Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe Daniel Defoe’s acclaimed novel, Robinson Crusoe, is not only a great adventurous novel, but an amazing reflection of Defoe’s moral beliefs, personal experiences, and political battles with the English monarchy. Throughout the course of this novel, references to defoe’s own experiences come up again and again. In addition to these numerous references, the general story line of Robinson Crusoe tells a similar story to that of Defoe’s actual life; slightly reminiscent of the prodigal son theme. Daniel Defoe used realism to enhance his novel. While many critics agree with this statement, some think that he should have been more accurate with his realism. Critics also found the book to be very enlightening and beneficial to read and they found that it appealed to a very wide variety of people including the rich and poor, and the young and old.

Last but not least, some critics found that it showed lack of ability to create characters and events. Daniel Defoe was born to James and Mary Defoe in St. Gates, London in 1660. His family were all Dissenters, also known as Presbyterians. He had a very good education and his father hoped that he would become a minister, but he chose to become a merchant after he graduated from his schooling. Defoe’s mother died when he was just ten years old, then his father sent him to a boarding school (Moore 1).

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He was then educated at the Morton Academy,a school fo dissenters(Harvey 215) ,where he was a very good student, and his teacher, the Reverend Me. Norton himself, would later show up as a character in some of Daniel’s fiction.(www.pinkmonkey.com) One year later he married Mary Tuffley, daughter of another dissenter, and also became involved in the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion, which was attempting to take the throne from James II. The rebellion ended up a failure and as a result three of Defoes former schoolmates were caught and hanged, but Defoe narrowly escaped the King’s soldiers. (Moor 1) To the outside world, Defoe seemed to continue to prosper after the Monmouth Rebellion, but by 1692, Daniel had gone bankrupt and ended up owing over 17,000 pounds because of eight separate lawsuits between 1688 and 1692, and though he paid off all but 5,000 pounds within ten years, he was never truly free of debt (Moore 1). Then, writing started to become a larger part of his life.

In 1701, he wrote a satyrical poem called The True-Born Englishman which became the best-selling poem ever at that time. (Moore 1) In 1706, he returned to Scotland and started up a newspaper in Edinburgh called the Post-Man (Moore 2), where he earned the title of ‘The Father of Journalism’. However, the following year The Act of Union was made official (Moore 2) and as a result Defoe lost his job. In 1719, the first volume of Robinson Crusoe was published and became and instant hit, especially with the middle and lower class citizens. After his success with Robinson Crusoe, he published Moll Flanders in 1722, using his experiences in Newgate prison to add realism. Daniel used to go to prison cells and even the scaffold to receive manuscripts for these lives of criminals themselves. Finally, he died on April 24, 1731 in Cripplegate of lethargy (Moore 2).

His first successful novel, Robinson Crusoe, was a very huge hit. It was about a man named Robinson who, even against his father’s wishes, became a sailor. On one of his voyages he became shipwrecked on a deserted island and was the sole survivor, much the way defoe saw himself. Then, he realized that he wasn’t the only one on the island, much like the Monmouth rebellion. He found a group of cannibals and rescued one of them who, in turn, became his servant.

He named him Friday and taught him the ways of Christianity. Then, twenty-eight years later, there was quite a rustle on a ship near by. The crew of the ship had mutinied and the captain and two others were planned to be abandoned on the island also. Crusoe and Friday come to the captains rescue and save the ship for the captain. In return, the captain showed his gratitude by taking them back to England.

While there, Crusoe finds wealth, gets married, and has a family, not unlike Defoe’s own prodigal son type story with dissenting and rebellion against the Church of England. Last but not least, he returns to the sea.(www.sparknotes.com) Daniel Defoe’s use of real life events and accounts helps to add the feeling of actually being there and almost makes you wonder if it’s even fiction. We know his goal was to pass the story off without giving hints of fiction as the preface to the book read: If ever there a story of any private man’s adventures in the world were north making public, and were acceptable when published, the Editor on this account thinks this will be so. The wonders of this man’s life exceed all that (he thinks) is to be found extant; the life one man’s being scarce capable of a greater variety. The story is told with modesty, with seriousness, and with a religious application of events to the uses to which wise men always apply them, viz., to the instruction of others by this example, and to justify and honor the wisdom of Providence in all the variety of our circumstances, let them happen how they will.

The Editor believes the thing to be a just history of fact; neither is there any appearance of fiction in it; and however, thinks, because all such things are dispatched, that the improvement of it, as well to the diversion as to the instruction of the reader, will be the same. And as such, he thinks, without farther compliment to the world, he does them a great service in t he publication (Tucker 89). This preface is basically stating Defoe’s goals of making the novel seem as realistic as possible. The fact that Defoe is attempting to have his stories pass as authentic relations means that he must give the larger features of history and of geography with fidelity .. .. When he fabricates the journal of an imaginary saddler who endured the rigors of the great plague, or describes …