Adventure: Life as a Perilous Journey Robinson Crusoe goes to sea in search of high adventure rather than lead a humdrum life in England. He finds more than his share of adventure on several ships in stormy seas, in several countries on two continents, and on an island on which he must tame nature, learn survival skills, and fight savages. In some ways, he represents every man on his journey through life, as did Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey, coping with many dangers and ultimately returning home after a long time.
Importance of Religion
Robinson Crusoe not only discovers the world–or a goodly part of it–during his adventures. He also discovers the importance of religion in his life. Once a lukewarm Christian, he becomes a devout Christian after interpreting stormy seas as signs of God's displeasure and after becoming marooned and struggling through an illness. He writes:
I daily read the word of God, and applied all the comforts of it to my present state. One morning, being very sad, I opened the Bible upon these words, "I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Immediately it occurred that these words were to me; why else should they be directed in such a manner, just at the moment when I was mourning over my condition, as one forsaken of God and man? "Well, then," said I, "if God does not forsake me, of what ill consequence can it be, or what matters it, though the world should all forsake me, seeing on the other hand, if I had all the world, and should lose the favour and blessing of God, there would be no comparison in the loss?"
Freedom and Slavery
In the beginning of the novel, Robinson Crusoe yearns to be free and independent. When he goes to sea, he escapes the prison of ordinary life in England. In the rest of the novel, Crusoe repeatedly struggles for freedom–from an angry sea, from pirates who capture him, from an empty pocketbook, from a foundering ship, from fear and hunger, from the confines of his island. Others seek freedom as well, including mutineers, their captives, and the captives of cannibals. Ironically, Crusoe tolerates and benefits by people who know no freedom, slaves.
Colonialism and Capitalism
In the second half of the 17th Century, when the action in the novel takes place, European companies vied for control and exploitation of colonized lands around the world. Crusoe appears to represent this imperialist spirit, first when he goes to Guinea, next when he travels to Brazil and opens a plantation, and finally when he becomes "king" of an island.
Crusoe learns to depend on his wits and talents to survive. On his island, he makes furniture, grows crops, and tames and uses animals.
Crusoe’s loneliness on the island evolves into solitude. Being alone terrified him when he arrived; later, aloneness became desirable. Theologian Paul Tillich once observed, “Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.” Crusoe came to appreciate the glory of being alone. His anxiety at discovering a human footprint is therefore quite understandable.
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