In Kidnapped, describe how much Stevenson creates a whole world of hipocrisy through his language.

1 Answer | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

This is an unusual question. I've modified the language a little bit to make it more logical. The question assumes Stevenson did "create a whole world of hypocrisy in Kidnapped" though it can be well argued that such is not the case. The reason for this is that Stevenson took great pains to introduce the story as one founded in a life and community of sincerity, honesty, genuine emotions and loving admiration.  In the opening narration and first conversation, between Mr. Campbell and David, Stevenson's language reveals a world of forthrightness and sincerity, the opposite of hypocrisy:

I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, ... out of the door of my father's house. ...
Mr. Campbell, the minister of Essendean, was waiting for me by the garden gate, good man! ... he took my hand in both of his and clapped it kindly under his arm.
"Well, Davie, lad," said he, "I will go with you as far as the ford, to set you on the way."

Yet, having said this, it is true that David's trials and tribulations all come from a man who is as hypocritical as can be, Mr. Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, his uncle. On the one hand, Ebenezer throws distrustful glances at David, then next moment says, ""We'll agree fine yet!" while following that with every gesture of distrust, like locking him into a cold, dark bedchamber: "

"I'm unco feared of fires. Good-night to ye, Davie, my man." And before I had time to add a further protest, he pulled the door to, and I heard him lock me in from the outside.

This early exchange between Uncle and nephew shows how Stevenson's language creates the whole world of hypocrisy that is to ensue in all their dealings. For example, on the one hand, Ebenezer says he will take Davie to his lawyer to make permanent arrangements for David's well fare, while, on the other hand, he has made secret arrangements with the sea captain, Captain Hoseason, to kidnap David and sail away with him to either kill him outright or abandon him.

I don't see how hypocrisy applies to David's adventures with Alan Breck Stewart ("Alan Breck, they call me.") as they visit the Highland chiefs and outrun the British on moonless nights. Yet it is true that Uncle Ebenezer's hypocritical plans permeate all things, at least in the background. With this in mind, it might then be said that the world in which David sojourns is one of hypocrisy, if one carefully delineates the parts of that world that are not representative of hypocrisy.

We’ve answered 318,957 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question