Treasure Island Historical Context Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburg in 1850 He began his literary career by writing simple adventure stories for boy Treasure Island was one of his first novels Robert Louis Stevenson began Treasure Island in 1881, while recovering from tuberculosis in Braemar, Scotland It was Stevenson's first novel The story originated in a treasure map Stevenson drew with his 12-year-old stepson Lloyd, but the map quickly grew into a full-blown world Treasure Island first appeared in installments from 1881 to 1882 in a children's magazine titled Young Folks, but it was not very successful Treasure Island met with much greater success after Stevenson revised and published it as a novel for adults in 1883 Treasure Island is not a historical novel, but a romantic adventure story The location of the island is never given, although it is probably somewhere off the South American coast Stevenson also does not specify the year in which the events of the story take place, but Jim Hawkins, a grown man when he narrates the book, says at the beginning that he is writing "in the year of grace 17--" It is likely that Stevenson was imagining the first half of the 18th century when he wrote Treasure Island, because this era was the golden age of British piracy Thousands of pirate crews, including such colorful and notorious figures as Captain Kidd and Blackbeard, roamed the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Indian Oceans in the late 17th and early 18th centuries Piracy was a major threat to a nation like Great Britain, whose political and economic power was built on its shipping industry It was not until the 1720's and 30's that the British navy was large and powerful enough to reduce significantly the number of pirates preying on merchant vessels By the late 19th century, the golden age of piracy was a distant memory Tales of swashbuckling pirates provided a romantic escape for readers in the rapidly industrializing Britain of the 1880's, where steamships were replacing the sail-powered ships of an earlier era Victorian children’s books were written as moral lessons first, and entertaining stories second, if at all While Treasure Island does have a moral purpose – Jim Hawkins learns about responsibility, courage, and his own resourcefulness – Stevenson was mostly interested in writing an exciting adventure tale The success of Treasure Island introduced fantasy and adventure into the dull world of Victorian children’s literature, and helped inspire other classics such as JM Barrie’s Peter Pan (1904) Stevenson's reputation has sometimes suffered because his best-known work was written for children, but he was highly respected in his lifetime by such important writers as Henry James, and continues to fascinate readers of all ages today In 1888 he went to the South Seas, where he spent the rest of his life, dying in Samoa in 1894 Other important works of Stevenson are : Kidnapped, The Black Arrows, The Master of Balantrae, The wrong box, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Weir of Hermiston and Saint Yves Summary An old, scarred sailor arrives at the Admiral Benbow inn, where young Jim Hawkins works Billy Bones, as the man is known, fills Jim’s ears with stories of the open sea and warns him to be on the lookout for a one-legged man Some of Bones’ former shipmates appear and give him a slip of paper with a black spot on it, terrifying the old man Bones dies of a stroke, and Jim escapes with his treasure map as the other sailors scour the inn Jim takes the map to Dr Livesey, who forms a plan with his friend Squire Trelawney to sail after the treasure, which was buried by the pirate Captain Flint Jim travels to Bristol to meet up with the ship, the Hispaniola In Bristol, he meets the ship’s cook, Long John Silver, a one-legged man who recommended many of the ship’s crew to Trelawney Despite Billy Bones warning about a one-legged man, Jim is won over by Silver’s friendly charm Then, after an uneventful voyage, Jim is on deck one night and overhears Silver plotting a mutiny Soon after, land is sighted, and Jim tells the captain, Livesey, and Trelawney what he’s heard Alarmed, the men plan to split up the crew to improve their odds, and Jim goes ashore with Silver and the others While on the island, Jim sees Silver kill a sailor who won’t join the mutiny and meets Ben Gunn, a marooned sailor who lives on the islandMeanwhile, Dr Livesey, Squire Trelawney, and the others leave the ship and find a stockade on the island, where they settle in for a fight Under Captain Smollett’s command, they weather the pirates’ first attack Jim arrives at the stockade and joins the defenders Long John Silver comes to negotiate with them, but the captain sends him awayThe pirates storm the stockade, and several men are killed and Captain Smollett wounded in a bloody battle The next day, Jim sneaks away with a plan to cut loose the Hispaniola and strand the piratesAfter a dangerous trip, Jim succeeds in freeing the ship He then jumps aboard, where he finds one watchman dead and the other drunk and wounded Jim and the wounded pirate team up to steer the ship; then the pirate turns on Jim, but Jim kills the pirate in the ensuing fight After anchoring the ship in a new place to fool the pirates, Jim returns to the stockade, where he is captured by Silver’s men Silver tells Jim that Dr Livesey and the others agreed to give the pirates the stockade and the treasure map(Dr Livesey did this because he discovered that Ben Gunn had already dug up the treasure) Silver lets Jim live when Jim promises to testify for him if the mutineers are caught Silver’s men are losing confidence in him, and Silver’s treatment of Jim makes them suspicious The pirates set out to look for the treasure, but find only an empty hole When they turn on Silver and Jim, Dr Livesey, Ben Gunn, and another loyal man ambush the pirates and drive them off They rejoin the captain and Squire Trelawney, who are waiting with the treasure They sail back to England, but Silver escapes when they land in South America Main Characters § Jim Hawkins The narrator of most of Treasure Island, Jim is never described directly He is probably in his early teens, much smaller than the burly pirates of the Hispaniola – though must be very athletic and agile to hold his own against them Jim is fiercely loyal, brave, and adventurous He is also very curious and has a bit of a mischievous streak These traits frequently get him in trouble, but also put him in a position to help Captain Smollett, Dr Livesey, and Squire Trelawney find the treasure and get home safely Jim is the only son of innkeepers on the English coast He works at their inn, the Admiral Benbow, until Billy Bones arrives, bringing trouble and adventure with him Jim’s father dies shortly before this, and Jim seems to be searching for a father figure throughout Treasure Island: he reveres Dr Livesey and also adores Silver until the pirate proves deceitful When the pirates come looking for Billy Bones, Bones dies of a stroke and Jim flees with Captain Flint’s treasure map Jim joins Dr Livesey and Squire Trelawney on a mission to find the treasure Jim waits at Trelawney’s house while the ship and crew are found, then rides to Dover to join them Jim nearly exposes Silver’s plot when he runs into Black Dog, one of the pirates who was chasing Bones, at Silver’s tavern But Silver persuades Jim it’s just a coincidence and the Hispaniola sets sail without incident Jim is again in the center of the action when, just before arriving at Skeleton Island, he overhears Silver and some other men plotting a mutiny Jim tells the captain, Livesey, and Trelawney what he’s heard, then sneaks off to the island to spy on the pirates While on the island, Jim witnesses a Silver murdering a sailor and meets Ben Gunn, a marooned sailor who lives on the island Jim hears gunshots and stumbles across the stockade where the other loyal men are holed up Rejoining his friends, Jim helps them fight off an attack by Silver’s men Jim grows restless in the stockade and sneaks away with a plan to row out to the Hispaniola and cut its anchor-rope, leaving the pirates stranded Having executed his mission, Jim jumps aboard the ship, where he finds two pirates, one dead and the other, Israel Hands, wounded Jim and Hands team up to steer the ship back to shore, but Hands attacks Jim, who kills him Returning to land, Jim is taken prisoner by Silver and his men, who are occupying the stockade; thinking his friends dead, Jim nearly gives up hope He is cheered up when DrLivesey comes to treat the wounded pirates Jim is stung by Livesey’s scolding, but his hope is renewed Silver, Jim, and the other pirates head into the woods with the treasure map Jim knows that he is only alive as insurance for Silver, who might turn on him at any moment As they walk through the woods, the pirates are frightened by a voice pretending to be Captain Flint’s ghost When they arrive at the location of the treasure, they find only an empty hole As the furious pirates begin to turn on Silver (and Jim, who is tied to him), Livesey and his companions open fire from the bushes and rout the pirates Jim rejoins the others, who have joined forces with Ben Gunn and secured the treasure After days spent loading the treasure on the ship, they sail for England, where Jim lives prosperously until many years later, when he records his story § Dr Livesey Dr Livesey is the physician of the town nearest the Admiral Benbow He is a neat, well-groomed man with bright black eyes and a well-powdered wig At one time, Livesey served in the army and he still maintains the military virtues of courage, loyalty, and efficiency He is very insistent on good manners and respectful behavior, and seems personally offended by the pirates’ slovenly habits and coarse manners Dr Livesey is always calm in crisis situations and fights bravely against the pirates Although he does not show much emotion, the doctor is very fond of Jim Hawkins, which is evident in the three chapters he narrates Dr Livesey’s first appearance is his argument with Billy Bones at the Admiral Benbow, when he calmly refuses to back down to Bones’ swaggering threats Livesey is called upon to treat Bones after his stroke, and cares for the old sailor impartially When Jim flees the inn with Bones’ treasure map, he asks to be taken to Dr Livesey After hearing Jim’s story, Livesey takes him to meet his old friend, Squire Trelawney Together the men make a plan to outfit a ship and sail after Flint’s treasure Knowing his friend’s tendency to blab, Livesey makes Trelawney promise not to reveal the goal of the mission While Trelawney goes to Dover to outfit the ship, Dr Livesey settles his affairs and finds a doctor from London to replace him When Jim reports the planned mutiny, Livesey, along with Trelawney and the captain, plan to split up the mutineers by allowing some of them to row to the island When they realize that Jim has gone with the pirates, Livesey and the others decide to take a boat and scout the island Livesey finds the abandoned stockade and supervises the transfer of food and equipment from the Hispaniola to the island Dr Livesey helps defend the stockade against the pirates, then tends the wounded defenders While Jim is off trying to cut loose the Hispaniola, Dr Livesey and the others negotiate a truce with the pirates They let the pirates have the stockade and some provisions, and Dr Livesey agrees to treat the sick and wounded pirates; he also gives Silver the treasure map When Jim returns from his adventure and is captured by Silver, Livesey is very relieved to find him alive and tries to persuade Jim to escape with him Jim refuses, so Livesey warns Silver to keep Jim close to him and look out for trouble when they find the treasure DrLivesey then goes to lay an ambush for the disappointed pirates with Ben Gunn and Abraham GrayReunited with Jim, Livesey and the others keep a close eye on Silver as they retrieve the treasure and return to the ship § Long John Silver Silver is the most mysterious and probably the most interesting of the characters He is tall, powerful man, with light hair and a cheerful, intelligent face Silver is missing his left leg and uses a crutch to get around; however, he is very quick and nimble, almost as capable as a two-legged man Silver keeps a parrot, named Cap’n Flint, on his shoulder much of the time, and is full of colorful nautical tales and terminology Silver's open, cheerful exterior hides the soul of a crafty manipulator; Silver plans the mutiny from the very beginning, convincing even the suspicious Captain Smollett of his trustworthiness Long John Silver served under Captain Flint, the pirate who won the huge treasure and buried it on Skeleton Island When Squire Trelawney arrives in Bristol, blabbing about a mission to find Flint's treasure, Silver signs on as cook and carefully stocks the crew with his fellow pirates Once the Hispaniola is at sea, Silver begins trying to turn the rest of the crew to his side; just before land is sighted, Jim overhears Silver talking to another crewman about the glory of the pirate life Silver takes part of the crew, some loyal and some mutineers, to the island As they pirates celebrate drunkenly, Silver kills Tom, a crewman who won't join them, before Jim's eyes Shortly afterwards, the pirates begin fighting openly with the captain and his men, who have moved to the stockade on Skeleton Island After an exchange of gunfire, Silver come to try to negotiate with the loyal men; when Captain Smollett refuses his terms, Silver leads a charge on the stockade in which several men are killed and the captain wounded While Jim Hawkins is off on his boat adventure, Silver negotiates a truce with Dr Livesey and the others: in return for safe passage to the other side of the island, the pirates take over the stockade and receive supplies and daily visits from Dr Livesey, as well as the treasure map When Jim returns to the stockade, Silver captures him, but prevents his men from killing Jim Silver is careful to keep Jim alive as insurance against his hanging should the pirates be captured; however, Silver's men begin to suspect that he's playing a double game, and tensions mount After Dr Livesey's visit, Silver leads his men and Jim into the woods to find the treasure Driving them on in spite of their fear of Flint's ghost, Silver arrives at the empty hole where the treasure would be Silver quickly assesses the situation and gives Jim a pistol; Livesey launches his ambush, and Silver and Jim are saved Trelawney, Smollett and the others are suspicious of Silver, but allow him to join them; he escapes with a bag of gold when they land in South America and is never seen again § Ben Gunn A member of Flint's crew with Long John Silver (of whom he is still terrified), Ben Gunn was marooned on Skeleton Island three years later, when another ship he was on landed there to look for Flint's treasureWhen Jim Hawkins meets up with Ben, he is sunburned and dressed in a ragged patchwork of scraps from the ship's supplies Ben's sanity has been shaken by his years of isolation, and his behavior is somewhat dazed and childish, but he is still an able comrade for the loyal men Ben Gunn is a minor character, but important to the action of Treasure Island in several ways Ben meets up with Jim in the woods when the boy is running from the pirates Ben quickly befriends Jim and agrees to help him fight off Silver and his men Ben tells Jim about his little homemade boat and arranges to meet one of the captain's party later From Silver's words at the truce meeting, Jim deduces than Ben Gunn killed one of the pirates that night Dr Livesey then goes off into the woods to find Ben, where he discovers (although the reader doesn't find this out until the end) that Ben has found Flint's treasure Ben next appears when Silver's men are hunting for the treasure; he mimics Captain Flint's voice, terrifying the superstitious pirates until they realize it is his voice Ben also takes part in the ambush at the empty treasure hole § Squire Trelawney Squire Trelawney is a wealthy landowner and a friend of Dr Livesey He is over six feet tall, powerful, and energetic He is quick-tempered and enthusiastic, but not very cautious; his lack of discretion alerts Silver that the Hispaniola is sailing after Flint's treasure, and leads directly to the mutiny The squire is a capable sailor and an excellent marksman Trelawney enters the story when Jim Hawkins brings the treasure map to Dr Livesey, who is then visiting the squire Trelawney provides the money and much of the motivation needed to mount the expedition, and it is he who goes to Bristol to find a ship and crew The gullible squire trusts Silver to pick most of his crew for him, and ends up with a crew of pirates Trelawney initially dislikes Captain Smollett, but when Smollett proves to be right about the unreliable crew, Trelawney quickly admits his mistake and puts his trust in the captain Trelawney plays a central role in the battles against the pirates; as the loyal men's best shot, he is often called on to pick off the attacking pirates When Redruth, Trelawney's old gamekeeper, is killed by the pirates, Trelawney weeps and asks his forgiveness When Livesey, Gray, and Ben Gunn go to ambush the pirates at the treasure site, Trelawney and the wounded captain head to the cave where Ben Gunn has stashed the treasure § Captain Smollett Captain Smollett is a sharp, observant man, a tough disciplinarian and an able navigator He is upset from the start at the disrespectful behavior and lax discipline of his crew and warns the squire that no good will come of them While Jim and the others at first think the captain is a harsh, unreasonable man, they soon warm to him when he proves to right about the crew, and Smollett becomes the leader of the loyal men during the battles with the pirates Captain Smollett thrives on discipline; when his men leave their watch posts to listen to him negotiate with Silver, he gives them a stern tongue-lashing The captain's attitude seems to motivate his men, keeping them together even against huge odds When the British flag that he raises above the stockade attracts the pirates' cannon fire, Captain Smollett refuses to take it down When Silver comes to negotiate a truce, Captain Smollett is deliberately disrespectful towards him, making the pirate sit on the ground as they talk When the pirates storm the stockade, Smollett is wounded in the leg and directs the rest of the action from his bed Dr Livesey takes over from the disabled captain, and Smollett disappears until the reunion at the end § Billy Bones The old sailor who appears at the beginning of Treasure Island is called Billy Bones by the other characters, although he insists "that's not my name" when Dr Livesey addresses him as such He is a tall, heavy man with a pigtail, sun-browned skin, and a scar across one cheek Bones arrives at the Admiral Benbow inn and sets the events of the story in motion He is a member of Flint's crew, apparently on the run from the other survivors, who want the treasure map he's taken He is nervous, constantly asking if any sailors have arrived, and warning Jim about a one-legged man Bones is a drunk and a bully; he terrorizes the staff and guest of the inn until Dr Livesey confronts himDespite his unpleasant manners, Bones fascinates Jim Hawkins and some of the other residents of the inn with his colorful stories of life on the sea One day Black Dog, a pirate, appears at the inn, and has a violent argument with Billy Bones, who suffers a stroke afterward When Blind Pew and the other pirates show up to give Bones the "black spot", Bones suffers another stroke and dies When Jim and his mother search Bones' chest for money to pay his bill, they find the treasure map Points to Ponder At first glance, it seems clear who the good and bad guys are in Treasure Island But do Jim and his friends really have any more right to the treasure than Silver and the mutineers? After all, as a member of the pirate crew that originally stole the treasure, Silver has more of a claim to it than do Jim, DrLivesey, or Squire Trelawney Jim steals the treasure map from Billy Bones, who in turn stole it from the rest of Flint’s crew Dr Livesey and Trelawney mount the expedition to Skeleton Island in the hope of making a huge profit from someone else’s property – is their motivation any different from Silver’s? When the treasure is recovered, Ben Gunn, who was like Silver a member of Flint’s crew, is given a much smaller share of the treasure than the others, even though it was he who found it Why is this? Is it fair? Are Jim and his friends “pirates”? Why might Stevenson have chosen to have Dr Livesey narrate three chapters (16-18) in the middle of the book? Jim is separated from his friends at this point, so having Livesey narrate lets the story include things Jim can’t see, but Jim goes off on his own again a few chapters later and the story simply follows him How does Dr Livesey’s “voice” differ from Jim’s? Do any of the characters seem different when described by one narrator as opposed to the other? Does Livesey reveal anything about his feelings about Jim in his writing? Treasure Island is often considered a “coming of age” story, in which the hero makes the transition from boy to man How does Jim Hawkins change over the course of the story? Is Jim considered “a man” at the end of Treasure Island, and if so, what does this suggest about Stevenson’s idea, or Victorian ideas, of manhood? Does killing the pirate Israel Hands have an effect on Jim, and, if so, what? There are many father figures for Jim in Treasure Island – first Billy Bones, later Long John Silver and Dr Livesey How do these men influence Jim? What does Jim learn from Silver?