Spiritual and Religious Development as an element of Bildungsroman in Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

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Spiritual and Religious Development as an element of Bildungsroman in Robinson Crusoe

Robison Crusoe was written by Daniel Defoe in 1719. It tells the story of the life of Robinson Crusoe, a man born to middle-life society. Robinson crusoe is an eponymous story, it is a bildungsroman and picaresque novel. It follows the storyline of Robinson Crusoe and how he developed spiritually and mentally.

In his early life, he wasn’t religious or developed spiritually. Robinson Crusoe explores themes of spiritual development and religious awakening through the character of Robinson Crusoe. After being shipwrecked on a deserted island, Crusoe undergoes a transformation from a materialistic and self-centered person to a devoutly religious man who finds meaning and purpose in his faith. As he endures hardships and comes to terms with his own mortality, Crusoe’s faith becomes a source of strength and comfort, guiding him through the challenges he faces. The novel explores how a person’s beliefs can change and evolve, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

After some incident,he got stuck in an island during his voyage to Africa, that is ship wrecked leaving him as the only survivor, Robinson soon start to come in terms with the fate that befalls him, Although Crusoe grew up with parents who are quite religious, he did not give much thought to the idea of religion, he is potrayed as a person who is neutral to religion and even his father considered him as “irreligious ” and the idea of this is potrayed when even though his father told him not to go to sea without his blessings if not God would not be with him but Crusoe defies his father’s will and goes to sea even though his father does not want him to .

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Crusoe soon regrets this action when he is at sea and there is a storm he prays to God to keep him alive. The idea of spiritual development can be seen in this scene when him being away from home for the first time he prayed to God, acknowledging the fact that there is infact a God who hears all prayers. The storm eventually settles and Crusoe’s life does not end there. Infact, after the storm he did not go home like he promised God.

On his way to the Canary Islands he is captured by Turkish pirates and made into a slave, after two years an opportunity to escape finally comes and he escapes alongside with a Moorish youth named Xury, they meet a Portuguese captain who is headed for Brazil and they follow him. When they get to Brazil, Crusoe ends up selling Xury to the captain.

Although, he is initially reluctant to do so he eventually does when the captain promises to release Xury in ten years time if he converts to Christianity. Defoe vaguely includes the theme of religion in this as Xury is promised freedom if only his faith has being converted the fact that Crusoe is willing to forsake his companion indicate show strongly the Christian faith is entrenched within him.

      Another instances was also when he started relating to animals in the Island. Crusoe trains a parrot, took a goat as a pet. Crusoe was a selfish being, he never saw the worth of God’s creatures and natures but in the Island, he became more closer to loving his surroundings and natures. Little wonder this spiritual development sprout a turn around in his life, in the novel, Crusoe got lost on the island and the only thing that led him back was the voice of his trained parrot. This would be however said to have possess more meaning than just a mere parrot calling Crusoe but how our creator/super being one adores calls one back to salvation when one feet almost digress out of the religion. The incessant shout of the parrot brought Robinson back, this is captured in “Robin Crusoe! Where are you? Where have you been? How come you here?” His parrot retorted.

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Another instance is the moment an angel came to him which was all an hallucinations but he believed that it was  a revelation from his lord that if he doesn’t repent he us going to lose his life he began to realize hus wrong doing and gradually started to change. This of course  was another mark ground for his religious development and when he fully revovers, Crusoe continues to marvel at the course of events and he attributes all the goodness of the island to God. Crusoe soon saves somebody from cannibals and names him Friday to commemorate the day he saves him. He quickly introduces Friday to Christianity and because of the love and devotion he has for Crusoe, he quickly follows in his footsteps.

Crusoe and Friday soon leave the island with the help of Friday’s father and other Spaniards who look upon Crusoe as God sent and he does not even contradicts their statement because he takes pleasure in the idea. Crusoe arrives at England 35 years after he left it and he treats generously to those who have helped him. Religion is out of the picture as Crusoe arrives at England although not totally. It can be said that religion is a last resort as Crusoe only gets closer to God when he is deserted and needs guidance of some sort.

The denouement culminates not only in Crusoe’s deliverance from the island, but his spiritual deliverance, his acceptance of Christian doctrine, and in his intuition of his own salvation.


He also felt guilty for disobeying his father and he asked for forgiveness every time He also kept a record of his daily activities and every day that passed by in the island on a cross during all this he also developed spiritually which depicted from the very moment he steering into the island after lone surviving a ship wreck

His loneliness was the main reason he started developing spiritually, Robinson Crusoe is a greedy, selfish and never saw the worth of his surrounding and nature but in the island he changed and became more close to God’s creation and started loving his surrounding and nature

Holding from above, the reading audience had realize that the character of Robinson Crusoe has gone through series of life psychological and spiritual development even with his double standard life which create confusion in the mind of readers. The deserted island and some other environmental factors shows his religious and spiritual development.


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