After reading the final few chapters of Robinson Crusoe, I could not help but wonder, “Why didn’t he remain on the island?” The shift in Crusoe’s attitude towards his isolation on the island changes as his years there progress, and by the time the captive English ship arrives on the island, Crusoe views the island as his “castle” and cares for the land, shelters, and animals on the island. Before then, Crusoe’s only complaint of his new life on the island was the lack of social relationships he had with others. This absence is filled by Friday, whom Crusoe forms a dominating, but trusting and caring, relationship with. Crusoe is familiar with the island, feels (for the majority of his years) safe there, and learns skills and about himself and his relationship with God. He is also proud of the feeling that the island is his land that he rules over, and he learns to appreciate the island’s beauty.
When Crusoe arrives back in civilization, he is met with emotional distance to those he knew before his shipwreck and hardships, like snow and wild animals, that he did not have to face on the island.
His struggles and general lack of excitement about being back in society made me wonder if he was too changed from his experience on the island to be back in normal society. After considering Crusoe’s transformation on the island, I do not think Crusoe was ill equipped to be back in society. Instead, I think Crusoe only left the island because he had been dreaming of it for 28 years, and having been given the chance to return home, he took it before considering if his new life was actually the one he was meant to lead. This ending suggested to me that it is human nature to follow our natural instincts before considering a change in one’s desires; Crusoe’s natural instincts being to escape the island that isolated him from society, when really the island changes from a prison to a fortress to Crusoe and ends up holding more meaning for him than his life in society.