Robinson Crusoe

This study guide will help you analyze the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. You can also find a summary of the text, detailed characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Author: Daniel Defoe

Genre: Novel

Daniel Defoe (around 1660-1731) was an English writer, trader, and journalist. His original name was Daniel Foe, but he changed his surname to Defoe to sound more aristocratic. Defoe wrote hundreds of books, pamphlets, and journals on various topics. Apart from Robinson Crusoe and its sequels, Defoe's novels also include Captain Singleton (1720), A Journal of the Plague Year (1722), and Moll Flanders (1722).

The novel Robinson Crusoe deals with the many adventures of a traveler with the same name. On his third sea voyage, Robinson is shipwrecked on an uninhabited Caribbean island and lives there all on his own for 23 years before man-eaters appear. The book became a bestseller as soon as it was published and is still a global success today as the third most printed work after the Bible and the Quran.

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Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe takes place in a variety of settings. At the beginning, the plot is set in England, where the main character, Robinson Crusoe, is born and lives in the city of York. On his first voyage, Robinson is shipwrecked and arrives with his crew in a small town where they are initially taken in. Afterwards they travel on to London.

Later, Robinson sets off on a journey to Guinea. Guinea is a country in West Africa on the Atlantic coast. But before Robinson reaches the country, his ship is attacked by Moorish pirates near the Canary Islands. The pirates capture Robinson as a slave and take him to the Moorish port city of Saleh. He spends two years in the captivity of the Moorish pirates until he finally escapes and travels to South America with Portuguese sailors.

After his liberation, Robinson lives for a while in Brazil in South America. He gains some wealth there as well, as a plantation owner. He then embarks on another voyage to engage in the slave trade in Guinea. On his voyage he is shipwrecked again and this time is stranded on a desert island.

This fertile island lies in the Caribbean and is home to exotic flora and fauna. Turtles, parrots, and wild goats live there. Exotic fruits can also be harvested there: “I saw here abundance of cocoa trees, orange, and lemon, and citron trees” (Chapter 7, 18%). With its varied flora, the island looks very idyllic. It can be crossed easily and quickly from one side to the other on foot.

Near the island there are other islands inhabited by cannibal peoples. Robinson's servant Friday is one of them. He is taken to Robinson`s island by his enemies. Later we learn that the two peoples are rivals.

There is also a rainy season on the island that lasts about two months and then turns into a dry season (Chapter 7, 77%). During one of these rainy seasons, Robinson becomes terribly ill.

Robinson's story is probably inspired by the account of Alexander Selkirk, who also survived for several years on an uninhabited island. While Robinson's island lies in the Caribbean, Selkirk's island, now called “Robinson Crusoe Island”, is very far away from it, in the Pacific Ocean, 700 km off the coast of Chile, and belongs to that South American state.

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Robinson Crusoe

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