Neoclassical Period in England had many concepts and ideas regarding the social structure, literature. Regarding the literature area of its period, one can give the example of Daniel Defoe’s work Robinson Crusoe, which has many aspects to represent Neoclassical Period. Therefore, this essay is going to analyse Daniel Defoe’s work Robinson Crusoe by giving references to Neoclassical Period and its properties.
To start with, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), who is the writer of Robinson Crusoe, was both English journalist and novelist. He was puritan, lived in neo-classical period and had interest in trade which influenced most of his works. His work, Robinson Crusoe tells the story of a man shipwrecked on a desert island. It is inspired by the various accounts of sea adventures which were published on newspapers and widely appreciated by tradesman, merchants, and middle-class readers, who could not travel and see the world but could see themselves in the protagonist, who lives his adventure.
Mentioning about the puritan values, Robinson Crusoe was a realistic and detailed description of a shipwreck meant to respect puritan values. To explain this sentence, one can give the example of protagonist of the novel, Robinson, who is shipwrecked and struggles to get ashore. He fights with the sea but is not defeated by the natural force, as he is puritan, which characterises a character who has faith, presence of mind sense of self and is courageous, rational full of resources, alt characteristics, help him survive.
The description is narrated through ordinary and concrete words, with long and not-so-complex sentences, a factual and straight to the point language. For instance, when main character Robinson is trying to find naked man’s footprint on the shore, at first his rationality and surviving instinct prevails, however, after he is overwhelmed by fear and anxiety, starts to look everywhere in panic until he reaches the castle. The description of the print is very detailed and precise. Robinson also embodies the feature of the self-made man, who created his fortune relying only on his abilities. He shaped the environment to his will, he built himself a shelter. he made clothes, he domesticated wild animals, he grew his own garden. He also taught the savage Friday many things including English Language, Christian religion, values, and rules of the English society.
The theme of strangers, savages and the unknown seems to be representing the concept of man and nature in Neoclassical period. The examples that I have given above, for example the savage Friday, represent the idea of nature in Neoclassical Period. Nature is static, not changing and standard. Man is savage if not being disciplined, so Robinson takes this responsibility to discipline Friday. Moreover, self-made man property of Robinson represent the concept of man in Neoclassical Period, man is limited and ordinary unless a person takes action to become different. Not only these, but also the language used in the novel, straight-to-the-point and clear, which is also one of the properties of Neoclassical Period.
To sum up, Robinson Crusoe, which is written by Daniel Defoe has many qualities to refer to Neoclassical Period. Usage of clear language, mentioned conceptions of nature and man, protagonist’s own qualities can be given as an example and explained thoroughly above. The novel, which is one of the first realistic novels, can be counted as Neoclassical work because of these points that I have mentioned.