Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 724
The Mutiny on the Bounty contains numerous characters. Below are brief descriptions of some of the more important or influential figures in the novel.
Roger Byam is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. He is loosely based on the historical figure of Peter Heywood. Roger joins the Bounty as a midshipman at age seventeen with the task of compiling a dictionary of Polynesian dialects. Although he and Christian Fletcher form a close and trusting relationship, Roger is not an active participant in the mutiny. After the mutiny, he settles on Tahiti and does his best to integrate himself into the local community. Upon the arrival of the Pandora, he is captured, charged with mutiny, sentenced to death, and eventually pardoned.
Captian William Bligh is the no nonsense captain of The Bounty. He is a by-the-book captain who is quick to discipline his sailors in the name of keeping an orderly ship. An irascible man by nature, he is prone to fits of anger that do little to endear him to his crew. He values his mission above all else, which leads him to cut his sailors' rations when food and water are running low. In spite of his less than ideal methods of leadership, Captain Bligh is an exceptional seaman and navigator.
Flethcher Chistian is the ringleader of the mutiny. A gentleman and an officer, he is the ship's first mate and is well-respected by most of the crew. As a man of honesty and integrity, he chaffs under the common of Captain Bligh. When he is falsely accused by Bligh of theft, he decides enough is enough and takes command of the ship.
John Norton, the Bounty's quartermaster, is a reasonable and accommodating man. While he is sympathetic to the plight of his fellow sailors and feels that Bligh can be too heavy-handed, he remains a loyal officer and insists on accompanying his captain after the mutiny.
David Nelson is the ship's botanist and is in charge of collecting and caring for the breadfruit tree saplings that are the very reason for the ship's voyage. When he informs Captain Bligh that the saplings need more water if they are to survive the journey to the West Indies, the captain decides to use the crew's water ration to water the plants, thus leading them closer to mutiny.
Thomas Huggan, the ship's doctor, is well liked by the crew for his concern for their well-being and his sense of humor. While prone to alcoholism, he maintains a high standard of treatment for his crew.
John Fryer, the ship's master, is loyal to King and Country, despite his contempt of Captain Bligh. Therefore, he does not participate in the mutiny and would likely attempt to retake the ship. Consequently, Fletcher is quick to put him in the launch with the captain after he takes command of The Bounty.
Robert Tinkler, one of the midshipmen, is a good friend of Byam on board the ship. He receives the wrath of Captain Bligh after he is caught awake after it was ordered that all men be in their berths. His testimony is crucial in aquitting Byam at the court marshal.
William Purcell, the very unlikable ship's carpenter, hates Captain Bligh as much as anyone on board The Bounty. The two get into many disagreements, but Purcell is loyal in the end. Even though he has no love for his captain, he insists on accompanying Bligh as he feels that keeping the company of mutineers is far worse.
John Hallet is a midshipman who falsely implicates Byam...
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as a participant in the mutiny.
Tehani is the daughter of a Tahitian chief. After the mutiny she becomes Byam's wife.
Captain Edward, the captain of the doomed Pandora is tasked with bringing the mutineers back to England for trial. He is as inflexible as he is cruel and seems to take pleasure in making the transport of his prisoners as unpleasant as he can.
Captain Montague is the captain of The Hector, the prison ship that Byam and his comrades are kept on during their court-marshal. Even though he has no love of mutineers, he endeavors to treat his prisoners humanely throughout their time aboard his ship.
Mr. Graham is Byam's lawyer during the court-marshal. He is dedicated and understanding and is convinced of his client's innocence from the start.