Monday, February 8, 2010

characters and characteristics of robinson crusoe

Characters

Captain of the Guinea Trading Ship

Arriving in London, Crusoe happens to meet the master of a ship bound for Guinea. The two men become friends, and Crusoe decides to make the journey too. Unfortunately, the man dies en route to Guinea.

Captain's Widow

The widow of Crusoe's friend the Captain of the Guinea Trading Ship is one of the two substantial female characters in the book. A trustworthy friend, she watches his money and becomes his London agent.

These responsibilities are appropriate to the gender roles governing the London financial district. Women as well as men were investors in the Bank of England — affectionately known as the lady of Threadneedle Street.

Comrade in Hull

Crusoe meets a friend in Hull who offers him a trip to London. This friend represents the youth of the English mercantile class as well as a life of adventure. He inspires Crusoe in his dreams of a life at sea.

The Comrade's Father

The Comrade's father is the master of the first vessel Crusoe travels on in Yarmouth, where he goes to recover. When his comrade tells his father that Crusoe was on the vessel as a sailor, he tells Crusoe that he ought to give up seafaring.

The Comrade's father resembles Crusoe's own father. They are both old-fashioned men and fearful of change. For them, a man's destiny is determined at birth.

Robinson Crusoe

The protagonist of Defoe's fictional autobiography, Crusoe is an adventurous man who rejects the expectations of his family and the constraints of the English middle class for a life on the high seas. After a devastating wreck at sea — of which he is the only survivor — he is forced to live confront his fear about being alone in order to survive the harsh demands of his lonely and solitary existence.

Crusoe is not by nature a brave man. In time, his reason grows sharper and he conquers his fears. In fact, for a time he wanders the island without any weaponry. He learns how to do many diverse tasks, such as making an ax, baking bread, and building an elaborate shelter. When faced with marauding cannibals, he attacks them and rescues their captives. Finally, when he returns to London, he is able to readjust to English life and even gets married and has a family.

Friday

Friday is a native rescued by Crusoe; the young man eventually becomes his loyal servant. He is described by Crusoe as a Creole — a mix of African and Indian — and represents the wildness of nature. Through his relationship with Friday, Crusoe is able to confront his fear of the native people of the region.

When Friday offers to exchange ideas with Crusoe on religion or technology, Crusoe refuses to learn from his knowledge. For example, when they begin to build a boat together, Friday wants to show Crusoe how to burn out the inside. Crusoe, however, insists on the more laborious method of using a hatchet. Crusoe's reluctance to treat Friday as an equal symbolizes general European attitudes toward "the savage."

Eventually, Friday becomes Europeanized, accepting English customs and religious concepts. He symbolizes the process of colonialization.

Mr. Kreutznaer

Crusoe's father is an immigrant from the town of Bremen, Germany. A merchant by trade, Mr. Kreutznaer's name is changed in England to Crusoe. He is a "wise and grave man" who pleads with Crusoe to give up his notions of adventure and settle in England at a solid middle-class occupation like law.

Mrs. Kreutznaer

Although his mother refuses to intercede on Crusoe's behalf and win him his father's blessing, she does support her son in private. She represents the "proper woman" referred to at the end — a hard worker who is not afraid of risks.

Old Savage

The Old Savage is one of the captives rescued by Crusoe and Friday; surprisingly, he turns out to be Friday's father. He too pledges allegiance to Crusoe.

Portuguese Captain

The Portuguese Captain's ship rescues Crusoe from Africa, takes him to Brazil, and purchases Xury. He also helps invest Crusoe's money and acts as a father figure for him. He is an honest pilot of his crew and vessel and he serves Crusoe faithfully.

The Spaniard

The Spaniard is one of the captives rescued by Crusoe and Friday. After they release and give him a weapon, the group is able to kill many of the cannibals. The Spaniard turns out to be an honest fellow who advises Crusoe to expand the plantation. The Spaniard's belief in Roman Catholicism is of no importance to Crusoe; what matters to him is that the Spaniard has a good work ethic and a true sense of honor.

Mr. Wells

Mr. Wells is Crusoe's Portuguese neighbor; his plantation is next to Crusoe's in Brazil. Crusoe and Mr. Wells exchange labor and help each other when needed — a common practice for colonizers at that time. Accordingly, they become good friends and look out for each other's affairs. It is Wells who takes over the management of Crusoe's estate while he lives on his island. Wells represents the settler and plantation operator.

Xury

Xury is a servant that is forced into slavery with Crusoe. Fortunately, they are able to escape their masters. Xury, like Friday, naturally assumes the role of obedient and affectionate slave. Xury represents a European's notion of the non-European. He has better natural instincts — he is a natural hunter, a hide processor, he can see better at night (or day, for it is Xury who spots the Portuguese ship), and his sense of self-preservation is keener. Xury agrees to being sold into slavery on the condition that if he converts to Christianity he will be free in ten years.

Media Adaptations

* Since the silent black-and-white film in 1916 with Robert Paton Gibbs, there have been some sixteen film adaptations of Robinson Crusoe. This count includes versions in French, Spanish, Russian, Swiss, and German.
* However, this count does not include all of the spin-offs, such as a female Crusoe — as early as a silent film made in 1917 — or animations of Crusoe as a rodent in, Rabbitson Crusoe (1956). In 1965, Robinson Crusoe was made into a TV series. The book was made into a TV movie in the United Kingdom in 1974.
* The most recent movie adapted from Defoe's novel is Robinson Crusoe (1996), produced by USA pictures. Directed by Rod Hardy and George Miller, Pierce Brosnan stars as a lovestruck Robinson Crusoe separated from the object of his desire.

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