Daniel Dafoe’s Popular Novel Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Dafoe’s popular novel, initially titled The Life and Unusual Surprizing Experiences of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived 8 and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having actually been cast on Coast by Shipwreck, where all the Male perished however himself. With an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver ‘d by Pyrates (iii), like many classics underwent many editions through the years.

Nevertheless nothing but the very first edition, which is the basis of this essay, can provide us the feel and look of the time as meant to be shown by the author.

Early Modern English

According to Volume 14 of The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes, Early Modern English period marked the expansion of using the English language outside England. However given that English was spread out at various times it has actually undergone various influences and additional variations brought on by attempts at etymological spelling (Ward et al ch 15 sec 3 par 1).

These were evident in the book in two aspects of language: grammar and vocabulary (Ward et al ch 15 sec 1 par 1-2).

Amongst the inflectional changes throughout the early modern-day English was the dropping of the weak vowel in verbs ending in– ed (Ward et al. ch 15 sec 4 par. 7). Examples of these manifested not only in the title (the word deliver ‘d) however within the text itself such as call ‘d, fill ‘d, encreas ‘d, and fatigu ‘d. Spelling also appeared to be phonetically faulty (Ward et al. ch 15 sec 3 par. 1) with words like perswasions, lyon, lye, and prophetick. Compounding of words were also utilized in the unique by examples of free-school, hand-maids, ground-tackle and fellow-slave. Nevertheless, the modification in the verbs in addition to the flaws in spelling was not used to the whole novel that makes us think about the reasons for such use.

Towards a Pureness in Style

Daniel Defoe, in his book An Essay upon Projects, highlighted that it was the duty of the society to polish and refine the English tongue and to purge it from all the irregular additions that lack of knowledge and affectation have presented as befitted the noblest and most comprehensive of all the repulsive languages worldwide (8 ). The spread of the English language was depicted in the novel when Robinson Crusoe teaches his servant Friday the English language. We may discover from an excerpt of their discourse below that although basically Crusoe and Friday came to communicate efficiently with each other, Friday’s English differs much from Crusoe’s parallel to their difference in status and origin: Friday, My Nation beat much, for all that.

Master, How beat; if your Nation beat them, how come you to be taken? Friday, They more lots of than my Country in the Place where me was; they take one, 2, three, and me; my Nation over beat them in the yonder Place, where me no was; there my Nation take one, 2, fantastic Thousand. Master, However why did not your Side recover you from the Hands of your Enemies then? Friday, They run one, 2, 3, and me, and make go in the Canoe; my Nation have no Canoe that time. (Defoe, “Robinson Crusoe” 254) Much is the exact same scenario that brought about the variations and additions to the English language in which Defoe is demanding pureness (“An Essay upon Projects” 8).

Shoar and Shore. Aside from the defective spelling pointed out earlier is the variation in the spelling (Ward et al. ch 15 sec 3 par. 1). An example if this is the word shore, spelled shore and shoar, in different context of the novel. It may be noted that shoar was only used in the part of Robinson Crusoe’s accidents. That is to say, from the part of his captivity at Sallee up until prior to his wreck on the island. These mishaps, Crusoe later on reviewed, were outcomes of his ignorance in the Providence of God and malcontent hence using the spelling shoar. While his singular life in the island explained the learning procedure he underwent to make it through and finally live harmoniously with his surroundings; thus the renewed usage of the spelling shore. In this regard, one might interpret that using the word was intentional to show the requirement and trouble in producing a requirement for the English language.

viz. and (viz.). The use of foreign language in novels is rather typical throughout the ages. As such, we came to attention on the use of the Latin word viz. Oxford English Dictionary specifies viz. as the abbreviation of videlicet which typically means particularly or that is to state (1033 ). Although Defoe used viz. without parenthesis and viz. in parenthesis based on the very same definition, its participation in the declaration are quite various. The viz. without parenthesis was utilized in recognizing and certifying declarations such as the “All the rest of that Day I invested in afflicting my self at the dismal Scenarios I was given, viz. I had neither Food, Home, Clothing, Weapon, or Place to fly to …” (“Robinson Crusoe” 82). On the other hand, viz. in parenthesis, which appeared in lines like “This was what I want ‘d for; so I took them up, and serv ‘d them as we serve well-known Thieves in England, (viz.) Hang ‘d them in Chains for a Fear to others …” (“Robinson Crusoe” 138), was used as such in order to describe earlier declaration. Using parenthesis to separate using the very same word in the novel further reflects Defoe’s mission for refinement of the English language as mentioned previously.


Undoubtedly, regardless of the plot of the story which classified it to fiction, the culture and language of the time is unmistakable. Robinson Crusoe, in its initial version, permits us the indulgence to peek and appreciate not only the early modern-day English language but the period as well. The versatility of the language then showed the society of that time as it has actually constantly been for any period or age. At the same time, the unique supplied extra place for the author to share his concepts and additional his private attempt towards the shift to the modern English language and insertions to the importance of finding out throughout the spectrum of the society. Such power language has to influence its readers, whether consciously or automatically. And the duality that the unique revealed made it a preferred amongst children and grownups alike. Satisfying its objectives to amuse and propagate (however subtle it may be).

Functions Pointed out
Defoe, Daniel. An Essay Upon Projects. New York City: Adamant Media Corporation, 2005. Print.–. The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived 8 and Twenty Years, all alone in an
unoccupied Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Male perished but himself. With an Account how he was at last as strangely provide ‘d by Pyrates. London: printed for W. Taylor, 1719. Print. Oxford English Dictionary. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print. Ward, Aldolphus William, Sir, et al. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. New York City: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907-21; New York: Bartleby.com, 2000 (Web) April 1, 2009.

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