Critical Review of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

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Daniel Defoe tells tale of a marooned individual in order to criticize society. By using the Island location, similar to that of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Defoe is able to show his audience exactly what is necessary for the development of a utopian society. In The Tempest, the small society of Prospero's island addresses the aspects of morality, the supernatural and politics in the larger British society. In Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, the island's natural surroundings highlights the subject of man's individual growth, both spiritually and physically. Nature instantly exercises its power and control over man in the tropical storm that leads to the wreckage of Crusoe's ship. "The fury of the sea" (Defoe, 45) thrusts Crusoe to the shores of the uninhabited "Island of Despair" (Defoe, 70). Isolated on the island, Crusoe is challenged to use his creativity in order to survive.

Crusoe accepts the challenge to survive, but not only does he survive, but he also expands and discovers new qualities about himself. In the beginning of his time on the island, Crusoe feels exceedingly secluded. He fears savages and wild beasts on the island, and he stays high up in a tree. Lacking a "weapon to hunt and kill creatures for his sustenance" (Defoe, 47), he is susceptible. Defoe believed that "the nature of man resides in the capacity for improvement in the context of a material world" (Seidel, 59), and this becomes apparent in his novel. The tools that Crusoe possesses from the ship carry out this notion, improving his life on the island dramatically. He progresses quickly, and no longer feels as isolated as he did before on the island. Crusoe uses his tools to build a protective fence and a room inside a cave. He then builds a farm where he raises goats and grows a corn crop. Later, his ambitions take him to the other side of the island where he builds a country home. Also, with the weapons that Crusoe creates, he saves Friday from cannibals, and makes him his servant. Because of his tools, his supply becomes more than sufficient for survival. He comes to learn that if he works with his surroundings instead of wallowing in the fact that he has no longer got what he thinks he needs, he able to find and use everything he needs in order to carry out life.

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