The Continuation of the Castaway


Unknown. Robison Crusoe . N.d. The Footprint in the Sand, Photo. Look and Learn . Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

          Robinson Crusoe is one of the most adapted stories in history.  The original novel itself was based upon a true story of a Scottish sailor who was deserted on an island for four years. Although Defoe’s novel does have the same general foundation from this story, Robinson Crusoe is much more exaggerated.  Since the actual story, there have been over seventeen film adaptations; there have been TV series formed, and more books written on the same subject (IMBD). After the book was published there also was a genre called “Robinsonade” which inspired many explorer and desert island stories (Dictionary). There is even man who is trying to pass as a modern day Robinson Crusoe on the National Geographic TV Channel in a series called The Wild Chronicles (National Geographic). One of the more modern and well known adaptions comes from a 2001 film titled Cast Away.

Cast Away is a movie in which the main story plot is about a man named Chuck who gets in a plane crash while delivering Fed Ex packages and finds himself stranded on a desert island. Chuck lives on the island for four years and then leaves the island on a raft that he built and eventually gets picked up by a ship after being in the ocean for many days. This movie relates to Robinson Crusoe in many ways but also has a modern day spin on many of the aspects. In Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe is trying to get out on his own and experience the world and the people he leaves behind are his parents. Chuck in Cast Away is forced to go on his business trip and is reluctant to leave his lover Kelly. This new spin on the story relates well to people of the 20th century where love is the center of many bestselling movies. Although people still relate to defying parents and wanting to start their own life, love creates a stronger emotional tie to the audience.

Despite this difference, there are many similar qualities within Robinson Crusoe the novel and Cast Away the film. One of the most interesting adaptations is through the companions that both of the lone survivors turn to. Crusoe has a couple of different companions but it seems that the one he is the fondest of is a parrot that he names Poll. Defoe rights, “…Poll as if he had been my Favourite, was the only Person permitted to talk to me” (Defoe, p.108). Chuck on the other hand, finds his companionship within a volleyball who he names Wilson. When leaving the island, Chuck loses Wilson when a whale spout disrupts his escape from the island.  Chuck is heartbroken over his loss. This adaptation shows how the times have changed in society and how people in this century rely more heavily on inanimate objects and even feel closer to things  rather than something that can actually move and breathe.

There are some contextual differences between the two movies and even more similarities but these both lead to the question of, what makes Robinson Crusoe a novel that has been adapted for almost three hundred years. There is the theme of hard work, of perseverance, and of colonization but looking through all of the different adaptations; there is always one theme that remains intact, the theme of self- discovery. In the first novel the biggest sign of this is when Crusoe begins his religious self- discovery. He has had no real relationship with God and really has wanted nothing to do with him until he gets stranded on this desert island. There is a point of tension within the novel where it seems as though Crusoe is close to death. He is not able to do much but to sip on tobacco and rum as medicine. During this time he turns to the scriptures for the first time in a long time and his outlook on life completely changes. Crusoe says, “My condition began now to be, tho’ not less miserable as to my Way of living, yet much easier to my Mind; and my Thoughts being directed by a constant reading the Scripture, and praying to God, to things of a higher Nature” (Defoe, p.71). Throughout the rest of the novel Crusoe is thankful for God rescuing him and providing for him and has a hope. He has discovered his purpose and his worth.  Cast Away also has a similar view of finding yourself within Providence. On the one FedEx package that is with Chuck on the island that he does not open is drawn a box of wings. The wings seem to symbolize some type of help from above that will one day help him to fly away from that island. Then at the end of the film Chuck meets the woman when he is trying to decide where to go and sees that she also has wings on her truck which ties back into the box that helped him to discover who he really was. Now, in his moment of deciding he again is reminded to lift his eyes to what is higher. Both the original and the modern day adaptation revolve around self-discovery, or even more so discovering that there is something bigger than oneself. This theme is something which continues on through each adaptation because even today it is a question which people find themselves asking again and again.

Through many different adaptations of Robinson Crusoe it is easy to see that the meaningful and thought-provoking story is one that will continue to live on for many years to come.

“Boyd Matson’s Wild Chronicles.” – National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <;.

Cast away. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Perf. Tom Hanks. Twentieth Century Fox, 2001. DVD.

Defoe, Daniel, and Michael Shinagel. Robinson Crusoe: an authoritative text, contexts, criticism. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1994. Print.

“Robinson Crusoe.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <;.

“robinsonade.”, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <

Unknown. Robison Crusoe . N.d. The Footprint in the Sand, Photo. Look and Learn . Web. 23 Feb. 2014.