Robinson Crusoe is an Englishman from the town of York in the seventeenth century, the youngest son of a merchant of German origin. Encouraged by his father to study law, Crusoe expresses his wish to go to sea instead. His family is against Crusoe going out to sea, and his father explains that it is better to seek a modest, secure life for oneself. Initially, Robinson is committed to obeying his father, but he eventually succumbs to temptation and embarks on a ship bound for London with a friend. When a storm causes the near deaths of Crusoe and his friend, the friend is dissuaded from sea travel, but Crusoe still goes on to set himself up as merchant on a ship leaving London. This trip is financially successful, and Crusoe plans another, leaving his early profits in the care of a friendly widow. The second voyage does not prove as fortunate: the ship is seized by Moorish pirates, and Crusoe is enslaved to a potentate in the North African town of Sallee. While on a fishing expedition, he and a slave boy break free and sail down the African coast. A kindly Portuguese captain picks them up, buys the slave boy from Crusoe, and takes Crusoe to Brazil. In Brazil, Crusoe establishes himself as a plantation owner and soon becomes successful. Eager for slave labor and its economic advantages, he embarks on a slave-gathering expedition to West Africa but ends up shipwrecked off of the coast of Trinidad...
Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (full title: The Fortunate Mistress: Or, A History of the Life and Vast Variety of Fortunes of Mademoiselle de Beleau, Afterwards Called the Countess de Wintselsheim, in Germany, Being the Person known by the Name of the Lady Roxana, in the Time of King Charles II) is a 1724 novel by Daniel Defoe. The novel examines the possibility of eighteenth-century women owning their own estate despite a patriarchal society, as with Roxana's celebrated claim that the Marriage Contract is ... nothing but giving up Liberty, Estate, Authority, and everything, to the Man .The novel further draws attention to the incompatibility between sexual freedom and freedom from motherhood: Roxana becomes pregnant many times due to her sexual exploits, and it is one of her children, Susan, who come back to expose her, years later, near the novel's close, helping to precipitate her flight abroad, subsequent loss of wealth, and (ambiguous) repentance. The character of Roxana can be described as a proto-feminist because she carries out her actions of prostitution for her own ends of freedom but before a feminist ideology was fully formed, (though Defoe also works to undercut the radicalism of her position). The book also explores the clash of values between the Restoration court and the middle-class. Roxana also discusses the issues of truth and deceit. As the text is a first-person narration and written to simulate a real first-hand account of a woman, first comes the issue of subjectivity, but also the underlying lie as to the veracity of the text. The reader can only trust in Roxana to give us a true account of her story, but as she often lies to other characters in the book, and even to herself, she is not a reliable narrator. Furthermore, the whole construction of her character is made on lies and disguises. Her name, or names, are not mentioned until the end of the novel, so even the most basic aspect of her identity - her name - is a mystery for the majority of the novel. And the name that is most associated to her: Roxana, is based on a lie and on a disguise, namely the Turkish dress. Published anonymously, and not attributed to Defoe till 1775, Roxana was nonetheless a popular hit in the eighteenth century, frequently reprinted in altered versions to suit the taste of the day: thus the 1775 edition, which called itself The New Roxana, had been sentimentalised to meet the tastes of the day.
The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders tells the story of the fall and eventual redemption of a lone woman in 17th-century England. It purports to be the true account of the life of the eponymous Moll, detailing her exploits from birth until old age. The titular heroine appears as a whore, bigamist, and thief, lives in The Mint, commits adultery and incest, and yet manages to retain the reader's sympathy.
Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own 'wicked' life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is also an unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price she pays for her successes. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. Unlike Defoe's other penitent anti-heroes, however, she fails to triumph over these weaknesses. Roxana's fame lies not only in the heroine's 'vast variety of fortunes', but in her attempts to understand the sometimes bitter lessons of her life as a 'Fortunate Mistress'.
1931. There is no obvious drama in this straightforward narrative. No one could pretend that Roxana reveals either charm or striking personality. The author's art comes from a particular form of realism, in which he stands almost alone. It is built upon absolute simplicity in style, elaborately precise statement of natural detail and a complete absence of emphasis or emotion. We do not judge Roxana for her conduct, but sympathize with her as a woman because Defoe has made her our friend. We believe in her as a real, living, intimate acquaintance who is interesting because her life is crowded with surprising events and fortune treats her with more than its usual caprice.
En 1651, Robinson Crusoé quitte York, en Angleterre, contre la volonté de ses parents qui voulaient qu'il devienne avocat, pour naviguer. Le navire est abordé par des pirates de Salé et Crusoé devient l'esclave d'un Maure. Il parvient à s'échapper sur un bateau portugais qui passe au large de la côte ouest de l'Afrique.
En 1659, alors qu'il a vingt-huit ans, il se joint à une expédition partie à la recherche d'esclaves africains, mais à la suite d'une tempête il est naufragé sur une île à l'embouchure de l'Orénoque au Venezuela. Il fait la découverte d'une grotte et se construit une habitation. Il chasse et cultive le blé. Il apprend à fabriquer de la poterie et élève des chèvres. Il lit la Bible et rien ne lui manque, si ce n'est la compagnie des hommes.