Who or what is most likely an antagonist in “Robinson Crusoe”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
The most likely antagonist in Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" is Friday's tribe. The tribe is depicted as cannibalistic and aggressive towards Crusoe and Friday, posing a significant threat to their survival. Crusoe even notes, "I knew they never came on shore but to kill and devour me." While Friday's tribe is not necessarily the only antagonist, they are a significant source of conflict in the novel.
Detailed answer:

In "Robinson Crusoe," the most likely antagonist is Friday's tribe, who pose a significant threat to Robinson's survival on the island. Initially, Robinson describes Friday's tribe as "cannibals" who kill and eat their prisoners, making them appear as savages. However, upon meeting Friday, Robinson learns that the tribe is not entirely barbaric and that Friday is, in fact, a gentle and loyal individual. Despite this, the tension between the two groups remains high, and Robinson is always on guard against a potential attack.

One significant incident that highlights the tribe's antagonistic nature occurs when Robinson is taken captive by them. He is stripped and bound while they prepare a fire to cook and eat him. Robinson's quick thinking and ingenuity allow him to escape, but the experience leaves him shaken and terrified. The tribe's threat to Robinson's life is clear, and it is only through his cunning and luck that he avoids being killed.

Throughout the book, Robinson continues to view the tribe with suspicion and fear, despite Friday's assurances that they are not dangerous when treated with respect. This constant conflict between Robinson and Friday's tribe creates a palpable sense of danger and urgency in the novel, which only adds to the already gripping story of Robinson's survival on the island.

In summary, while there are other potential antagonists in "Robinson Crusoe," such as the elements and Robinson's own isolation and despair, the tribe of cannibals that Friday belongs to is the most prominent and significant threat to Robinson's survival and is thus the likely antagonist in the novel.

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