Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Jim Hawkins, the principal narrator, a bright, courageous boy. His father owns the Admiral Benbow Inn, where Billy Bones hides. In Bones’s sea chest, Jim finds a map of Captain Flint’s buried treasure.
Dr. Livesey, who treats Jim’s dying father and later the wounded mutineers on Treasure Island.
Squire Trelawney, who finances the treasure hunt and outsmarts the pirates.
Captain Smollett, the captain of the expedition’s ship, the Hispaniola.
Captain Bill Bones
Captain Bill Bones, who steals the map and sings, “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest.” He dies of fright when the pirates bring him his death warning.
Black Dog, who discovers Bones’s hiding place and is almost killed in a fight in the inn parlor.
Blind Pew, a deformed pirate who delivers the Black Spot death notice. He is trampled to death by the mounted revenue officers who attack the pirate gang searching for Bill Bones’s sea chest.
Long John Silver
Long John Silver, a one-legged ship’s cook who owns a pet parrot called Captain Flint. He gathers a crew for the Hispaniola, from pirates whom he can control. Once, he saves Jim from their fury. He manages to get back...
(The entire section is 273 words.)
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Themes and Characters
Treasure Island includes a wide range of vivid and memorable characters, drawn with great subtlety and psychological perception. There is a certain moral ambiguity in all of Stevenson's characters, a kind of "Jekyll and Hyde" dual nature: the good characters are often flawed and the villains tempered with positive qualities.
It was about nine miles long and five across, shaped, you might say, like a fat dragon standing up...
This note of ambiguity is evident from the beginning of the story. Mrs. Hawkins risks both her own life and Jim's when she ransacks Billy Bones's sea-chest to collect the old pirate's rent money but wastes valuable time by counting out every coin to ensure that she takes no more than is due her. Squire Trelawney is another example of flawed goodness. Even though he is strictly instructed by Doctor Livesey not to divulge the purpose of the voyage, Trelawney foolishly confides the secret of the treasure map to Long John Silver, risking a mutiny that will endanger all the crew. Trelawney is blind to the blunt honesty of Captain Smollett, while allowing himself to be taken in by Silver's flattery and deception.
Perhaps the greatest moral enigma is the one-legged Long John Silver. The ship's cook on the outward voyage, Silver is a model of good cheer, showing unfailing kindness to Jim and instructing him in the particulars of seamanship. He is a striking figure as he moves about the ship with his crutch and his...
(The entire section is 762 words.)
Mr. Arrow is the first mate on the Hispaniola but not a good one. His weakness is alcohol. He tries to befriend the pirates not so much because he likes them but because he does not know how to separate himself from them and therefore to regulate them. One day, while upon the open seas, he disappears. It is not known if he is thrown overboard or if he falls overboard in a drunken stupor.
Black Dog, whose distinguishing mark is two missing fingers on his left hand, is the first pirate to find Billy Bones. Black Dog fights with Bones and is injured but manages to run away. He is later seen with the blind man Pew who wants to find the treasure map. Later in the story, when Jim Hawkins first meets Long John Silver, Black Dog is sitting in the pub. When Hawkins points him out, Silver denies knowing him. This is Stevenson’s first hint that Long John Silver might not be as honest as he pretends.
Billy Bones appears in the beginning of this story and is the first pirate Jim Hawkins meets. Bones stays at the Hawkins’ inn, the Admiral Benbow, scaring all the villagers with his sea stories and his dictatorial meanness. Bones pays Hawkins to watch for a man with one leg, someone who is obviously searching for Bones. Eventually Bones is discovered by a roving band of pirates, who give him the “black spot,” a pirate sentence of death. Although the pirates do not kill him,...
(The entire section is 1388 words.)