Contextualization (D.D.) Copy

DANIEL DEFOE (1660-1731)


Puritan and Restauration Ages (1625-1702)

  • The Civil War (1642-1651) – Oliver Cromwell’s puritans win and establish the Republic (they abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords);
  • The Restauration- the country returns to monarchy.

The Augustan Age (1702-1776)

  • The two-party political system is established;
  • The American Declaration of Independence (1776) disrupts the British colonial expansion system.


Economic boom and mercantilism;

Puritans banned all forms of entertainment. The Restauration brought things back to normal.

The Industrial Revolution started:

  • small factories
  • mechanization
  • workers lived in workhouses in poor living conditions
  • hospitals were built in towns
  • the rise of the middle class
  • power started to be associated with money.


As Defoe wrote his novels in the latter years of the Augustan Age, his work falls under the principles of Realism (the literary trend that followed the Enlightenment, the main ideology of the Augustan age).

Principles of Realism:

  • normal situations and ordinary characters are described in familiar settings;
  • lower strata of society are emphasized;
  • very little use of metaphors;
  • literature strives to be true to reality and “hold up a mirror to life”.

Realistic novel traits (the novel is the best form of expression for realism, as it describes the world faithfully and doesn’t idealize it):

  • The major theme is the place of the individual in society, the aspiration of the main character for love or social position;
  • Long, dense, with complicated plots;
  • Physical descriptions of characters are realistic;
  • Lots of characters, most of them belong to the middle and lower classes;
  • Attention to descriptive detail;
  • The style gives the reader the impression of actual experience, it seems to render the events accurately, with no subjective intervention.


  • Born in London, later changed his name;
  • Worked as a trader and travelled extensively;
  • Spent time in prison because he wrote pamphlets and essays criticizing political institutions and the Church;
  • Started writing prose late in his literary career and mostly wrote realistic novels presented as travel prose;
  • Other notable works: “Moll Flanders”, “Colonel Jack”.