Question: Discuss the nature of sin, punishment, and repentance as one of the themes of Robinson Crusoe. The Theme of Sin, Punishment, and repentance in Robinson Crusoe
“Robinson Crusoe” by Danial Defoe (1660-1731) focuses on different aspects of Christianity and the protagonist’s beliefs. One of the most important themes in the novel is sin, punishment, and repentance. Crusoe has sinned to disobey his father and mother. He is punished by God through misfortunes on the sea and on a deserted island. He feels extreme sorry for his wrongdoings and in the end, he overcomes his sufferings or afflictions.
The symbolic psychological analysis of the protagonist begins with sin. Robinson’s sins can be counted. We can categorize his sins in the following manner:
Disobedience and obstinacy
Robinson Crusoe was a stubborn boy who wanted to see the whole world through voyages. His father and mother urged him not to go to sea against their desires. But ignoring his parents’ courteous advice, Crusoe escaped from his home without their blessings. Crusoe thought it was his first sin to disobey his parents.
“I consulted neither father nor mother any more, nor so much as sent them word of it; but leaving them to hear of it as they might, without asking God’s blessing or my father’s………”
Violation of oaths:
On his way to London, Crusoe’s ship was about to collapse, and Crusoe became so terrified that he vowed to return home and never set foot on the ship. But as the weather improved and the sea became calm all around, he forgot all his vows just like a drunkard. Upon arriving in London, he thought about returning home but feared that his neighbors would laugh at his failure if they saw him returning from his adventure. So, he changed his mind and was determined to go to sea again.
Crusoe committed the third sin in Brazil where he made his fortune by producing tobacco and sugar. However, he is not satisfied with the middle state of life. He wanted to be very rich overnight which is why he decided to go to sea again for the slave and gold trade.
There is no sin in the world that cannot go without punishment. Robinson Crusoe considered his sufferings as a fitting punishment for his sin. He got his first punishment when his life was in danger after being hit by a turbulent wave sailing for London. Crusoe’s second sentence was to suffer when he became the miserable slave of the pirate captain at Sallee. The third and final punishment was when he was thrown alone on a deserted island. Thus, the author has shown the universal reality of sin and punishment.
Repentance is the result of the meditation and purity of the soul. Robinson Crusoe sinned, was punished, and repented. He disobeyed his parents; he repeatedly vowed and violated again and again; he was proud of his own ego; he was richly greedy. For all these sins he was severely punished. Every time he was in trouble, but he repented of his sin. His guilt broke upon him like a storm. He cried like a baby. He repented that he should not leave his plantation business. He cried in repentance on the wild and deserted island. He felt that his punishment was less in proportion to his sin as he was gifted with everything, he needed for the life around him. So, he felt grateful to God.
“What a table was here spread for me in a wilderness,
where I saw nothing at first but to perish for hunger.”
Thus, Crusoe showed his gratefulness to God. He was happy because he realized that God had allowed him to repent. In this way, a chaotic heart like Robinson Crusoe can be purified and relieved of the sufferings and anguishes.
In a nutshell, we have the moral here that it is natural for a person to sin, but he can be rewarded if he is able to confess and repent of his sin.