ROBINSON CRUSOE
notes
• Robinson's life and adventures
are interesting and incredible
• The story has been published
to instruct
• It is a true story
First passage
-the beginning of the book: Robinson’s
account of his family background
father, German (a merchant)
mother, English
anglicized name
(Kreutznauer→Crusoe)
two brothers, one dead, one missing
Father-son conflict
Robinson→ rambling thoughts; I
would be satisfied with nothing
but going to sea
father→very ancient; a wise and
grave man
a eulogy of the middle state, the best state in
the world, the most suited to human
happiness
not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the
labour and sufferings, of the mechanick part
of mankind
not embarrassed with the pride, luxury,
ambition, and envy of the upper part of
mankind
Second passage
Robinson wakes up and sees he can reach
the ship
he sees a boat but can’t reach it
he’s about to be overcome by grief but then
takes control of himself and decides to go
on board
he makes a raft to carry his provisions to the
shore
The setting
Stress on his physical + rational efforts
Rational attitude, practical mind
Symbolic value of the SEA and the SHIP
View of NATURE
Third passage
Robinson finds a footprint on the sand
He reflects on how changeable man’s feelings are
according to what happens in his life
He turns to the Scriptures for comfort and
guidance
Idea of PROVIDENCE
God’s rights vs man’s duties
Fourth passage
Detailed description of the “savage”
 -general impression/face expression
 -hair
 -forehead
 -eyes
 -skin colour
 -face
 -nose
 -mouth
 -teeth
Handsome → because he looks
like a European
Friday’s vs Robinson’s behaviour
A slave-master relationship is
«naturally» established
PLOT →3 parts
• Crusoe's early life; disobeying his
father he goes to sea. After a series
of adventures he gets to Brazil where
he becomes a plantation owner.
While going to Africa to get slaves
he's shipwrecked on a desert island.
He's the only survivor; he is rescued
after 28 years.
2. A journal → his life on the island,
how he uses his intelligence and
strength to overcome difficulties and
become the master of the island.
After many years of solitude he
meets a "savage" whom he names
Friday and whom he converts to
Christianity; he also teaches him the
English language and culture.
3. He is rescued, returns to Brazil with
Friday as his servant, finds out he
has become rich.
STYLE
• very matter-of-fact
• little access to Robinson's thoughts
and feelings (even if at times he
reflects on religious matters)
• mainly about actions, objects, events
• no real plot, a diary-like sequence
NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE
• 1st-person narrator
(sort of autobiography)
• different from the author who,
in the Preface, says he's only
an editor
INTERPRETATIONS
Religious allegory → a Puritan dissertation
about man's redemption from sin. Man
must try and be saved through his work
and self-reliance. At first, the island is an
"island of despair", but gradually, through
endurance, hard work, intelligence,
ingenuity, it is transformed into a sort of
paradise of which he's the master. He
does not ask God for salvation, relies only
upon himself.
• Economic allegory → merchant
capitalism: the “civilization” Robinson
establishes on the island is very similar to
the society he comes from. ↓
his property (house, fence)
gathers wealth (stocks of food and supplies)
establishes a strict work routine
He embodies the values of the self-made
man, like a businessman who, starting
from nothing, slowly builds himself an
empire
Imperialist allegory → demonstration
of the white, Christian Robinson's
superiority over Friday, who must be
civilized and converted to the true
religion.
• Robinson sees it as his right to be
lord and master of the island despite
the fact that Friday was there before
him.

ROBINSON CRUSOE - G.VERONESE