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Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 in London into a Puritan family and he was educated at one of the best Dissenting Academies. He may described as a part-time writer part-time businessman, although his wrong speculations on make himself a rich gentleman caused him to go bankrupt. At sixty Defoe suddenly became a novelist with the story of Robinson Crusoe. Another great success was Moll Flanders.
In 1704 he also founded The Review, a periodical. He died in London in 1731 alone and full of debts.

Shortest way with Dissenters

Defoe advocated the total suppression of all Dissenters. An evident attack against ecclesiastical intolerance.
He had to come to terms with his Puritan ideas, according to which fiction was a form lying and consequently wrong, so he decided to write likely/true stories, all containing a moral teaching . His purpose had been the highly moral desire to convert the vicious and to warn the innocent.

Robinson Crusoe

It is Defoe’s first novel and also one of the most popular books. In writing a novel about a shipwrecked sailor on a desert island Defoe was using books about the sea and seems that he have had specifically in mind a Scottish sailor who had managed to survive alone on the island of Juan Fernandez.

Robinson Crusoe is considered the first modern novel. We have a fictitious narrative which the narrator tries to pass off as true, where realistic events are very important. The story is told by a first person narrator by way of diary and is thus a fake autobiography. Places are not generic but carefully described. Robinson is the celebration of the English mercantile classes spirit, the representative of the Englishmen who was colonizing the world, and the archetype pioneer: he is armed only with his own strength and intelligence and has the firm conviction that he has god on his side. He also establishes supremacy over the natives, getting Friday to use his own language and convert to his own religion with the firm conviction of having the duty and the right to do this.

Friday’s physical appearance is described not generically but in detail, which is typical of the novel’s detailed realism. Robinson described Friday as a well-proportioned healthy young man and praises him also for not looking too much like a typical colored man (with a small nose not flat like the negroes), this remarked Robinson’s dislike of non-european races (nauseous tawny of Brazilian, dun olive colour of Friday).
Robinson instructed Friday in the Christian religion and Friday’s comment on the differences between it and his own religion. He also criticize the Catholic Church.

Moll Flanders

is a fake autobiography: Moll tells the story of her life in her old age and unlike Robinson Crusoe the novel doesn’t rely on the fascination of the exotic. Defoe’s heroin is representative of new type of woman. She doesn’t have advantages for a good education or a family, so she has to look after herself in a hostile world. She quickly realizes that her main chance of making her way through the world lies in her ability to exploit her beauty and intelligence, so Moll is set on becoming a gentlewoman: she is ready to sacrifice everything even her virtue. There is a first person narrator who always tries to justify his actions and errors as due to inexperience or bad luck.

The story of her life is an endless series of adventures: she married several times and has several children, she goes to jail, but finally she becomes a rich and respectable woman.
Molly point out her ideas about marriage: it isn’t abstract or the consequence of a prejudice, she considers marriage only a commercial contract in which the man is luckier rather then woman.

Name of protagonist, Realistic novel, Diary, Autobiography, First person narrator
Setting: exotic places and London, Alone and Other People, Man and Woman.

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