|Robinson Crusoe character|
Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday by Carl Offterdinger
|First appearance||Robinson Crusoe|
|Last appearance||The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe|
|Created by||Daniel Defoe|
|Portrayed by||William Takaku|
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".
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 helps 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 that 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," but his master Godfrey prefers to keep the original name.
The term Man Friday has become an idiom, still in mainstream usage, to describe an especially faithful servant or one's best servant or right-hand man. The female equivalent is Girl Friday. 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.
He was a comely, handsome fellow, perfectly well made, with straight, strong limbs, not too large; tall, and well-shaped; and, as I reckon, about twenty-six years of age. He had a very good countenance, not a fierce and surly aspect, but seemed to have something very manly in his face; and yet he had all the sweetness and softness of a European in his countenance, too, especially when he smiled. His hair was long and black, not curled like wool; his forehead very high and large; and a great vivacity and sparkling sharpness in his eyes. The colour of his skin was not quite black, but very tawny; and yet not an ugly, yellow, nauseous tawny, as the Brazilians and Virginians, and other natives of America are, but of a bright kind of a dun olive-colour, that had in it something very agreeable, though not very easy to describe. His face was round and plump; his nose small, not flat, like the negroes; a very good mouth, thin lips, and his fine teeth well set, and as white as ivory.