When the story begins, the setting is England. Some of the action thereafter takes place at sea in various ships. Once the pirates capture Crusoe, the action moves to Sallee, a port in Morocco. After Crusoe's escape from there, the setting moves to the Canary Islands, until a Portuguese ship arrives. For the next few years, the novel is set in Brazil. Then Crusoe
embarks on his ill-fated voyage. After the shipwreck, Crusoe
washes ashore on an uninhabited island, where Crusoe
spends the next twenty-eight years of his life; most of the novel takes place on the island during these years. After Crusoe
is rescued from the island, the setting moves to England, via Lisbon and the land route through Spain and France to Calais. PLOT
Robinson Crusoe, born in York, is the third son in his family. His parents wish to make a lawyer out of young Crusoe, but Crusoe
has other plans. His one great desire is to become a sailor and go to sea. The first foreshadows what lies ahead for the hero. Although his father refuses to give him permission to go to sea, Crusoe
runs away to become a sailor. Although almost all of his initial forays into sea life are disastrous, Crusoe
is not deterred. During one of his trips, the Moors capture his ship, and Crusoe
is taken as a slave. He finally escapes in a boat with another young man. After some interesting adventures, he is rescued by a Portuguese ship. He next lands in Brazil, where his enterprising ways help him to succeed; he becomes a planter and prospers in a few years time. Still not satisfied with his success, he decides to become a slave trader in order to get cheap labor for his plantation. As he travels by boat to find slaves, a storm hits, and his ship is wrecked. All the sailors are drowned except for Crusoe, who is washed ashore on an uninhabited island.
The novel is basically about the life and adventures of Crusoe
on the island, where he lives for the next twenty-eight years. Crusoe
salvages as much as he can from the ship. He builds a home, strong fortifications, plows the land, cultivates corn and rice, and raises goats. His peaceful existence is interrupted when savages land on the island. Crusoe
rescues Friday, one of the savages' prisoners, whom he educates and converts to Christianity. When the cannibals visit next, Friday and Crusoe
rescue two of their prisoners, a Spaniard and a savage. The savage turns out to be Friday's father. An expedition is sent to the mainland in a canoe to bring back sixteen Spaniards who have been marooned there.
An English ship visits the coast, and a few of its crew come ashore in a boat. Crusoe
realizes that the visitors are mutineers and that the captain and men loyal to him are being held as prisoners. With good planning, Crusoe
and Friday subdue the mutineers and rescue the captain and his crew. When the ship sends another boat with men ashore, they are also tricked and captured by Crusoe's men. Now, all that stands in the way of Crusoe's deliverance is the remaining men on the ship. In a final assault, the ship is captured, and the rebel captain is killed. Soon Crusoe
sails from the island in the capture ship and finally reaches England.
Back home, Crusoe
finds that most of his family members have died. He also learns that his plantation in Brazil has thrived during his absence. As a result, he is enormously wealthy. The older, mature Crusoe
is gracious in his new status and generous towards his old friends and the remaining members of his family. There are, however, some more adventures in life for Crusoe
and his friends as they travel the land route through Europe to Calais. In the end, Crusoe
settles down, gets married, and has three children. Many years later he visits his old island and finds it has been settled. He promises to send the inhabitants more essential things from Brazil. On this note the story ends.
the main character of the story, he is a rebellious youth with an inexplicable need to travel. Because of this need, he brings misfortune on himself and is left to fend for himself in a primitive land. The novel essentially chronicles his mental and spiritual development as a result of his isolation. He is a contradictory character; at the same time he is practical ingenuity and immature decisiveness. Xury:
a friend/servant of Crusoe's, he also escapes from the Moors. A simple youth who is dedicated to Crusoe, he is admirable for his willingness to stand by the narrator. However, he does not think for himself. Friday:
another friend/servant of Crusoe's, he spends a number of years on the island with the main character, who
s him from cannibalistic death. Friday is basically Crusoe's protege, a living example of religious justification of the slavery relationship between the two men. His eagerness to be redone in the European image is supposed to convey that this image is indeed the right one. Crusoe's father:
although he appears only briefly in the beginning, he embodies the theme of the merits of Protestant, middle-class living. It is his teachings from which Crusoe
is running, with poor success. Crusoe's mother:
one of the few female figures, she fully supports her husband and will not let Crusoe
go on a voyage.
Crusoe's slave master, he allows for a role reversal of white men as slaves. He apparently is not too swift, however, in that he basically hands Crusoe
an escape opportunity.
Portuguese sea captain:
one of the kindest figures in the book, he is an honest man who embodies all the Christian ideals. Everyone is supposed to admire him for his extreme generosity to the narrator. He almost takes the place of Crusoe's father. Spaniard:
one of the prisoners
d by Crusoe, it is interesting to note that he is treated with much more respect in Crusoe's mind than any of the colored peoples with whom Crusoe
is in contact.
Captured sea captain:
he is an ideal soldier, the intersection between civilized European and savage white man. Crusoe's support of his fight reveals that the narrator no longer has purely religious motivations. Widow:
she is goodness personified, and keeps Crusoe's money safe for him. She is in some way a foil to his mother, who does not support him at all.
the cannibals from across the way, they represent the threat to Crusoe's religious and moral convictions, as well as his safety. He must conquer them before returning to his own world. Negroes:
they help Xury and Crusoe
when they land on their island, and exist in stark contrast to the savages.
Traitorous crew members:
they are an example of white men who do not heed God; they are white savages