Robinson Crusoe: by Daniel Defoe - Summary and Analysis

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      The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner (1719), by Daniel Defoe was suggested by the four and a half year marooning of Alexander Selkirk upon Juan Fernandez island from the ship of William Dampier. The book Robinson Crusoe is written in the plain, lucid colloquial prose. Its realism and its prose style entitle it to the claim of being the first English novel.

      Captured at sea by the pirates, Crusoe is wrecked off the South American Coast on a desert island. Clever and resolute, he builds himself living quarters, cultivates food and brings some useful items from the shipwreck. After eighteen lonely years he finds a human footprint in the sand. In the twenty-fourth year of his enforced isolation, he rescues a victim of the cannibals and names him Friday. The native proves a faithful servant until the two are rescued by an English vessel in the twenty-eighth year of Crusoe's island residence.

Robinson Crusoe: by Daniel Defoe
Robinson Crusoe

Critical Analysis
      The universal appeal of the book springs from the struggle of a lone individual to survive amidst hostile surroundings. Crusoe is industrious, clever, practical and pious. Selkirk became a savage in four years, but Crusoe triumphs over surroundings by practical genius and self-reliance. It is a just history of fact. Its detailed realism is its great charm. Its charm, like that of the novel is its intense reality in the succession of thoughts, feelings, incidents which are absolutely true to life. Every thought and action in the fiction - the saving of the cargo of the wrecked ship, the preparation for defence against imaginary foes, the intense agitation over the discovery of the human foot-print in the sand, indulgence in the hope of escape seem to be a record of what the reader will himself do and feel if he was marooned in the island. Moreover, the fiction "is a wonderful study of human will - of patience, fortitude and the indomitable Saxon spirit overcoming all obstacles. He represents the whole human society because he does everything, that he-needs. He is the prudential hero". He is a sober, prudent merchant engaged in business enterprise.

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