Treasure Island Themes


There is much made of the concept of honor in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. Whether it is the honor of gentlemen or the honor of thieves and pirates, this concept is interwoven throughout the story. Even though the pirates in this story steal other people’s fortunes, killing many sailors and villagers in the process, they have a code of conduct and are expected to obey that code or lose honor among their peers. For example, when Long John Silver protects young Hawkins, Silver’s mates grow suspicious of him. They believe Silver might be in cahoots with Dr. Livesey or Captain Smollet. If this is true, then Silver is a traitor and has committed an act that is contrary to the pirates’ code. Likewise, there is a bond of honor between Hawkins and Silver. Hawkins gives his word to the old pirate that he will not run away once Silver holds Hawkins hostage. Silver later praises Hawkins for keeping his word. Dr. Livesey is also an honorable man. He is particularly honorable in reference to his vocation. He cares for the wounds of the pirates despite the fact that the pirates have tried to kill him.

This story was written for one of Stevenson’s stepsons. So its targeted audience is young. Stevenson wanted to give the young boy something exciting to read; thus this tale filled with high adventure and thrilling challenges in each chapter was born. Throughout the story, the young narrator bears the threats of seafarers like Billy Bones and Long John Silver. At other times he is sneaking around Billy Bones’ bedroom to retrieve the treasure map or going against the orders of the ship’s captain and devising daring plans of his own. Hawkins has led a simple life before this story begins. But suddenly he finds himself sailing across an ocean in search of treasure and having to defend himself. He faces mutiny,...

(The entire section is 771 words.)