The novel of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, is an autobiography of an individual man who spends many years on an isolated island. Defoe reveals the idea of individualism through the life of his hero, Robinson.
Defoe’s novel celebrates the idea of individuality. This means that the character lives according to his own-way. He serves his own way. Thus, the novel focuses on the life of individual character. Robinson, the main character of this novel, seeks self-realization, so he yearns to go his own way through life. He acts independently and as he chooses, against the advice of others. This idea goes with the concepts of age of reason. Defoe’s novel is emotionless because it was written in the Age of Reason. Thus, it appeals to the reader’s mind and focuses on the importance of the individual. Defoe’s novel is mainly concerned with the idea of individuality which is shown through Crusoe’s life.
Robinson Crusoe deals with the life of an individual character who yarns to work his way up from the common middle position of life to a high one. Robinson decides his way through life according to his own thoughts and inclination. He is overambitious. He wants to get rich quicker. He is not satisfied with the quiet middle station of life. He seeks self-realization, so he refuses to lead a stable life or to remain inactive for any length of time, and as a result, he rejects his father’s advice to accept the middle position of life. His desire to go to the sea pushes him to leave home and go on voyages. He is seized by an overwhelming desire to travel abroad. He goes on a voyage bound for London against his father’s will. During the voyage, a storm overtakes the ship; he feels regretful and decides veer again to think of going on a voyage if God saves his life.
After he is saved, he refuses to turn home. He has no longing for his family. He proves to be hard-hearted and disobedient. He follows his own inclination and design. In spite of his former oath, he goes on a voyage bound to Africa as a trader. He succeeds in making some money and thereafter decides to become a merchant. He wants to create a life by his own way. He yarns to succeed as an individual. He does not want to depend on his father or inheritance. This time, his ship is attacked by pirates and he is held as a slave. He finds himself alone and miserable. He makes plan to set himself free. When his master asks him to take a boat into the sea to catch fish, he prepares to furnish himself, not for a fishing business but for a voyage. He takes the necessary equipment and food for a long voyage. This shows that he follows his individual thoughts.
After he succeeds to escape from slavery, he settles in Brazil. He becomes a planter. He starts a new life alone. He plants tobacco and other crops and gets prosperous. This shows that he is self-made man. This is related to the idea of individual economy. Yet, he feels dissatisfied with this life. He feels that he gained nothing from all his adventures. He finds that he leads the same life which his father has recommended to him. He feels lonely because he has no relatives or friends in this place. This is not what he has looked forward to achieve. His pride makes him think that he deserves better life. The life of a planter is inferior to his abilities. He is not content with this life. He proves to be ungrateful to God’s blessings. He does not appreciate Gods’ favor after he is saved twice. He does not learn from the previous lessons. This shows his obstinacy. He decides that he must get rich quicker. To that end, he joins a voyage to buy slaves. This reckless abandonment of a settled life for an illicit venture at last provokes God’s anger. His ship is wrecked and he finds himself marooned on an isolated island. He is the only survivor. Yet, he does not actually give way to despair. He does not keep lamenting his fate. He takes action. He adapts himself to these circumstances. He starts to discover the place whether it is inhabited or not. He organizes his life on this island.
He swims to the ship and obtains a large number of articles which can be useful to him on the desolate island. Then, he plans his habitation. He builds a hut and digs a cave into the rock. He makes a calendar to keep count of passing of time. He makes clothes of animals’ skins. He grows barley and rice. He sets up a regular farm to obtain as much food as he needs. He manages to make bread and invents a simple candle. He also dries some fruits to store them for his use. This is related to the idea of individual economy. He manages to create a world out of these simple available things and sources. This shows the didactic purpose of the novel. It teaches the reader many lessons through Robinson’s character. He is a well-organized practical man. He takes advantage of everything even if it is small and trivial. He makes use of everything available to him. He manages to survive on this island. He does not postpone his work until tomorrow. He does not give up easily. He starts to rationalize things especially after the first year. He cares only about his own benefit. He has no emotion. This is seen when he kills a goat which has a kid by her side. The meat of the goat and the kid provides him with food for several days. This shows that man should not allow emotion to come over reason.
In the beginning, he feels imprisoned and isolated but after two years, he becomes more comfortable, and thanks God for his blessings and help. He is very happy to live in a solitary condition and in liberty of society. His isolation is a kind of salvation for him.
In conclusion, the idea of individualism is stressed and highlighted in this novel. Robinson’s character refers to the life of people from the middle class. They don’t inherit money but they make it by their own effort, and with great deal of labor and pain. Robinson does not act passively but he plans his life. He has certain vision which he wants to achieve. He has to face a lot of difficulties and pains. He has to struggle for his own survival.