Daniel Defoe : The Family Instructor

Brooke, Diana. 2016. Daniel Defoe : The Family Instructor. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The focus of this thesis is The Family Instructor by Daniel Defoe. There are two books: Volume I, first published in 1715, and Volume II, published in 1718. In both cases I have used the Pickering and Chatto edition, published in 2006 and edited by P.N. Furbank.

The thesis examines The Family Instructor, in the contexts of family, religion and of its style, to argue that, although usually classed as a conduct book, it is not easily categorised, reflecting as it does Defoe‘s transitional status between ancient and modern times.

The Introduction gives my argument. After the opening chapter, which contains critical remarks on Defoe‘s work, Chapter Two considers The Family Instructor in the context of contemporary representations of the family. The older, patriarchal model is examined. In this the husband/ and father is responsible for the entire household, whereas the modern, ―nuclear‖, version, which is also examined, relies less on status and more on contractual and emotional relationships.

Chapter Three looks at religion, beginning with an overview of the many sects which are significant for an understanding of The Family Instructor. The chapter argues that although Defoe is at times close to the Latitudinarian position and despite his claim that the work is designed to apply both to Anglicans and Dissenters, his overall position is that of a Dissenter.

Chapter Four examines the conduct book genre and goes on to compare the style of The Family Instructor with that of Robinson Crusoe in particular, arguing that the former does not qualify as a ―conduct book‖ and that many of the devices which Defoe uses in his first long narrative are present in The Family Instructor. The Conclusion draws together the arguments of the preceding chapters.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Family, Instructor, Values, Relationships, Religion, Novels, Structure, Style

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 August 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2016 13:57

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:56



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