Friday (Robinson Crusoe)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Robinson Crusoe character
Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday Offterdinger.jpg
Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday Carl Offterdinger
First appearanceRobinson Crusoe
Last appearanceThe Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Created byDaniel Defoe
Portrayed byWilliam Takaku
NationalityNative American

Friday is one of the main characters of Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. Robinson Crusoe names the man Friday, with whom he cannot at first communicate, because they first meet on that day. The character is the source of the expression "Man Friday", used to describe a male personal assistant or servant, especially one who is particularly competent or loyal. Current usage also includes "Girl Friday".

It is possible that a Misquito pirate by the name of Will became the inspiration for the character Friday.


Robinson Crusoe spends twenty-eight years on an island off the coast of Venezuela with his talking parrot Poll, his pet dog, and a tame goat as his only companions. In his twenty-fifth year, he discovers that Carib cannibals occasionally use a desolate beach on the island to kill and eat their captives.

Crusoe observes one of the Caribs, kept captive and about to be eaten, escape his captors. Crusoe ambushes two pursuers, and the others leave in their canoes without knowing what happened to their companions. The escaped captive bows in gratitude to Crusoe, who decides to employ him as a servant. He names him Friday after the weekday upon which the rescue takes place.

Crusoe describes Friday as being a Native American, though very unlike the Indians of Brazil and Virginia. His religion involves the worship of a mountain god named Benamuckee, officiated over by high priests called Oowokakee. Crusoe learned a few of his native words that have been found in a Spanish-Térraba (or Teribe) dictionary, so Friday may have belonged to that tribe, also called the Naso people. Friday is cannibalistic as well and suggests eating the men Crusoe has killed.

Crusoe teaches Friday the English language and converts him to Christianity. He convinces him that cannibalism is wrong. Friday accompanies him in an ambush in which they save Friday's father.

Crusoe returns to England twenty-eight years after being shipwrecked on the island, and four years after rescuing Friday. Friday's father goes with a Spanish castaway to the mainland to retrieve fourteen other Spanish castaways, but Crusoe and Friday depart the island before they return.

Friday accompanies Crusoe home to England, and is his companion in the sequel The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, in which Friday is killed in a sea battle.

In Jules Verne's L'École des Robinsons (1882), the castaways rescue an African man on their island who says his name is Carefinotu. T. Artelett proposes to call him Mercredi ("Wednesday"), "as it is always done in the islands with Robinsons,"[1] but his master Godfrey prefers to keep the original name.

Film and television adaptations[edit]


The term Man Friday has become an idiom, still in mainstream usage[citation needed], to describe an especially faithful servant or one's best servant or right-hand man.[3] The female equivalent is Girl Friday.[4] The July 1, 1912, edition of the news magazine “Industrial World,” Volume 46, Issue 2, published in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, uses the term Girl Friday. The title of the 1940 movie His Girl Friday alludes to it and may have popularised it.


Friday's relationship with Robinson Crusoe has been the subject of academic analysis.[5][6][7][8][9]


  1. ^ L'École des Robinsons, chapter 18, Jules Verne.
  2. ^ "William Takaku". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  3. ^ Safire, William. "William Safire - On Language - Grammar - Usage - English Language". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Definition of GIRL FRIDAY". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  5. ^ Kim, Wook. "Top 10 Literary Sidekicks". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  6. ^ "How Robinson Crusoe Managed His Man Friday". Psychology Today. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Colonial Representation in Robinson Crusoe, Heart of Darkness and A Passage to India" (PDF). Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Postcolonial Problems in Cinematic Adaptations of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe" (PDF). Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  9. ^ Matthew Watson (2018). "Crusoe, Friday and the Raced Market Frame of Orthodox Economics Textbooks" (PDF). New Political Economy. 23:5: 544–559. doi:10.1080/13563467.2017.1417367. Retrieved 27 October 2018.