Robinson Crusoe and Defoe’s Views on the Contemporary Society

Robinson Crusoe by Danielle Defoe is not a simple adventure book. This book challenges social, political an economic norms of the contemporary society. In the beginning of the book we can see how Defoe depicts his contemporary society.  He criticizes England’s society, its social and political structure. Robinson Crusoe is in conflict with his family because he did not meet their high expectations and did not get high social standing.  As he states himself about his relationship with his parents, “my father…gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design” (Defoe 8). The novel has an autobiographical background. The protagonist of the novel possesses many features common with the author. Same like Crusoe, Defoe rebelled against his family. In reality this rebellion has deeper meaning than usual family quarrels.  In this novel parents become incarnation of the entire social and political system, which irritated Defoe so much. This way the tale about the shipwreck of one ordinary man become a perfect mean to criticize British society. Despite the novel is based on a true story, which happened to a Scottish sailor named Alexander Selkirk, Defoe uses this story only as a mean to pass his thoughts to the readers. The story is full of irony and it uncovers social vices in easy and simple manner, which makes the book appealing for different sorts of readers. The book is an utopia. The protagonist of the novel, who finds himself along on the desert island after the shipwreck, creates an utopian society. The question about an ideal society was very popular during the time when the novel was written. Prominent political and social figures and people of art tried to figure out a model of an ideal society.  Many people were prosecuted for their views and political likings. Defoe had his own idea about an ideal  society. He believed that there was a way to create and ideal society but there was one condition ”“ this society should be without men. On the example of his protagonist, Defoe shows how this ideal society will look like and how it will function. Defoe shows what it is like to live in the ideal world, when man lives alone and far away from society.   In this new type of society man finally became absolutely free. Except of physical isolation from other people, the protagonist can experience any kind of freedom, including political, social and religions freedom. The protagonist of the novel is happy living alone in his ideal society. “It was now that I began sensibly to feel how much more happy this life I now led was than the wicked, cursed, abominable life I led all the past part of my days”(Defoe 113). Shipwreck, which seemed to Robinson Crusoe God’s punishment for his sins turned to be a way for him to discover his inner potential and to discover  perfect social order. As Robinson himself states about his life on the island,” “I cared not if I was never to remove from the place where I lived. I lived there.. perfectly and completely happy, if any such thing as complete happiness can be formed in a sublunary state” (Defoe 217). Being along on the desert island brought Robinson new understanding of himself and other people. Living there he stops efforts to run away from his problems and starts seing the truth about himself, society and other people. He discovers a rare ability to make useful everything, which surrounds him. On the example of Robinson Crusoe Defoe shows that living in peace and harmony with nature is possible and even natural for human beings in contrast to contemporary life, when men spend their lives fighting nature and brining damage to the environment.

By the end of the novel we see that ideal of living in complete isolation becomes not that perfect for the protagonist. Robinson starts missing other people. It is necessary to remember that people are social creatures and they can discover themselves only through the communication with other people. Personality is developed through our lives and can be influenced and changed by the surrounding. The development of the personalities of the children is greatly influenced by the parents and school and good conditions can create a very good opportunity for the successful future life of the child.  The level of the personality development is seen through the marks of others in addition to our own self-perception and self-esteem. The abilities to interact with other people and to correspond the needs of the society define the characteristics of well-socialized personality. We can easily see it on the example of Robinson Crusoe.  He can not leave outside the society an even creates a simple model of this society on his deserted island.

Daniel Defoe’s famous book Robinson Crusoe gives us an idea about the kind of loneliness and isolation, which experiences the main character when he gets to the deserted island. Robinson Crusoe finds himself in the complete isolation when he gets to the island after the ship wrack. Robinson has to struggle for his life, to look for new ways to get food and shelter. He has to invent different gadgets in order to survive, he has to meet difficult environmental conditions, but very soon he realizes that these are not the worst things that happen to him. Very soon he realizes that loneliness can be even more difficult ordeal. He has to deal with the absence of friends and isolation. He does different things in order to escape this feeling. His feelings change from depression and despair to hope and vice versa. Robinson turns to routine occupations, sometimes useless, in order to entertain himself and escape loneliness.

Finally he comes in terms with his loneliness when he finds a friend. After a period of loneliness he finally gets an opportunity to communicate with another person. Despite they do not share a common language and do no understand each other, they use non-verbal communication. This becomes enough for Robinson after the period of loneliness.

Robinson Crusoe by Danielle Defoe has several levels of meaning. From the one side it is a story of a person, who survived in very difficult life conditions and used them as a chance for growth and development. Being on the desert island, Robinson finds inner strength to overcome fear and pessimistic attitude, he got from the upbringing and society. From the other side the book can be treated as skillful critics of the Defoe’s contemporary society and describing and an ideal one, created by Robinson on his island.

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