Essay PreviewMore ↓
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a tale of adventure filled with exciting characters and set in exotic locales. This paper will present background information on both the novel and its author and analyze and discuss the major characters, themes and motifs. Stevenson was born the only child of a prosperous middle-class family in Edinburgh, Scotland, in November 1850. His father, Thomas, was a civil engineer who specialized in the design and construction of lighthouses. His mother, Margaret, was the daughter of a well-known clergyman (Livesey). Probably the two most important influences during Stevenson’s childhood were his family’s strict Presbyterian religion and his own poor health. During his frequent bouts with tuberculosis, his loving nurse, Alison Cunningham, liked to entertain him with stories of bloody deeds, hellfire, and damnation. This rendered him a frightened, guilt-ridden child and also apparently something of a little prude, a characteristic he certainly outgrew by the time he reached his late teens (Harvey).
Stevenson found the inspiration to write Treasure Island after drawing a treasure map with his twelve-year-old son, Lloyd (Sandison). Written as a memoir, the work opens with the line “Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-, and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow Inn, and the brown old Seamen, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof” (Stevenson 10). This opening befits Stevenson who had a “devotion to the art of letters and to the less sophisticated, though not necessarily childish, life of adventure” (Kiely 20). Stevenson would later reveal that the first fifteen chapters of Treasure Island were written in as many days (Swinnerton 64).
The main character of the story, a boy by the name of Jim Hawkins serves as the first-person narrator. The son of an innkeeper, Jim begins the tale with the arrival of a salty old ex-pirate to his family’s inn, the Admiral Benbow Inn. Jim is portrayed as very humble, never boasting about his many exciting and impressive deeds.
How to Cite this Page
"An Analysis Of Treasure Island." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Jul 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Treasure Island: An Analysis Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a tale of adventure filled with exciting characters and set in exotic locales. This paper will present background information on both the novel and its author and analyze and discuss the major characters, themes and motifs. Stevenson was born the only child of a prosperous middle-class family in Edinburgh, Scotland, in November 1850. His father, Thomas, was a civil engineer who specialized in the design and construction of lighthouses.... [tags: Robert Luis Stevenson]
1821 words (5.2 pages)
- Treasure Island and Hard Times are novels in which, the effects of human influence are taken to their limit. These novels explore the terrors of two protagonists constantly being bombarded with thoughts and ideas of others. Because of the strong authority placed around them, they are exiled into their own minds. Yet, these characters still demonstrate the willingness to think on their own and express themselves freely. Stevenson and Dickens depict through their characters that the innate human ability to think and act is a product that can be influenced by all individuals one may come across.... [tags: Character Analysis, Stevenson, Dickens]
1498 words (4.3 pages)
- The dictionary definition of courage is bravery or boldness. In the set texts of Little Women and Treasure Island, courage is defined through the interaction of the characters, the situation and their reactions to it. Thus, there are different aspects of courage explored throughout the texts resulting in either in physical or psychological pain or a mixture to the characters. In this essay, I will analysis the method that each author employs to inform the reader of courage, discuss some aspects of courage explored in the texts and look at how courage differs between the genders.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
1896 words (5.4 pages)
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is not a book with a particular message, rather a simple and pure adventurous tale of a young man seeking treasure and himself. In Themes in Treasure Island by Gary Carey, he explains that folktales are of young men or women who leave their lives behind to seek fortune, such as “the myth of Jason embarking to bring home the dragon-guarded Golden Fleece, Odysseus on his hazardous journey back to Ithaca from Troy, and the medieval romance of Perceval seeking the Grail.” Carey believes all these stories, myths, and tales have one central theme -- it is an adventurous quest.... [tags: Adventurous Quest, Book Analysis]
1056 words (3 pages)
- “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum” (Stevenson 230). A desperate attempt to a filthy amount of wealth is made by a crew of men upon the ship, Hispaniola. In the search for treasure Jim finds trust in the one man he should be avoiding. This struggling yet exciting adventure that Robert Louis Stevenson portrays will pull you into the journey for wealth along with the crew. Treasure Island explains archetypes such as life or death, Jim’s rite of passage, the irony of the knife, the island as a lonely place, and the character analysis of Long John Silver and Robert Louis Stevenson.... [tags: Literary Review ]
1306 words (3.7 pages)
- The near-catastrophic partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979, and the national response to this event, partly due to misinformation and inaccurate news reporting, all but shut down future growth within the US nuclear industry for decades, drastically changing the horizon for nuclear technology within the United States. Failed communication reverberated throughout this incident, but the most unfortunate failure was between correspondence between an engineer and fellow managers at the manufacturer of the system that ultimately caused the meltdown.... [tags: Nuclear power, Three Mile Island accident]
1240 words (3.5 pages)
- In The Repeating Island, Antonio Benintez-Rojo writes on postindustrial societies inaccurate views of the Caribbean as a common archipelago and calls on postindustrial societies to reexamine their view of the Caribbean. In this paper the following topics in The Repeating Island will be examined in validating Benitez- Rojo’s perspective that the Caribbean is a meta-archipleago with no boundaries or center: Columbus’s machine to the sugar-making machine, the apocalypse to chaos, rhythm to polyrhythm, and literature to carnival.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Benintez-Rojo]
809 words (2.3 pages)
- Long John Silver is one of the best characters in Treasure Island. He is everything anyone would imagine a pirate would be; he is sly, cunning, and peg-legged with a parot on his shoulder. Long John Silver sets the trademark cliche of the classic pirateband tuat is why a lot of other popular pirates are based on his characteristics. Long John Silver is a lot like an older and wiser version of Jim Hawkins, they share a lot of the same qualities. They are both brave, well-spoken, very practical and both are quick to change sides if need be.... [tags: sly, cunning, pre-legged, pirate, persuasive]
560 words (1.6 pages)
- In Robert Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Jim, the protagonist, tried to get Captain Flint’s legendary treasure while fighting the lying and deceitful pirates. Robert Louis Stevenson used suspense, imagery, and foreshadowing as part of his craft to tell the story of Treasure Island. Each literary technique had a significant impact on the plot and characters. One example of author’s craft in Treasure Island is suspense. One way suspense is used is leaving cliffhangers at the ends of many of the chapters, making the reader want to continue.... [tags: robert stevenson, treasure island, suspense]
559 words (1.6 pages)
- Treasure Island Treasure Island is an epic adventure: a tale of pirates, treasure, and exploration of an unknown and mysterious island. Throughout the course of the book, many lessons are learned that give the reader advice so he/she can better survive in the real world. The literal Treasure Island itself represents the world in which we live, a world with many hazards and scattered rewards to be found. The bookís most important lesson to be learned though, is that a solid command of the language and knowing when to use it can make life much easier for a person. Although this story takes place centuries before our time now, this useful lesson found in it can still... [tags: Treasure Island Essays]
774 words (2.2 pages)
In the first few chapters, Jim is an easily frightened boy who is closely associated with home and family. Scared by the crusty old seaman Pew, Jim relies on his mother for protection. After his father dies, he embarks on a series of adventures and starts to think for himself which shows increasing initiative. Although Jim makes repeated mistakes, he learns from them, which demonstrates that he is maturing. He grows up quickly during the trip, starting out as the cabin boy and eventually naming himself captain after he reclaims the ship from the pirates. Although he is courageous, Jim’s individualism reminds us that he is still young.
The second most important character in Treasure Island is Captain Long John Silver. Silver is a very complex character and self-contradictory. He is cunning and mendacious, hiding his true intentions from Squire Trelawney while posing as the ship’s genial cook. He is very disloyal, shifting sides so frequently that the reader cannot be sure of his true affiliations. He is greedy and has an almost animal nature caring little about human relations, as illustrated by his cold-blooded murder of Tom Redruth.
Nonetheless, Silver is without question the most vital and charismatic character in the novel. Though lacking a leg, he moves swiftly and powerfully across unsteady decks and hoists himself over fences. His physical defect actually showcases his strength of character, as every step reveals his ability to overcome obstacles. Silver’s mental resolve is impressive: he is the only one of the pirates not to be spooked by Ben Gunn’s imitation of the dead Flint’s voice. He remains rational when faced with his men’s superstitions, driving them on to the treasure site. He demonstrates obvious leadership abilities, as he maintains control of his ragged and surly band of mutineers to the very end of their search despite heavy losses and suspicions of treachery. Some who have analyzed the book believe that Silver’s actions may have had a positive impact on Jim’s character, despite the negative effect he had on the story (Scott).
Doctor Livesey is another major character in Treasure Island. Dr. Livesey at first appears as an ideal authority figure for the young Jim. Jim entrusts the treasure map to Livesey because he is a respected and knowledgeable man. As the adventure unfolds Livesey’s actions suggest that Jim’s respect is merited, proving himself competent, clever, fair, and loyal. Livesey devises the brilliant plan of stalling the pirate brigade by sending Ben Gunn ahead to perform spooky imitations of their dead leader, Flint. He also concocts the ruse of sending the pirates on a wild-goose chase to find the treasure. Livesey is not afraid of confrontation and bravely fires upon the pirates at the treasure site. He is noble in his willingness to provide medical attention to the wounded pirates even though they are his enemies. He speaks kindly to them and seems to genuinely care for their health. More so than the Captain Smollett or Squire Trelawney, Livesey represents the best of the civilized world of men.
Despite his and valuable achievements, Livesey is simply not charismatic. He does what is reasonable, practical, and ethical, but never acts spontaneously as do the pirates and Jim. Livesey devises ingenious plans, but only puts them into practice if they are safe and efficient. On the whole, Livesey never risks anything and, therefore, Jim views him as good but not great. It is significant that while Jim gives a sentimental farewell to the memory of Silver at the end of his narrative, he omits mention of Livesey despite his importance in story. While Jim does not fit completely into Silver’s world, he does not fit into Livesey’s steady, practical world either.
The most obvious theme in Treasure Island is Jim’s search for a heroic role model. At the start of the novel Jim is a timid child, but by the end he has matured incredibly. He has outsmarted pirates, taken over a ship, and saved countless lives. Jim has become an adult in character even if his age does not reflect it. Like any maturing boy, Jim tries out various male role models. Jim’s father does not appear to be a significant role model. He passes away early in the novel and, even before his death, does not seem to have much effect on Jim’s life. Jim scarcely mentions his father in his account.
It could be expected that a local authority figure might act as role model for Jim. Dr. Livesey, for example, holds a high social status in the community and represents the rational world. When Jim finds the treasure map, he immediately thinks of Livesey while pondering his next move. Therefore, it initially appears as if Jim looks to Livesey as a heroic role model. Squire Trelawney, like the doctor, is another symbol of worldly authority. However, while both men are upstanding citizens, they do not captivate or inspire Jim. Once the pirates appear, Jim begins to pay close attention to their actions, attitudes, and appearance. His narration describes Silver with intensity and attention to detail. Soon, Jim is imitating some aspects of Silver’s behavior. In Chapter 25, he acts impulsively and bravely when he sneaks onto the pirates’ boat to recapture it (Stevenson 175-180). In Chapter 12, he deserts his own captain to explore on his own. He sails a pirate’s boat out to the anchored ship, kills the pirate Israel Hands, and names himself the new captain (Stevenson 149-154). Jim’s pirate side of is so apparent that Silver himself remarks that he reminds him of himself as a boy.
Throughout the book, Jim looks up to each of the key characters described in this paper and acts differently with every one. He never truly aligns himself to one heroic role model and, instead, learns different skills from each key character.
There are also other reoccurring motifs found in Treasure Island: one of the most apparent being solitude. Throughout the story Jim Hawkins experiences several periods of time on his own. Though Jim spends time with his family at the beginning of the novel and is later in the company of the captain’s men and the pirates, these intervals are punctuated by far more crucial periods where Jim is alone. For example, Jim is alone when he meets Pew, the pirate who delivers the black spot that sets the story in motion. He is alone in the apple barrel when he overhears information about the upcoming mutiny that enables him to save the rest of his party. He is alone when he meets Ben Gunn in the woods and learns the directions to the treasure. Jim is also alone when he sails in the coracle to cut the ship adrift, depriving the pirates of their means of escape. Throughout the novel, Jim’s periods of solitude and the events that occurred while he was on his own contribute significantly to his maturity.
The color black is another motif found in the story. Stevenson repeatedly associates the color black with the pirates. The pirate flag, the Jolly Roger, is black which is in sharp contrast with the colorful British flag, the Union Jack. The pirates also distribute black spots, which means death is imminent. Also, the pirate who discovers Billy in hiding at the Admiral Benbow is named Black Dog.
Treasure Island is one of the most beloved children’s adventure stories ever written. Stevenson’s timeless work has tied generations together and inspired the imaginations of millions. The thorough character analysis and presentation of the themes and motifs summarized in this paper clearly illustrates why.
Harvey, Alexander. "Life of Robert Louis Stevenson." Bartelby. 23 Mar. 2005. 9 Apr. 2008
Kiely, Robert. Robert Louis Stevenson and the Fiction of Adventure. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1964.
Livesey, Margot. "The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson." The Atlantic. Nov. 1994. 9 Apr. 2008
Sandison, Alan. "Robert Louis Stevenson." Books and Writers. 14 Sept. 2004. 9 Apr. 2008
Scott, Patrick, and Roger Mortimer. "Robert Louis Stevenson." Thomas Cooper Library. 19 July 2002. University of South Carolina. 9 Apr. 2008
Stevenson, Robert L. Treasure Island. 1883. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2005.
Swinnerton, Frank. R.L. Stevenson; a Critical Study. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1915.