Robinson Crusoe as an Unchanging Character

Robinson Crusoe as an Unchanging Character

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Robinson Crusoe is a character we get to know extremely well, thanks
to Daniel Defoe and his informative descriptions. Because of this we
can see how Robinson's attitudes and beliefs may or may not change
throughout the book. In this essay I will look at how they do or do
not change, and decide on whether Robinson is a changing or unchanging
character.

"I was born in the year 1623, in the city of York, of a good family,
though not of that country, my father being a foreigner.

Robinson narrates the book, and because of this speech is rare. The
reason for the style of writing, with the main character narrating, is
due to the popular writing of the time. Most published works were all
diaries and journals that told of real life events. Defoe's was
fictional though, and to help his book be accepted by the readers he
cloaked it as a diary. The detailed descriptions, as shown in the
quote above, are useful when analysing the book though, as it is
simple to find how Robinson is feeling. This is why we know at the
beginning of the book that Robinson does not want to stay as a
ordinary middle class working man, despite his fathers wishes, and
would instead prefer something more adventurous,

"But I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea.

So Robinson leaves homes and gets aboard a ship. His attitude here and
in the next few chapters represents his attitude at the beginning of
the book. The ship takes him to London, and although they do have a
storm Robinson and the crew are fine. Robinson prays to God for
deliverance, and he is saved. This shows one of his main beliefs in
the opening chapters. Although he may have considered himself
religious he only used God as a solution to the problems he got
himself into,

"If it would please God here to spare my life to this one voyage.

Robinson now starts trying to make himself some money.

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He befriends a
sea captain, who asks Robinson to accompany him on a merchant voyage;
Robinson agrees and accompanies him with £40 worth of trinkets to
sell. In the first voyage he is successful, and makes £300. Crusoe
decides to try this again, but is captured by pirates and enslaved.
After being used as a slave for sometime you would have thought that
Robinson would be able to empathise with his fellow captives, and
develop a hatred for the idea. However, first chance he has he escapes
from captivity, taking a fellow captive 'Xury' as his slave,

"Xury, if you will be faithful to me, I'll make you a great man; but
if you will not… I must throw you into the sea too."

It is experiences like these that show how little Robinson cared for
his fellow man. Also, it reflects his attitudes later in the book
where is obsessed with his power on the island. Slaves in the 17th
century showed your wealth and power, and would have made Robinson
feel important, something that was essential to him.

Robinson eventually is picked up a Portuguese ship. The captain offers
to buy Robinsons boat and Xury and take Robinson to Brazil. Robinson
agrees, handing over Xury, again not showing any care, and is taken to
Brazil where his skill of fitting in with any situation is shown.
Within 3 years of arriving in Brazil Robinson has a successful tobacco
planting business going. Robinson goes with a group of merchants and
planters to look for slaves to work on his plantation. However, this
proves bad for Robinson as he lands upon a desert island.

The average person would find it extremely hard surviving on a desert
island all alone. However, Robinson is not an average person. Robinson
has a unique ability to adapt himself to any situation. Where most
people would question, Robinson accepts,

"I resolved, if possible, to get to the ship,"

And he has soon begun to build himself up a place to live.

Robinson establishes himself a place to live on the island, and a
daily routine upon it. His days are spent much the same, and he always
keeps himself something that reflects his very puritan beliefs. His
days do not show much how his character changes, although there is one
noted difference. This is in his belief. Whereas before Robinson had
used God as his backup plan when everything went wrong, he now starts
to make regular conversion with God. This may have something to do
with his lack of human conversation, but, nonetheless helps him
develop his beliefs.

Robinson seems to enjoy his time on the island as it puts him in a
position he sees as power. He refers to the animals on the island as
his 'subjects' and gives himself fancy names for things he owns and
places he goes that make them sound important and fancy. He calls the
enclosure he finds with nice trees and plants where he builds a home
his 'summer house' and his original home he refers to as his castle,

"returned to my castle".

This importance he has in being powerful is shown again when he finds
his friend 'Friday' who he enjoys teaching and who he asks to call him
'master'.

Robinson also does begin to show compassion. This however does not
show itself straight away, but seems more to come in stages. The first
stage being little different from his previous attitudes,

"And took the kid in my arms, and carried it over my pale, in hopes to
have bred it up tame, but it would not eat, so I was forced to kill it
and eat it myself."

Robinson does however progress, and when he meets his friend 'Friday'
seems to be able to love a fellow human being, who before Robinson
showed little or no respect for.

When Robinson eventually returns to land he discovers that the
Portuguese captain has been good to his word and looked after
Robinsons plantation for him. Robinson is so pleased with his kindness
that he gives him some money.

Robinson is changed in subtle ways by the end of the book. You can see
this in the way he treats people. He is now much more caring and
compassionate. He looks out for others. He shows this by giving the
captain money, and bringing gifts to the people on his island.

He also believes in God more strongly. This is showed in many ways
throughout the book, and is especially obvious when Robinson teaches
Friday about God.

There are also areas where Robinson doesn't change. One of the main of
these is work ethic which he has from the beginning to the end of the
book.

To conclude I would say that Robinson's attitude changes subtly
throughout the book. He becomes a kinder more caring person as a
result of his time on the island. His attitude towards people and
money also changes, but he keeps hold of his better attributes.



Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2003. Print.
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