Robinson Crusoe: An Adventure in Solitude

by Danielle Clark

This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

When I first read Robinson Crusoe, I’ll admit, it was an assignment. I wasn’t really into the idea of reading a story about a man who gets dumped on an uninhabited island and then finds redemption as he learns to live with himself for twenty-eight years. As soon as I started the story though, I realized that I had the wrong idea that entire time.


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When I first read Robinson Crusoe, I’ll admit, it was an assignment. I wasn’t really into the idea of reading a story about a man who gets dumped on an uninhabited island and then finds redemption as he learns to live with himself for twenty-eight years. As soon as I started the story though, I realized that I had the wrong idea that entire time.

The story is about a man who lives on a deserted island for close to thirty years, but the way nature entwines with the main character, nestling into every cranny of his psyche as he learns that he is just as much a part of the island as the tree he sleeps in or the fire he builds, is really quite magical.

It’s not a story about a man alone on an island for half his lifetime, it’s about a man alone with his thoughts for three decades. Defoe is a master at weaving suspense into a story that only has one character throughout the bulk of the narrative. Crusoe’s witty journal entries in which he questions himself and his surroundings are as intelligent and critically analyzed as a debate between rivals.

This was the first work of fiction that used the epistolary approach to move the narrative, and it works to make Crusoe a believable character. He’s a flawed character who learns, as time passes, that he’s just human, tethered to the will of a greater power.    

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