I read part of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe for another class a little while back and I couldn’t help but think about it a little bit when reading The Tempest. Granted, the two are vastly different, but they have some notable similarities that suggest that Defoe was perhaps influenced by Shakespeare’s play when he wrote his novel. I don’t remember a lot of details from the chapters that I read, but I do remember colonialism playing a large role. Crusoe had a need to control all the he could on the island and europeanize his living space. Although the play does not go into detail about Prospero’s living space, it does mention that he has been able to salvage and maintain his books (or rather have them salvaged for him by his friend) and he clings onto and values them, perhaps because they partly connect him back to organized, european society. Crusoe took control over and educated the native, Friday. Prospero takes control over and teaches his language to his daughter, Miranda, and his slave, Caliban, the “monster” that presided on the island before Prospero arrived.
There are various elements of either work of literature that differ, however. Like Prospero having the ability to use magic, making his survival on the island easier, and his control over the natural world greater. This is only one of many differences that the works have, but I do feel that it is very likely that Shakespeare influenced Defoe despite their differences.