Robinson Crusoe

The first sea voyages of the young merchant's son

Robinson Crusoe is the main character and first-person narrator in Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe. He was born in 1632 in York, in northern England (Chapter 1, 0%). Even as a child, Robinson dreams of going to sea and experiencing adventure. Robinson's father is a successful and wealthy merchant who originally comes from Bremen. However, he wants to discourage his son from going on a sea voyage. His warnings do not stop the stubborn young man, who does not ask his father's permission when he decides to leave home (Chapter 1, 0%). We do not know anything about Robinson's mother.

Robinson ignores his father's warning and is persuaded in the port city of Hull by an acquaintance to travel with him to London. At the beginning, the young merchant's son is not yet used to sailing on a ship. He therefore becomes seasick on his first sea voyage. Consequently, he feels great fear because a storm is coming up which causes the ship to sway. However, he gets used to life at sea quite fast (Chapter 1, 48%).

Eight days later, another storm rages. The frightened Robinson is shipwrecked near the English coast. He is eventually rescued, but is too ashamed to return home (Chapter 1, 93%). A short time later, he receives an offer from a friendly captain to sail with him to the coast of Guinea. The young adventurer still wants to see the world and decides to sail with him. He takes along cheap trade goods that he wants to sell for a profit in Africa. The captain becomes a good, fatherly friend to Robinson and teaches him mathematics and navigation (Chapter 2, 10% ).

Captured by pirates

 Robinson's ship is attacked by pirates near the Canary Islands. The crew tries to escape, but the pirates catch up with them. After a terrible and bloody battle, the pirates prove to be better armed and superior, so the ship's crew and Robinson are forced to surrender.

The entire crew is captured and taken by the pirates to Saleh, a Moorish port. Most of the crew is then taken inland. Robinson, however, remains in the port city and becomes the personal slave of the pirate captain. Because he is young and skillful, he has to do menial work for the pirate captain from then on (Chapter 2, 21%). Although he is a prisoner for two years, Robinson never gives up hope of escaping someday (Chapter 2, 28%), which he finally succeeds by tricking his overseer (Chapter 2, 41% - 52%).

One day he is sent on a fishing trip with a guard. After they have not caught much, Robinson suggests going further out to sea. He wants to get a head start that way. When they are far enough, the cunning and strong Robinson sneaks up behind his guardian and throws him overboard. He is convinced that the latter will reach land because he is a good swimmer. This shows Robinson’s compassion. Robinson is very lucky and is discovered at the last moment by a Portuguese merchant ship. He is thus rescued and brought to Brazil.

Adventure and shipwreck

Robinson settles in Brazil for a while and leads a rather comfortable life there with some prosperity (Chapter 3, 50%). But his thirst for adventure does not keep the young Robinson in one place for long. Soon a couple of merchants and plantation owners offer Robinson the opportunity of sailing to Guinea on a slave ship and trading slaves there as an agent. In return, he is to receive slaves as wages. The adventurer accepts the generous offer and sets sail with a crew.

A few days later, his ship is hit by a terrible tornado. The crew is no longer able to steer the ship in this storm, so it drifts aimlessly at sea and finally gets stuck on a sandbank. Fearing that the ship might collapse, the crew flees in a lifeboat, but it is overturned by a large wave. The whole crew drowns, only Robinson is washed ashore completely exhausted. When he wakes up, he quickly realizes that he is stranded on an uninhabited island.

The Lone Islander

During his first 24 years on the Pacific island, Robinson has to survive on his own. Fortunately, the land is fertile, and he can easily find water and food, which are necessary for his survival. Furthermore, the clever young man has excellent practical and craft skills. He is also strong and hardworking. The castaway is very lucky as well, because on the second day after his arrival, he is able to retrieve many things from the wreck, including tools, food, clothes, money, ammunition, weapons, paper, and ink. He rescues the ship's dog as well.

Over the next few years, Robinson builds two dwellings for himself and finds a cave as well, where he stores his weapons and provisions. He builds two protective wal...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in