Robinson Crusoe

The Sea Symbol Icon
From the beginning of the novel, Robinson has an intense desire to go to sea, an urge that stays with him even at the novel's end. Going to sea symbolizes abandoning a life of comfort and ease in search of some greater ambition, whether profit or adventure: the ocean is dangerous, but also holds the promise of immense profit. The sea is also unpredictable and unknowable. As such, it can symbolize the divine forces of providence, to which Robinson surrenders himself. In his various vessels, Robinson's trips are somewhat determined by the capricious waves, currents, and conditions of the sea. And when he is literally thrown into the sea during his shipwreck, his life is completely up to the unpredictable waves that are equally capable of dashing him against the rocks or carrying him safely to shore. Similarly, Robinson's entire fate is up to the capricious "waves" of fortune or providence. Robinson's going to sea is thus representative both of his desire to seek greatness in spite of danger and of his willingness to submit himself to the larger forces of fate and divine providence that determine the course of his life.

The Sea Quotes in Robinson Crusoe

The Robinson Crusoe quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Sea. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Robinson Crusoe published in 2003.
Chapter 1 Quotes

My father, who was very ancient, had given me a competent share of learning, as far as house-education and a country free school generally go, and designed me for the law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but going to sea; and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the will, nay, the commands of my father, and against all the entreaties and persuasions of my mother and other friends, that there seemed to be something fatal in that propensity of nature, tending directly to the life of misery which was to befall me.

Related Characters: Robinson Crusoe (speaker), Crusoe's Parents
Related Symbols: The Sea
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

The ship was no sooner out of the Humber than the wind began to blow and the sea to rise in a most frightful manner; and, as I had never been at sea before, I was most inexpressibly sick in body and terrified in mind. I began now seriously to reflect upon what I had done, and how justly I was overtaken by the judgment of Heaven for my wicked leaving my father's house, and abandoning my duty. All the good counsels of my parents, my father's tears and my mother's entreaties, came now fresh into my mind; and my conscience, which was not yet come to the pitch of hardness to which it has since, reproached me with the contempt of advice, and the breach of my duty to God and my father.

Related Characters: Robinson Crusoe (speaker), Crusoe's Parents
Related Symbols: The Sea
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Sea Symbol Timeline in Robinson Crusoe

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Sea appears in Robinson Crusoe. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Robinson felt a strong desire to go to sea, even though both his parents were against this idea. One day, his father called him... (full context)
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
...home, but, amid tears, warned him that if he joined a boat and went to sea, there would be no one to help him in his troubles and God would not... (full context)
Chapter 2
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
The sea got calmer as the storm died down, and Robinson joined some other sailors in getting... (full context)
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
...back three hundred pounds of gold, which filled him with the desire to return to sea and find more wealth, a desire that would be the ruin of him. (full context)
Chapter 3
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
...fish he had hooked, and told Ismael that they needed to go farther out to sea to catch fish. When they were a ways out at sea, Robinson pushed Ismael overboard.... (full context)
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
...make you a great man," but that, if not, he would throw him into the sea, as well. Xury swore his loyalty to Robinson. Out of fear of being caught, he... (full context)
Chapter 4
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
A humongous wave rose up before them and toppled their boat. Thrown into the violent sea, Robinson tried to hold his breath as waves drove him onto the shore. A wave... (full context)
Chapter 5
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
...the storm was gone. He saw his old ship stranded about a mile out at sea. Along the shore, he saw the wrecked remains of the boat he and the other... (full context)
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
...move his tent there so that he could see if any ships came by at sea. Using parts of the wrecked ship, he built a protective fence around it, though he... (full context)
Chapter 7
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
...prayed, remembering his father's warning that God would not bless him if he went to sea. He lamented that he had neglected God and "rejected the voice of Providence," which has... (full context)
Chapter 12
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
...swept up in the current and feared that he would be driven far out to sea. He says that this showed him "how easy it was for the providence of God... (full context)
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Not wanting to risk the open sea again, Robinson piloted his boat into a river and harbored it in the stream before... (full context)
Chapter 13
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
...calm, without any dangerous currents. Still, he was too scared of being driven out to sea to try to sail his canoe back around to his home. (full context)
Chapter 15
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
...a small livestock pen, and while walking up a hill saw a boat out at sea. When he came down the hill to the shore, he saw skulls and human bones... (full context)
Chapter 18
Society, Individuality, and Isolation Theme Icon
Advice, Mistakes, and Hindsight Theme Icon
...he noticed a powerful current and was worried that he would be driven off to sea, out of sight of his island. (full context)
Chapter 22
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
...Friday's people, where they lived without the provisions or vessel necessary to go back to sea. (full context)
Chapter 26
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
...his two nephews. One he "bred up as a gentleman," and the other went to sea as a sailor. (full context)
Christianity and Divine Providence Theme Icon
Contentment vs. Desire and Ambition Theme Icon
Strangers, Savages, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Though comfortably established in England, Robinson could not help but want to go to sea again. The widow dissuaded him from this for about seven years, during which time Robinson... (full context)