THEMES AND CHARACTERS IN ROBINSON CRUSOE
The central themes in the novel are the inter-racial relationship, moralism, religion, philosophical and social beliefs. Another interesting subject is the strong spirit of survival through the anxious solitude and struggle of a shipwrecked man who has to face a new life and domain nature.
All through the book a moral sense is constantly kept. It starts when Robinson defies his father's advise, gets in trouble, enslaved, shipwrecked, and in every occasion, he gets and learns the best of it. In fact, Crusoe feels a real sinner; he was never able to see the signs God sent him, however, he receives the grace of God all the time.
As a Puritan soul testing a solitary ordeal, Robinson realises that internal matters in life prevail on external. From this moment onwards, and without feeling homesick or missing his civilised society, basically the protagonist desires to be relieved from his past sins. The isolation and solitude experienced by Robinson points out the idea of finding a new sense to life through the exploration and exploitation of nature and the creation of a new world.
It also has a strange economic sense. The 18th century belief that God, morality and economics are all somehow one. Robinson Crusoe embodies the conquest of North American people, the domination of nature, the transformation of wilderness into culture, and eventually, the victory.
The rescue of Friday, a "wild creature", supposes to undertake a religious conversion and to educate him into civilised habits. However, Puritans thought that the inhabitants of the New World were to be ignored, killed, or used as servants, as it happens indeed with Friday's father, the cannibals and Friday himself. Contrary to that, the Catholic principle was to convert the savages and to incorporate them into the Christian community, as the only way to spread the Christianism.
The trading bourgeoisie, the expansion of London into the commercial centre of Europe and the further establishment of the British colonial empire shapes the idea of colonisation. The novel is a vivid representation of the Western colonisation that undoubtedly overcomes wilderness, nature and the uncivilised world.When the shipwreck occurred, Robinson is plunged into a survival act. That implies that Robinson's main task is to transform the wild island into a civilised place, a really hard work as he lacks of tools to do it properly.
The story also contains a tribute to work. The majority of the story describes the protagonist efforts at mundane tasks undertaken in the island. The weapons and tools Robinson rescues from the shipwrecks help the protagonist to carry out many of his activities to survive - hunting, fishing, agriculture, and craftsmanship. The main idea is that God places human beings on earth to work. Definitely, their efforts contribute to reach anything desired.
Besides that the important idea of colonisation is mainly articulated when Friday is rescued from the cannibals. From this moment, a complex relationship is developed through Robinson's interaction and Friday response. Robinson wishes many times to have a companionship, but a companionship under his dominance, as he thinks to kill Friday if he does subject to his will. Finally, violence is not needed because Friday submits to Robinson's orders in gratitude for having being rescued. Friday voluntarily accepts a lifelong servitude under a mutual verbal agreement. Indeed, Robinson exercises total authority on Friday; who must obey and be useful to his master. Furthermore, a kind of intimacy between these opposite men is developed, a feeling of brotherhood that exceeds Robinson's colonising position.
When Robinson says: "I was greatly delighted with him, and made it my business to teach him everything that was proper to make him useful, handy, and helpful; but especially to make him speak, and understand me when I spoke....", indeed it reveals Robinson's objective of teaching the savage English language, Western habits, and the new name of Friday with which the savage is rebirthed are obvious attempts for suppressing the savage's culture and wild nature. Language is the powerful element that allow communication between Robinson and Frisay, but the use of the English language, the civilised language, reveals authority and dominion over under races.