Saturday, November 17, 2012

Robinson Crusoe: Theme, Structure and Allegory

 The Main Theme:

The theme shows that when one is dissatisfied with what God has given him, all God’s blessings are taken from him. Man should be grateful to God’s blessing. When man is dissatisfied and seeks more, he provokes God’s anger. In this way, man defies his fate and disobeys his God and as a result he faces a lot of hardships. In the beginning, the writer shows Crusoe’s inborn desire to wander abroad. He insists on his plan and pays no attention to his father’s advice to accept the quiet life and the middle station of life. This kind of life doesn’t satisfy him. He wants to get rich quickly. His father warns him that if he persists in his decision to leave home and go to the sea, he would come to grief and there would be nobody to help him in his affliction. Crusoe sets out on a voyage contrary to his father’s wishes and warning. On his first voyage, God gives him a warning through the horrible storm which terrifies him. God gives him an opportunity to med his ways. During the storm on the sea he makes up his mind never again to go on a voyage if his life is saved on this occasion. But after the danger has ended, he once again gets ready to go on a voyage. On the second voyage, he undergoes his first punishment in being captured by pirates and being made a slave. However, he escapes in a small boat. After getting some taste of the terror of wild beasts on the African coast, he is picked up by a Portuguese ship and taken to Brazil. In Brazil, he prospers as a planter; and yet he fails to learn the lessons of his slavery and his prosperity in the middle station of life. He decides that he must get rich quicker and, to that end, he joins a voyage to buy slaves. This reckless abandonment of a settled life for an illicit venture at last provokes God’s anger.

His disobedience to his father is equal to Adam’s disobedience to God. Crusoe finds himself cast away, after a shipwreck, on an inhabited island. Here, the writer focuses on the relation between man and God. The novel is written in the Puritan age which is full of strict moralities and matters related to religion and morals. Thus, this novel may be regarded as a book which depicts the Puritan belief of the human soul. This appears when Crusoe thinks of God for the first time after he finds out that he is the only survivor. God first enter Crusoe’s thought in a big way when he is swept ashore after his ship is wrecked, and he finds that all his companions are dead. He thanks God for saving his life when all his companions have been drowned in the sea.


Robinson Crusoe is a novel written in the form of autobiography. It is a story of Robinson’s life narrated by him. He recites his experience in his adventures in the sea. The style is journalistic. The writer collects some interesting material about a seaman’s adventures in his novel. The style is brief and accurate. The writer has the ability to know what will interest his reader and he manages to catch their attention. All the voyages give the novel a certain appeal. The writer gives a brief account of Crusoe’s adventures, but there is much accuracy in his style. The accuracy of the style can be noticed in the minor details which Robinson gives us throughout the novel. For example, when he plans his escape from captivity, he lists down all the items he intends to take with him. Also, when he is stranded on the island, he recounts in details all the objects he manages to get from the ship. The details make the text seem real, not fiction. There are lists of objects and actions. While reading the book we get the feeling that whatever happens to Crusoe and whatever he does must be true. Defoe produces the impression of complete reality by embodying a mass of details.

In conclusion, it is clear that this novel is an autobiography of an individual man who spends some years on an uninhabited island where he is able, by his skills, to provide himself with all sorts of amenities and comforts. We are also given all sort of details of his mental and spiritual life.


Robinson Crusoe is much more than an adventure story. It is rich in symbolic meaning. First of all, it is a religious allegory. It depicts the kind of original sin of which a man finds himself guilty, and the consequences of which he has to endure. The first dream which Crusoe sees on one occasion in his sleep seems to him to convey a message to him. The message is that he should repent of his sins, and he obeys this message. Crusoe is the prodigal son who has disobeyed his father. The father, as the head of the family, represents God in the family context. The novel also depicts the spiritual development of Crusoe, his recognition of his original sin, his repentance, his self reform, in short, his religious conversation. We can also regret Crusoe as Everyman, or as a representative of humanity in general. The novel shows man’s journey in life.

Example of the Age of Reason:

In this novel, there is a call to cultivate reason. Daniel Defoe shows that man can achieve great things if he depends on reason. This is seen through Robinson's life on the isolated island. He depends on reason to build a proper habitation and create a source of nourishment for himself. He learns through trial and error and makes a lot of experiment in order to invent some useful articles. He also learns from the previous experience. He makes a simple lamp using the fates of goats. He also manages to make pots from clay and manages to burn them. When his crop is threatened by goats and birds, he builds a hedge to protect it. Whenever he is confronted with problem, he thinks deliberately of a proper solution. This shows that he is a reasonable and rational man. He does not surrender to despair although he meets a lot of difficulties in growing the corn. He does not give up. He knows that he is in bad need for his crop. Therefore, he should find solution. This also shows his inventiveness. After Robinson manages to make a canoe, he thinks of a way to move it towards the sea. Robinson starts to calculate and measure the length and the depth of the canoe and thinks of a way to take it to the shore. This also shows that calculates and measures everything.