, these men want slave trade, and choose Robinson to be the master of this trade post. Then, Crusoe decides to make a voyage, but during the voyage the ship is shattered by a strong storm, Robinson Crusoe is the only survivor, and then he can reach an island. Robinson stayed on the island for 27 years. During these years he reconfigured his life as the English did, built a house, learned cooking, planted crops and raised goats.

At first, he was so desperate, but he used religion as a reason to calm him down, he convinced himself that living here was better than Europe because he became simple and less evil. One day, he tried to explore the rest of the island, but he is almost swept away and he did not try again. He has pets cares about. He has not seen a man for almost 15 years on the island. However, one day he sees a footprint, and later discovers that cannibalistic savages eating prisoners. They do not live on the island, so Crusoe gets angry, and decides to save the prisoners when the savages appear again. Several years later, they returned. He used his guns to scare them, and Crusoe can save a young man, whom he named 'Friday'.

Friday was grateful to Crusoe, and became his servant. Crusoe taught him English and Christianity. They lived together happily for a long time. Another ship of savages came with three prisoners. Crusoe and Friday rescued two of them, one Spanish and the other Friday's father. They were very happy with the reunion. A few months later, he rescued the Spanish's men. Robinson rejoiced at the presence of people on his island. Before the Spaniard and Friday's father can return, a boat of European men comes ashore. There are three prisoners. While most of the men are exploring the island, Crusoe learns from one that he is the captain of a ship whose crew mutinied. Robinson agrees to help them but if they leave the authority of the island for him and they promise him to take Friday and himself to England for free. The agreement is done, Crusoe helped them, the captain regained his ship and Robinson and Friday returned to England. Despite he went for 35 years ago, but his farms have made enormous wealth. He gives money to the Portuguese leader and the widow who treated him kindly, returns to the English countryside, settles there, marries and becomes has three children. When his wife dies, he goes back to the sea.

The features, motives, objectives and literary/ theoretical perspectives of travel literature:

One of features in travel narratives is it often employed the first hand narrator/traveler as the focus of attention. The first hand narrator or the ‘I’ of the narrative is the center of the consciousness surrounding which the travel narrative works (Stevenson, 2005). An example of that, in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, in the novel Robinson use the pronoun 'I' when he speaks about himself which is reflect the first-person narrator.

Also, the traveler often has a feeling of alienation in the new/foreign environment, creating notable changes in his/her subject matter. This feeling of alienation applied in travel literature, because the writer shows how the traveler will encounter a new culture and adopted his ideas according to the various experiences that he/she had (Stevenson, 2005). For example, Robinson Crusoe cast away on an isolated island, it is a real alienation with no body on the island. But Robinson encounter this new life by attempts to create another life for himself. He adapts with his situation through self-sufficiency and hard work.

There are some motives that encourage writers to write in travel literature:

There came a time when people were very much curious about explorations and voyages to unknown destinations (Nienke, 2013). This curiosity and the love of marine or land adventures are the main motive for travel at the time, and of course it is essential in travel to write literary works that tell the stories of these adventures and the cultures of the countries. It is clearly shown in Robinson Crusoe that the initial reason for his travelling is that he is compelled to see the world. Although this means rebellion against his father and God’s providential designs, which have combined to provide him with a comfortable middle-class life in law, Crusoe is intent on travel.

Another motive is that many writers see travel literature also otherwise considered to be mediators between the reader and text. Many times, travelogue is the prism through which the reader is introduced to the cultures and traditions of a foreign country (Basumatary, 2018). For example, postcolonialism in Robinson Crusoe has an impact on cultures and societies because in the first chapter of the novel Robinson Crusoe said that England was his native country although his real native country in Berman. England was the strongest as well, there was a culture that England's people of pure white race were better than other nations.

Literary/ theoretical perspectives of travel literature:

Daniel (2017) states that scholarly investigation of travel practices and travel writing from the early modern period through to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has proved a buoyant field of inquiry in the last twenty years. They have different literary and theoretical perspectives on travel literature in relation to English and British travel, adding new contexts and perspectives on questions of national identity; the role of religion in shaping the discussion of foreign cultures; and the physical and embodied condition of “exotic” travel.

For example, Literary/ theoretical perspectives of travel literature on questions of national identity is shown in Robinson Crusoe novel. Crusoe's nation identity is affected by colonialism, he became an embodiment of the spirit of Englishness although he is German. His island becomes a microcosm of the British colonies, his methods of subjugating it then reflects the complex ways in which British imperialism functioned.

Wilson (2004) stresses that Robinson Crusoe “is a singular seminal text for an understanding of how Protestant evangelism informs English identity that is also equally shaped by imperialism and empire in eighteenth-century England.”

Literary/ theoretical perspectives of travel literature on questions of religion in shaping the discussion of foreign cultures. Religion contributed in forming the culture, it was known that anyone who violates religion exposes himself to divine punishment, and any disadvantages occur to him are the punishment of God. When Robinson violated his father's orders, it is considered God's disobedience, then the ship sank and he saw punishment from God. Thus, Defoe is clearly affected in the novel by religious ideas.

Also, according to the role of religion in foreign culture, and its role in travel literature, Robinson Crusoe is first rebellious, then atones for his sins, and then converts himself and others to Christianity. Religious changes in Robinsons character were shaped by the culture.

Literary/ theoretical perspectives of travel literature on questions of the physical and embodied condition of “exotic” travel. Further, the confrontation between man and nature, and nature and civilization. These are mostly physical conditions in travel. After the shipwreck, the protagonist founds himself on the uninhabited island, so he is alone with the wild environment in its original form. Such as a biological organism is at stake. Storm, hurricane, scorching sun, hunger, wild flora and fauna exist on their unique rules. Therefore, the hero has to accept the conditions of the game to survive, not being able to change them.

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Robinson encountered all the physical conditions by adapting with them and even overcome the exotic feeling in travel.

Setting (of travel writings) as a literary device in 18th -19th century novels / short story; how setting has helped in narration:

Travel narratives are often recording of the setting (the places, people, and occurrences of a particular region that a traveler visits) (Stevenson, 2005). Settings of travel literature in the 18th and 17th century novels use real places and real time to make it seems to be real. In Robinson Crusoe, the writer focused scientifically on setting to make the novel more realistic, Crusoe begins his journey in September 1659 and travels to Africa, Brazil, and a lost island in the Atlantic. He moves primarily through and around the Atlantic Ocean. In this sense, the setting of the novel is a transatlantic one. The significance of this setting is that it is also the primary location of eighteenth-century trade routes – including the slave trade.

Setting of Robinson Crusoe make it regarded as one of the first novels of literary realism, in which narrative credibility was established through actual historical references and settings.

How motives (social-cultural) helped the novelist to describe plot/ events:

Social motives:

Colonialism is the biggest motive that affecting people’s ideas in society, the dominance of England formed new ideas among people, including writers, even their writings not devoid of colonial ideas, one of them is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

In this period England was for a long while, the most powerful and widely spread colonial empire in the world. In Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, the impact of colonialism is clearly apparent. To put the literary work into its proper context, it should be noted that the story was published in 1719.

Based upon the time in which the novel was written, Colonialism ideas are seen in the story after Crusoe leaves the island—for while he is there, he realizes that the things he valued in England, Brazil and on his travels revolved around money. He has no need of money on the island, but he does value materials that will aid in his survival—such as gunpowder and fresh water. Returning to civilization, his desire for money emerges again.

Thus, according to the events of the story, Daniel Defoe used money as one of the social motives that arose after colonialism, which helped him to tell the story and form Robinson's character as a colonialist.

Cultural motive:

Colonialism did not affect society only in economic, depression, etc., it influenced the culture of society, which dominated even the thinking of its people, for example, addressed the idea of white British race.

Daniel Defoe wrote the story according to the post-colonial culture, and this idea is clearly shown on how Crusoe treats Friday once they leave the island. Crusoe's answer to prayer, one who he looked to like a son, he 'civilizes' so that he can become a part of the great land of England, but not as a brother or friend—only as a servant. ('My man Friday' indicates a sense of servility on Friday's part, and 'ownership' on Crusoe's...even though he was technically not a slave. This reflects the English's attitude towards natives of countries which they assimilated.

Finally, we see a clear representation of colonization with regard to Crusoe's island. He has discovered and claimed it—in the same spirit as England's explorers and military leaders had claimed England's own colonies. When he is rescued, the ship's captain tells the mutineers that Crusoe is employed by 'the governor.' Crusoe 'owns' the island and instructs those living there just as if he were the 'governor' or political leader—just as any British colony would be governed.

Consequently, Daniel Defoe used the glorification of white race and Christianity and inferiority with all other religions and races is the cultural motivation that influenced the culture of most members of society after colonization, it helps Danial to write the character of Robinson and the way he deals with others.

Characters, language, imagery that helped the novelist to describe images and characters:

Descriptive language is of course vital in order to build up character, setting and tone. In Robinson Crusoe, the characters and its imagery help the narrative to describe their roles in novel more clearly, Although the characters are fictional, but they helped the writer to clarify their roles. first, the character of Robinson Crusoe appeared as Rebellious, Adventurous, Hardworking, Courageous and Commanding. The novelist used these traits to write about his journey, when he ran away from home because he wants to become a sailor against his parents’ wishes, works hard to become a good sailor, salvages useful items from the shipwreck, builds homes and plants crops. Also, Friday character, he is faithful, Brave and Curious. The writer proves these traits when Stayed with Crusoe and followed his orders until the end and when he fought the cannibals with him.

Therefore, the writer's use of descriptive language and the emphasis on character traits to reflect the reality for readers. This language greatly helped the novelist in the narrative and the preparation of the plot in Robinson Crusoe to reflect their qualities on their roles.

Imagery is the literary term used for language and description that appeals to our five senses. Often, imagery is built on other literary devices, such as simile or metaphor, as the author uses comparisons to appeal to our senses.

The writer used imagery in Robinson Crusoe to provide a close description for images in the novel. The ever-changing sea serves as a useful metaphor for Crusoe's fickle relationship with God because whenever a storm hits the ocean, Crusoe is immediately penitent and asks God for help and when the skies are clear and the waves are calm, Crusoe seems to forget all about that religious stuff. Also, the book is a symbol of Crusoe's connection to God and later becomes a tool with which to teach Friday the basics of Christianity.

The second way is his way of using very vivid imagery that pop to show a significant plot change. An example of such a use of imagery is when Robinson's ship is attacked and he is enslaved by Moors. Going from a fairly wealthy trader to a slave is a fairly large life style change, so Defoe really slams the imagery in your face as if to scream out that there's something big going down.

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Summary and Critical Analysis of Robinson Crusoe. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 3, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/summary-and-critical-analysis-of-robinson-crusoe/
“Summary and Critical Analysis of Robinson Crusoe.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/summary-and-critical-analysis-of-robinson-crusoe/
Summary and Critical Analysis of Robinson Crusoe. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/summary-and-critical-analysis-of-robinson-crusoe/> [Accessed 3 Mar. 2024].
Summary and Critical Analysis of Robinson Crusoe [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Mar 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/summary-and-critical-analysis-of-robinson-crusoe/
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