Robinson Crusoe is a story of one man’s adventure to become his own person, free of inherited wealth and station. He rejects his family’s pleas to stay at home where it is safe and he can have a good education, live comfortably, and be happy. Immediately after departing, Crusoe’s ship falls upon bad weather and he is nearly killed. Crusoe muses that despite his ill fortune, he must press on. It is not without pondering the consequences of his actions, however. He ponders the warnings of his parents and even considers turning around and heading home, but with an unknown sense of self-destruction, he continues his adventure:
But my ill fate pushed me on now with an obstinacy that nothing could resist; and thought I had several times loud calls from my reason and my more composed judgment to go home, yet I had no power to do it. I know not what to call this, nor will I urge that it is a secret overruling decree, that hurries us on to be the instruments of our own destruction, even though it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our eyes open. Certainly, nothing but some such decreed unavoidable misery, which it was impossible for me to escape, could have pushed me forward against the calm reasonings and persuasions of my most retired thoughts, and against two such visible instructions as I had met with in my first attempt.
Each time Crusoe has a near-death experience, he goes through the same process of recovery. He always thinks back to what could have been if he had stayed home, waits a little while for the terror to become a distant memory, and sets out again. It is important to note that Crusoe himself doesn’t understand the motivations for why he continually puts himself in situations where he suffers needlessly. He seems to be thinking soundly, because he states that one part of him urges him to take the easy route, to go home and live how his family intended for him to live, but he has an insatiable urge to press on in his adventure. This insatiable urge must stem from his need to become an independent man and not follow in his family’s footsteps, as evidenced by his original desires to leave home.
An additional point to note is that at one point in his travels, Crusoe ends up owning and maintaining a successful farm. It takes him some time and trouble to get to that point, during which he never complains about the effort that it takes, but once he realizes that most of the hard work is done, he becomes complacent and yearns to move on. He muses about how he could have ended up doing the same thing back home, surrounded by friends and family, but now he doesn’t desire to continue farming forever. He must search out more adventure. At this point, Crusoe’s motivations must have changed. It is no longer enough to “make it on his own”, he must achieve something greater. He is still very much aware of the dangers of venturing out (especially because almost every time he does so, tragedy happens almost immediately), but that is not enough to dissuade him. It is almost as if he needs to struggle, becoming complacent is enough to make him depressed, “I must go
and leave the happy view I had of being a rich and thriving man in my new plantation, only to pursue a rash and immoderate desire of rising faster than the nature of the thing admitted; and thus I cast myself down again into the deepest gulf of human misery that ever man fell into”. It is unclear is Crusoe has delusions of grandeur or if he chooses to take the difficult road as a test of honor or manhood. Either way, at some point Crusoe must develop achievable, concrete goals, or he will succumb to disaster.