in the story "the Bottle Imp" what are the stipulations of the one who possesses the bottle?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the short story 'The Bottle Imp' by Robert Louis Stevenson, the author shows several characters who are in needy circumstances and who could  use the help of a magical imp to get them out of a dilemma. The imp has magic powers and can bring money and prosperity for life, however the owner of the bottle must also take it to Hell with him when he dies, unless he has sold it before then. This is a risk as the bottle may not be so easily sold, as many are wary of the scary imp and the danger of not being able to sell it in time.The stipulations that come along woith the bottle are mentioned near the beginninging of the story, where Keawe is stunned (and a little incredulous) that the owner wants to sell such a 'useful' object :

An imp lives in it, and that is the shadow we behold there moving; or so I suppose. If any man buy this bottle the imp is at his command; all that he desires-- love, fame, money, houses like this house, ay, or a city like this city--all are his at the word uttered. Napoleon had this bottle, and by it he grew to be the king of the world; but he sold it a the last, and fell. Captain Cook had this bottle, and by it he found his way to so many islands; but he, too sold it, and was slain upon Hawaii. For, once it is sold, the power goes and the protection; and unless a man remain content with what he has, ill will befall him."

      "And yet you talk of selling it yourself?" Keawe said.

      "I have all I wish, and I am growing elderly," replied the man. "There is one thing the imp cannot do--he cannot prolong life; and, it would not be fair to conceal from you, there is a drawback to the bottle; for if a man die before he sells it, he must burn in hell for ever."

One has to think of everythiing that could go wrong here; the trade-off of having all the riches and fun one desires in life and paying for that by burning in a miserable hell forever, the risks inherent in selling the bottle, having an accident or dying before the bottle is sold, not finding anyone who is prepared to take the risk of losing eternal happiness, losing the bottle or meeting someone else who steals it (which probably wouldn't count.) The bottle becomes more burdensome as life goes on.

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