The Importance Of Individualism In Treasure Island

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Perceptions of exceptionalism are embedded throughout countless works of literature, encouraging readers to take strides against the institutions holding them back and to develop a stronger sense of individualism. Order and rebellion, and the balance between them, play significant roles in molding exceptional individuals apart from the society that shaped them. The ideal “exceptional individual” is depicted through characters such as Robinson Crusoe in Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe, and Jim Hawkins of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. These characters dare to disobey others, seek greatness, and challenge the suffocating societies they came from. Both Crusoe and Jim manage to defy societal and class expectations and achieve their…show more content…
Individuality is deeply stressed through the character of Jim Hawkins. Though there are moments in which Jim spends time with his family or the pirates and other adults, these moments are punctuated by far more important periods of time when Jim is alone. Jim is alone when he meets Pew who delivers the black spot that sets the story in motion, when he is in the apple barrel and overhears information about the impending mutiny of Long John Silver that allows him to save the rest of the crew, and when he meets Ben Gunn in the woods and learns the directions to the treasure. Because he is alone during these scenes, Jim is forced to take each of the matters into his own hands, fostering his growth into a more mature individual. These scenes are critical to the overall plot, and Jim’s solitude during these times expresses the importance of individuality in the novel as a…show more content…
While Defoe depicts the ideal exceptional individual as one who defies the conventional values of his or her society, Stevenson expands upon that idea by offering it from the perspective of a younger boy. Because he is younger, Jim has a certain level of innocence associated with him. This enables him to stealthily comply with both sides- the said “good guys,” such as Doctor Livesey and the Captain, and the pirates, such as Long John Silver. With this ability, Jim’s youth gives him more freedom that other characters in both novels lack. This freedom allows for Jim to create a wider divide between himself and his elders and create a stronger sense of individualism. Because of this, it is noted that age is not a factor in creating an exceptional individual. Anyone can challenge societal expectations and live life on his/her own terms. Additionally, Jim seems to be using his individualism to benefit not only himself, but to help the others on the ship as well. After hearing Long John Silver’s schemes while in the apple barrel, Jim “understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended on him alone” (Stevenson 56). This shows that Stevenson is expanding on Defoe’s ideas by proving that individualism can not only be beneficial to more than just that one specific individual, but also to others associated with that

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