Writing style of Daniel Defoe used in his novel Robinson Crusoe.


Answer: The narrator of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, has a prominent style of depending on reason. Defoe, as a journalist, makes the novel seem real, not fiction by mentioning many details. There are lists of objects and actions which make the reader think that whatever happens to Crusoe is true. The author produces this impression of complete reality by employing three main methods which are the using of details, the form of biography or the first person narration and the nautical language.

First of all, Defoe uses many details to make his novel seem realistic in an age not preferring imagination. From the beginning of the novel, he mentions the date and place of his birth and tells the origin of his family. Then, when he plans his escape from slavery, he lists down all the items he intends to take with him. Also, after he reaches the isolated island, he makes eleven voyages to the shipwreck to bring the necessary tools which he needs to live on the island. During this, he describes how he uses large spare of wood and a spare top mast to make a raft on which he carries his necessities to the isolated island. The narrator recounts in detail all the objects and tools he manages to get from the ship. After that, he starts to accommodate himself to live on the island. In that time, he recreates his English life, building homes, necessities, learning how to cook, and raise goats and crops.

Moreover, Defoe uses the form of autobiography or the first person narrator as a way of narration. The narrator, called Robinson, describes his own life and adventures. From the beginning of the novel, he uses the pronoun ‘I’, saying “I was born in the year 1632.”  The narrator is involved in the actions, and he is a part of the plot. Crusoe is the hero of the novel, and the reader knows only what the narrator knows and describes. The reader is forced to take one point of view which is the vision of the narrator. This creates a lack of honesty in the novel, but it provides the reader with the psychological depth of the hero like the religious transformation of Robinson. The protagonist narrates his dream of the angel and his faith in God.

At last, the author uses a nautical language to add a more depth to his realistic narration. For example, Crusoe describes the details of his first voyage and the roads they sail through. He also describes how his ship sinks while two other ships are driven away from their anchors. Furthermore, during his escape from slavery, he depicts that he sails on the African coast. In addition, he mentions that the captain of the voyage from Brazil to Guinea finds that they are in about eleven degrees north latitude. Generally, he gives a great attention to how long he travel by sea.

In Robinson Crusoe, the novelist uses a lot of details in order to make his novel realistic. Robinson provides the reader with a set of details to describe his activities on the island. After he is marooned on the isolated island, he makes several voyages to the wreck of the ship in order to bring the necessary items which he needs to bring on the island. He describes how he uses the most to make a raft on which he carries objects to the island. He describes the goods and tools which he finds on the board of the ship. He finds carpenter’s tools, gun powder, swords, ropes, guns and a heap of money. After that, he starts to build a habitation which consists of a hut and cave. He manages to make boards out of tree woods. He also uses carpenter’s tools to make a chair and a table.

Defoe uses the form of autobiography. The novel describes the life of the hero, Crusoe. He belongs to a middle class family. His father has an estate in York. He has been educated in a country free school. His father wants him to be a lawyer, and advices him to accept the middle class station of life because it is the happiest state in life. Yet, Crusoe refuses to accept his father’s advise because he has strong inclination to explore the world and make adventures. He goes on a voyage against his father’s will. Therefore, he encounters several hardships and crises during one of his voyages; he is exposed to the danger of a shipwreck. He is marooned on an isolated island. He spends many years on the island alone. However, he manages to adapt himself to the hard circumstances of the island. He realizes his faults and atones of his sins. After he supports an English captain against the mutiny of his crew, the captain gives him free passage to England. Defoe took the idea of the novel from the story of a real character, called Alexander Selkirk. The novel is meant to be the life of Selkirk. He was marooned on an isolated island for several years.

Defoe uses first person narrator as a method of narration. This method makes the relation between the narrator and the reader very close. The reader receives all information through Crusoe’s narration. This method makes the novel more authentic and believable. The reader receives information through the speech of the hero himself. The narrator is the one who has gone through the experience which he talks about. Thus, it is first-hand information.

Defoe also uses details of navigational information. Crusoe describes how he sets sail on his first voyage and the storm which strikes the ship. During the storms, two ships have cut their masts by the board. Two other ships are driven from the anchors. Moreover, he describes his voyages from Brazil to Guinea. The captain of the ship finds that they are in about eleven degrees north altitude. Furthermore, he describes how he makes a raft and a boat. This navigational information creates a realistic atmosphere which make Crusoe’s story authentic.