He wrote a lot of works, satirical pamphlets and articles. He's known for 'Robinson Crusoe' (the story of a shipwreck on a desert Island - 1719) - Captain Singleton (the voyage of a captain who became a pirate) - Colonel Jack (story of a pickpocket who repents) - Moll Flanders (the adventures of a woman who becomes a thief and a prostitute to survive but finally leads a respectable life) - Roxana (the adventures of a high - society woman who exploits her beauty to obtain what she wants).
His novels are full of references to god and the bible, in order to justify the didactic purpose of what he wrote (puritanism stated that reality mustn't be reproduced in stories, and that fictionism was a form of lie.).
- Fictional autobiographies (realism);
- A series of episodes and adventures;
- Unifying presence of a single hero;
- Lack of a coherent plot;
- Retrospective 1st person narrator;
- Characters are presented through their actions.
Defoe's purpose was didactic, he tended to give moral teachings, to transform bad people in good people. Usually are presented in the form of a diary in order to increase the idea of realism.
There's not a real plot but episodes are narrated in chronological order and are always about the same protagonist. Characters do not develop throughout the stories but external conditions change.
Individualism/materialism were two of the main characteristics pf the Augustan age. The main character is forced to struggle against a lot of misfortunes, he's forced to count only on himself/herself and has to struggle for survive.
Men must find their salvation, individualism comes from economical success. Isolation is another characteristic: there's no sentimentalism, every day i s a struggle for daily bread (picaresque element)
Description of primary qualities of objects: number, shape, color. Everything useful to give the idea of realism:
solidity, extension, number.
Robinson Crusoe is the middle-class hero. He's pragmatic, the trusts his own abilities, he's able to survive. He shares restlessness with classical heroes of travel literature. (story took inspiration from Alexander Selkirk's one ).
Act of transgression/disobedience (goes against his father's will) and punishment (his isolation on the island after the shipwreck).
Defoe explores the conflict between economical motivation and spiritual salvation: the island is the ideal place for Robinson to prove his qualities organizing a primitive empire because at a certain point he meets Friday, a savage described as European-looking with some racism. Rescuing Friday from the cannibals, he guarantees himself a servant who will be deprived of his own identity.
Dates give you the idea were dealing with a novel. Robinson describes Friday as similar to a white man: attempt to assure the reader. There's a sort of racism under the surface. Robinson is the archetype colonist. This became clear especially in the last part of the novel, after he has met Friday. Their relation perfectly describes the pattern of the relation between the colonist and the native, or master and slave. Robinson's education of Friday closely recalls the process of modern colonialism.
Set in urban society: insight into some social problems (prostitution, crime, provisions for poor orphans)
women weren't able to support themselves legally because they couldn't work. Moll rejects emotional experiences, seen as an impediment to accumulate a capital, and became a prostitute. She's a self-made woman, is Crusoe's female counterpart. The novel includes documents to increase the idea of realism.