This study guide will help you analyze the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. You can also find a summary of the text, detailed characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Excerpt from the study guide:
Robinson is aware of the presence of cannibals in this part of the world. He lives peacefully on the uninhabited island for 16 years before discovering footprints on the beach. He now realizes that he is not entirely alone on the island. He fears an attack by cannibals, whom he suspects are on the neighboring islands. Panicking, he speaks to himself:
Then terrible thoughts racked my imagination about their having found out my boat, and that there were people here; and that, if so, I should certainly have them come again in greater numbers and devour me; that if it should happen that they should not find me, yet they would find my enclosure, destroy all my corn, and carry away all my flock of tame goats, and I should perish at last for mere want. (Chapter 11: 52%)
Robinson responds to his “fear of danger” (Chapter 11, 77%) with increased precautions. He spends the following years striving to make his dwelling a safe and concealed fortress, sparing no effort (Chapter 11, 87% -100%). He plants an entire forest around his dwelling and builds a defense system to repel any attack.
One day Robinson makes a terrible discovery that makes him feel sick:
nor is it possible for me to express the horror of my mind at seeing the shore spread with skulls, hands, feet, and other bones of human bodies; and particularly I observed a place where there had been a fire made, and a circle dug in the earth, like a cockpit, where I supposed the savage wretches had sat down to their human feastings upon the bodies of their fellow-creatures. (Chapter 12, 13%)
He therefore makes plans to shoot the cannibals.
Robinson's fear can be seen in situations that are beyond his control, such as storms, earthquakes, and illness, and in relation to the man-eaters before he meets Friday. There are many instances where the hero tells of very dangerous situations, for example when he is captured by Moorish pirates or in his fight against the mutineers, when he keeps a cool head and is in full control of the situation. The first-person narrator focuses more on the detailed and precise description of his heroic deeds and his function as a fearless leader or commander (see characterization of “Robinson”) than on his fear and anxiety.
Although Robinson had to go through a lot on the island in the 28 years he spent there and experienced several shipwrecks, he did not shy away from undertaking more sea voyages, as he reports at the end of the book.