Analysis of The Complete English Tradesman

Analysis of The Complete English Tradesman

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Analysis of The Complete English Tradesman                                                         


Daniel Defoe's "The Complete English Tradesman", is a good example of his non-fiction writing. The content in the writing is thorough and well presented by Defoe. In the writing, Defoe explains what his opinions on what it means to be an English tradesman. Contrary to some experienced tradesmen, he believes that to be a good tradesman, one needs to acquaint himself with all business in general. According to Defoe, application is of more importance than diligence in business. "Without application nothing in this world goes forward as it should.." Tradesmen of Defoe's day said that there needs to be an aggressive passion in how one handles business, and anger and temper sometimes are necessary. Defoe also challenges this. He believes a "complete tradesman" should not show the least return, signal of disgust, no passions or fire in his temper. A complete tradesman should be soft and smooth, showing little emotion. Basically, Defoe explains how to be by his definition a complete tradesman. "When a tradesman has thus conquered all his passion, and can stand before the storm of impertinence, he is said to be fitted up for the main article, namely, the inside of the counter." The content of the writing is very comprehensive, covering many aspects of being a tradesman.

The content that has already been praised, is presented very well. Defoe organizes the information into letters to all tradesman of England. The writing is a collection of letters to English tradesman, each addressing a different issue. Defoe makes it clear that the information is based on opinion, so there are no false leads. For example, "It its the judgment of some experienced tradesman that no man ought to go form one business to another... I, myself will not enter that dispute here. I know some very encouraging..." Defoe also provides examples by making a story using a script format.

"Lady. No I can't he'd use me.

Cit. How does your ladship know?

Lady. Why, I know...."

Defoe uses different techniques and ideas to present the content well in this piece.

In Daniel Defoe's "The Complete Tradesman", the description usage is adequate, but in a few cases it is a little too much. There is enough description to explain the whole situation, but it is not overdone to tire the reader.

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Defoe gives many examples, and support, but the descriptions and adjectives/adverbs are straight to the point. In some of his other writings, he has a tendency to elaborate with many details, but this writing is clearly, and concisely written. The sentences consisted of less adjectives, but more substance. "I know some very encouraging examples of the contrary, and which stand as remarkable instances, or as exception to the general rule." The description was well used throughout the writing.


For the most part, the description was well used, but the problem Defoe has with description in this writing is when he crams it all into one sentence, making one long confusing sentence. For example, "It cannot be expected that he should have judgment in the choice of all kinds of goods, though in a great many he may have judgment too; but there is a general understanding in trade; which every tradesman both may and ought to arrive to; and this perfectly qualifies him to engage in any new undertaking, and to embark with other persons better qualified than himself, in any new trade which he was not in before; in which, tho' he may not have a particular knowledge and judgment in the goods they are to deal in or make, yet having the benefit of the knowledge his new partner is master of, and being himself apt to take in all additional lights, he soon becomes experienced, and the knowledge of all the other parts of business qualifies him to be a sufficient partner." By doing this, the reader gets lost in the sentence and it is hard for the reader to back track. In a few cases, one shown here, the description was overdone by cramming a lot into one sentence.

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