Defoe and Crusoe



Daniel  Defoe (1660-1731) was quite the writer. He is  most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe of course, which I will be talking about later in this small essay. Defoe did not just sit down one day and wrote the, according to me, most wonderful book ever! No, he had written a lot of things before writing his masterpiece. He had written over 500 books, pamphlets and journals and they the all differed in subject, including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural. So Defoe had covered a lot of ground over the years before creating the adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

Defoe was not even his real name, his real name was Daniel Foe and he added the “De” because it sounded aristocratic (in other words, it sounded nice) and so he could sometimes  claim that he descended from the “De Beau Faux” familiy

The book of Robinson Crusoe is, in short terms, about a young Englishman who becomes stranded on an island, a lot more happens before that but that is the core story of the book.

The book is actually based on a true story! Defoe based his story on the unfortunate adeventure of a Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk who was rescued by an expedition after four years on the island of Más a tierra in the Juan Fernández Islands off the Chilean coast. Crusoe shares the same experience as Selkirk, he becomes stranded on an island forty miles from the African coast, there he builds his new life and stays on that island for 28 years.


When I read the book I am always astounded over Robinsons achievments on the island, even though I have read the book like, fifteen times. When he single handedly builds a boat out of a tree trunk, even when he decides to make raisins I constantly become baffled over how intuitive and determined Defoe has written Crusoe. Robinson makes his own clothing from animal skin, builds a small fortress with a fence and tames a number of animals, including a parrot which he teaches how to talk so he would not feel alone. This book is fantastic, but the one bit that bothers me the most is when Crusoe meets Friday.


If you have not read the book, then go and do it and then come back, because then you have missed something truly awesome!

Anyway, Robinson rescues Friday from his own tribe members and then the book, well it becomes quite racist. A soon Friday get’s a hold of the situation he immediately throws himself at Robinsons feet and places his foot on his own head, as a symbol showing that Friday is now forever Crusoe’s slave. Robinson takes on the role of the superior white European who possesses nice clothing and superior technology, in opposite to the uneducated heathens which are the tribe members.

Robinson takes Friday in and teaches him how to be civilised by giving him clothes, to give up cannibalism and he also teaches him the teachings of Christianity. This gives Crusoe a role of a God, who brings enlightenment to the poor islanders. A superior, white, European male who brings wonders and civilisation to a forgotten island, that’s new.¨


Now, if you know anything about Daniel Defoe you would know that he had certain view of life. He believed that you won’t get anywhere in life by sitting in a classroom all day, reading about other peoples experiences. His thoughts were that in order to learn you have to go out in nature and learn to which I totally agree, to a certain degree. I think that you won’t truly learn  unless you do it practically and I think that is what Defoe meant.

//Gabriel F

Postat av: Gabriel

Had an attack of serious paranoia, if i wrote the wrong philosopher for the correct philosophy i am very sorry:)

2011-03-30 @ 17:24:50
Postat av: Ylva

Thank you for a very interesting and distinctively personal entry!

Love "The wrong philosopher for the correct philosophy" - so much better than the other way around!=)

Defoe had very strong opinions on education. In Robinson Crusoe we can clearly see that he - as I interpret your comments - prefers knowledge that can be of practical value. Knowledge of the right kind is what keeps us alive - science preferably! However, Defoe could be a friend of classical lerning too - and he was an eager defender of woman's right to education. In his "On the education of Women" he wrote (and as a woman and history teacher I can only agree) "They should be brought to read books, and especially history; and so to read as to make them understand the world". Fantastic! =)

Thanks again for a great entry! /Ylva

2011-03-30 @ 17:48:27

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