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Robinson Crusoe as the Prototype British Colonist

            The novel, Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe and first published in 1719, is an important literary piece of the Enlightenment period, as it expresses the Enlightenment themes of individualism, exploration and the rejection of authority. The poet James Joyce has described the character of Robinson Crusoe as the "true prototype of the British colonist"1, and Robinson Crusoe certainly shares many of the characteristics associated with British colonists of the period in which the novel was written. Robinson Crusoe exerts his manly independence by being the lone survivor from the shipwreck, his intelligence in ensuring his sustenance, and shows his well balanced approach to religion in order to comfort himself. These are all characteristics which explain why Joyce describes Crusoe as "the prototype of the British colonist"2. The relationship between Crusoe and Friday is also an important factor which explains what Joyce meant by his description of Crusoe, as Robinson attempts to convert Friday to Christianity, teach him the English language, and rid him of his savage tendencies. Crusoe leaves his comfortable life in England to travel the world, and in his travels he partakes in many of the activities of a British colonist, developing a plantation, and taking part in slavery and the international slave trade. All of these factors I will discuss explain why the character of Robinson Crusoe reflects the roles and characteristics of the British colonist.
             Manly independence is often considered to be a common and necessary trait of the true British colonist at the time of the novel, and this is shown in the character of Robinson Crusoe at various points. An example of this manly independence can be found at the beginning of the novel, when Crusoe discusses the conversations which he had with his Father regarding his desire to travel the world in search of new pastures.

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