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The major theme in the play is that sin has its retribution, but peace can be found through forgiveness and belief. Crusoe is the prodigal son (like the one presented in the New Testament of the Bible). He runs away to sea against the wishes of his family. A series of disasters happen to him as a sailor, as punishment for his rebellious nature. When Crusoe finally lands in Brazil, he becomes a prosperous planter. Still unsatisfied with his wealth, he again provokes Providence by becoming a slave trader. As punishment, his ship is wrecked in a storm, and he alone escapes to an uninhabited island, where Crusoe undergoes a spiritual regeneration, becoming a Christian and converting Friday to Christianity as well.
After twenty-eight years on the island, he is finally able to escape. The prodigal son returns to England and finds himself very rich due to the ongoing success of his Brazilian plantation. Now, however, Crusoe is mature enough to handle his good fortune in life; he settles down, marries, and becomes generous with both family and friends. His changed soul, no longer rebellious, finds peace.
A minor theme of the novel is the glorification of the imperialist dream. Crusoe is the Englishman who colonizes the island, "civilizes" the native, and protects his colony from enemies. Almost from the beginning of his stay on the island, Crusoe both consciously and unconsciously behaves as an agent of the British Empire.
When the story begins, the mood is sober, with Crusoe's father's almost prophetic words of warning. The mood is somber in the ensuing chapters, as disasters fall one after another on the reckless Crusoe. After his conversion on the island, the spiritual light casts its influence over the story, and the mood becomes more peaceful. There is, however, an underlying spirit of adventure throughout the novel, and the later chapters are replete with violent action.