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Throughout Daniel Defoe’s, Robinson Crusoe one may see the effects of solitude on the development and life of the main character. When Robinson Crusoe becomes stranded on a desolate island, he must do whatever is necessary to survive. After being on the island for several years Crusoe learns to adapt to his surroundings and live with what he has. One thing he does not have for most of his stay there is a companion, another person to talk to, someone to share his thoughts with and help him out. To fulfill his desires of wanting company, Crusoe decides to let God become his companion. He starts to read the Bible and learn Christianity. Defoe seems to be a very strong believer in God. He believes that God’s providence shapes the lives of all men and that any unusual circumstances or misfortunes that occur happen because that is the way God wanted it. Throughout the novel one can see other instances of divine intervention in Crusoe’s life. Even though Robinson Crusoe is under impractical circumstances, stranded on this remote island, his isolation enables him to learn numerous things and become a devote Christian. He learns how to become an architect, a carpenter, a baker, a tailor, a farmer, an umbrella maker, and even a preacher. Crusoe becomes a very independent and resourceful individual as the novel progresses.
In the 17th century, the Catholic reform was sweeping through many parts of Europe. The period from 1600 to about 1750 is known as the Baroque Era. Throughout this period the Catholic Church was fighting back against the effects of the Renaissance. The people of the Renaissance society started to question their beliefs in the church and tried to rationally explain the world around them. Several crusades were fought throughout this period and in the end England and France became “Christianized.” Robinson Crusoe was published during the Baroque Era and it contained a great amount of Catholicism. Crusoe becomes a good Christian during his lonely stay on the deserted island and he also converts his companion Friday when he arrives on the island from cannibalism to Christianity. Crusoe believes that God put him on the island because that was his fate and that he must be happy with what God has chosen for him. This is the reason why Crusoe looks at the positive side of all things. Crusoe has been placed on this barren island as a punishment for his sins (disobeying his father) and for leaving his middle station of life.
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The psychological condition of Robinson Crusoe was not just totally imagined by Daniel Defoe. Defoe was not a stranger to the life of imprisonment. In the early 18th century, Defoe was imprisoned for about six months. He was thrown in jail because of a controversial pamphlet that he wrote called The Shortest Was With Dissenters. In this pamphlet Defoe humorously implied that all people who were not members of the Church of England should be killed. This imprisonment may have given Defoe several thoughts of what is like to be totally cut off from civilization. One may see the severity of Crusoe’s loneliness and lack of human companionship after his illness goes away. When he is better Crusoe is crying to God asking him why he has being punished in such a cruel manner. This gives the reader an idea of how Crusoe is feeling at that time in his life. He is extremely unhappy with his secular condition and that he has nobody to live with or speak to. This point is very important later on in the novel.
As Robinson Crusoe survives on his island and adapts very well to his surroundings he becomes lonely and wishes for some companionship. During his stay on the island Crusoe trains a parrot to speak to him just so he can hear another voice, even though it is just a repetition of his own words. Since he has an enormous amount of time on his hands, he takes the time to learn his scriptures well and become a companion to the Lord. If he was not stuck on the island by himself, he would have most likely forgotten about his religion as he did in the beginning of the novel. When Crusoe takes his first voyage on sea he is met with a great storm. During this storm he promises God that he will go home to his father if he survives. Once the storm stops and his fears are over, Crusoe abandons the promise that he made to the Lord.
It seems as if Crusoe would have given anything just to have another person with him on the island, but that turns out not to be the case when he is walking on the beach one day. As he is exploring his island he notices a footprint of a man in the sand. If he would have found this foot print in the first part of his stay on the island he might have been extremely happy that he is not alone on the island. He would also have been relieved that there were other inhabitants of the island and that there was a hope of salvation, but instead he has found it after many years of hard work and dedication. Now that he finds this foot print he totally flips his lid. He becomes terribly paranoid and very careful. He goes and covers anything that would give the owner of the foot print an idea that he lives on the island. This goes on for several years as Crusoe constructs a wall that may not be penetrated around his house, his plantation and his animals. Originally Crusoe craved for a companion and to speak to another person, but now the thing that he yearned for the most was what he feared even more. As this fear set in Crusoe temporarily forgets about the Divine Providence of God and the possibility of being saved. Being in solitude for so long has finally started to have psychological effects on Crusoe. He becomes totally enraged with the thought of another human on his island and he prepares his house for a war. He arms all of his weapons and is ready to kill anyone that comes near his sacred home, grain, or animals. The discovery of this footprint brings out the best and worst of his desires, the possible reunion with a human being or the frightening thought of the penetration of his body and home. Man is now a threat as much as a savior is. His condition is now evident: the strength of his character that has made him flourish in isolation has now distorted all his social instincts and civilized manners. He only feels comfortable with himself, his animals, and the Lord in which he can trust
Crusoe lives in fear of the footprint for the next couple of years. The print made a huge effect on his lifestyle. He changed the way he did everything, such as killing goats without his gun. He spends much of the next few years in hiding instead of exploring. After several years of this fear, he finally realizes that his opposition might be a way for him to change his current status and escape off the island.
Crusoe has become extremely confused during his stay on the island. At first he dreams for someone to come and save him, then he fears that someone will try to destroy him, and then later on in the novel he once again wishes for companionship and rescues Friday from savages. This confusion on the part of Crusoe is due to his current state. He has been isolated from civilization for more than fifteen years and it has driven him to the point of uncertainty, paranoia, and slight lunacy. Once he saves Friday he is satisfied with his decision and is very glad to hear the voice of someone else even though he does not comprehend anything that Friday is saying. Crusoe believes that Friday is a present from the Providence and that he is not going to be on the island for much longer. Once again he thinks that Friday is the deliverance from God and that it is his time to escape because that is his destiny.
Throughout this work by Daniel Defoe, one can see the intervention of Divine Providence and the effect of the isolation on the life of Robinson Crusoe. As he is stranded on this barren island he has an unusually large amount of time on his hands that allows him to develop many skills, read the Bible and become a devoted Christian. Throughout the novel Crusoe has a change of mind several times in regard to the coexistence of another human being on his island.