Realism In Robinson Crusoe

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Daniel Defoe has frequently been considered the father of realism in regards to his novel, Robinson Crusoe. In the preface of the novel, the events are described as being “just history of fact” (Defoe and Richetti ). This sets the tone for the story to be presented as factual, while it is in of itself truly fiction. This is the first time that a narrative fictional novel has been written in a way that the story is represented as the truth. Realistic elements and precise details are presented unprecedented; the events that unfold in the novel resonate with readers of the middle-class in such a way that it seems as if the stories could be written about themselves. Defoe did not write his novel for the learned, he wrote it for the large public of tradesmen, apprentices and shopkeepers (Häusermann 439-456). Gavin argues, “During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, empirical philosophy recognized a perilous disconnect between knowledge and the actual existence of things in the world” (Gavin 301-325). These ideas of knowledge, and those of the real world, were shaped by Descartes’ theory that reality is perceived by the individual and is not attached to previous ideas of reality. Unlike the novels before, realistic novels appealed to middle-class readers who wanted to read about ordinary people; they could see themselves as main characters in the story (Mario). With the influence of Descartes, novels and the genre of realism came together forming realistic novels. Realism is the attempt to depict all characteristics of human life with such attention to detail that the events seem as realistic as possible, as if readers could perhaps know the characters personally or even be them. Regarding Crusoe, he faces many realistic chall... ... middle of paper ... ...nson Crusoe because they can empathize with the issue Crusoe is facing of trying to find his place in society. Through realistic literary elements of the novel and the themes of individuality, isolation, society and being content versus being ambitious, readers of Robinson Crusoe can relate to many experiences that Crusoe faced. Crusoe’s story represents the genre of the middle class; it is the narration of middle-class lives with the help of realism elements and prominent themes that reflect on middle-class issues and interests. Crusoe represents mankind in the simplest form, he stands on middle ground no higher or lower than any other. He represents every reader who reads his story; they can substitute him for themselves. His actions are what every reader can picture himself or herself doing, thinking, feeling or even wishing for (Coleridge and Coleridge 188-192)
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