Literature Week 16 Robinson Crusoe

Prompt: “How important for the narrative are the descriptions of the storms?”

In Daniel Defoe’s fictional autobiography The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, or more commonly known simply as Robinson Crusoe, the title character defies the advice of his family and starts a life out at sea. His father warns him of the misery this decision will bring, and his friends beg him to resist the urge for adventure and stay safe on dry land. Crusoe hears each party out, but eventually succumbs to the call of the sea and sets out on a voyage. Once he’s out on the water an enormous storm hits his ship, a universal reminder that Crusoe’s defiance of his loved ones will indeed bring misery. Crusoe is terrified, and prays a vow to God that he will return straight home if he survives the storm. The storm subsides, and Crusoe’s ship survives.

After the storm is gone the severity of Crusoe’s vow slips his mind, and instead of returning home he continues on his journey. That night another storm rips through the atmosphere, this one even darker and more destructive than the last. Crusoe pleads for forgiveness, but its too late and his ship goes down. The crew perishes, but Crusoe manages to survive on a small dinghy and is washed back to shore. For the second time Crusoe is given a chance to follow through with his vow, but he decides against it and looks for another ship. He meets a kind and generous captain who offers to give him a free ride upon his vessel. Crusoe rides with the captain for several months, managing to earn a decent amount of money during his time on the ship.

The generous captain suddenly dies, and the ship is ransacked by pirates. Crusoe is captured and forced to become a household slave. In his time as a slave he gains the trust of his master, who one day offers to take Crusoe and a few others out for a good time upon a ship. When everyones off their guard Crusoe throws one of his masters friends off the ship, then he steals a young cabin boy as his hostage/slave and escapes. He and the boy travel down beside Africa, where they see strange beasts who swim out to them and attempt to attack their boat. These beasts are revealed to be a lion and a panther, and Crusoe ends up shooting both and taking their skins back with him.

Crusoe certainly had luck on his side, as he meets a second generous captain who offers him a free ride to Brazil. This captain also buys Crusoe’s small boat and the two skins he had collected, and Crusoe uses the money he earns to buy a plantation. Crusoe becomes prosperous off this plantation, and eventually decides to get into the slave trade. But while on his way to Africa another violent storm picks up and Crusoe is castaway onto an deserted island. The ship he was riding somehow survives not too far off the shore of the island, but all of his other crew mates had perished in the storm. Crusoe collects whatever he can off the ship, and builds a primitive shelter for himself.

The storms in Robinson Crusoe represent the wrath of God, and only seem to appear when Crusoe rebells in some shape or form. The first storm appeared after Crusoe’s rebellion against his family’s advice, and the second one once his broke his vow to return home. The third, and certainly the most detrimental of the three, occurred after Crusoe decided to buy slaves from Africa for his plantation. So it seems that the storms are Gods judgement of Crusoe, muddling his path and wrecking his vessels. When Crusoe rebells, either against his family or simply against morality, God sends a storm of destruction to tear down Crusoe’s rebellion.

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