Western Lit II Lesson 80: “How Important for the Narrative are the Descriptions of the Storms?”

     Robinson Crusoe is a book written in 1719 by Daniel Dafoe. It follows an Englishman named Robinson Crusoe who wants to become sailor, much to his father’s chagrin. Crusoe sets out on a merchant ship, which is hit by a storm. He returns and sets out on another trip, more successful this time, and then another, where he is taken by pirates. He escapes and is taken by a Portuguese man to Brazil, where he establishes a plantation. While he is in the process of sailing to Africa to retrieve slaves to labor on his plantation, he is shipwrecked near Trinidad on an island. After searching for survivors, he realizes that he is the only one left. Forced to survive, he begins his new life on the island where he quickly adapts and learns to survive. He builds a shelter and fashions primitive versions of many of the commodities modern people of the time enjoyed. Many of the supplies on the ship were used either in construction of Crusoe’s shelter, or a gadget, Crusoe also returned to the ship to retrieve what food he could find and other useful products. He keeps track of time by writing the date he arrived on a piece of wood, and adding a notch in the wood every single day. 

     The storms make the story and carry Crusoe not only through the water, but also to his next plot point. The first storm occurs when Crusoe sets out for the first time. He goes with his friend, and they barely escape with their lives. This did not dissuade Crusoe though, he was eager to set out on the ocean once again, it does introduce him to the dangers of sea travel, and foreshadows the rest of the book. 

     The second storm takes Crusoe to his deserted island, where the majority of the plot occurs. The descriptions of the storm are not particularly relevant, though. The simplified version of the description was the storms were terrible and dangerous, it was a necessary plotpoint to mention; however, it was not more important than say the description of the various people he finds on his island. It is just part of the book and does not particularly stand out. Here is a portion of the description of one of the storms:

“But if I can express at this distance the thoughts I had about me at that time, I was in tenfold more horror of mind upon account of my former convictions, and the having returned from them to the resolutions I had wickedly taken at first, than I was at death itself; and these, added to the terror of the storm, put me into such a condition that I can by no words describe it.” – Daniel Dafoe, Robinson Crusoe.

As you can see, it is well written, and of course it is important to the plot, but it is just a part of the story.


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