Significant Allusions

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Historical Allusions: Stevenson alludes to several historical pirates to give his novel a greater sense of authenticity.

  • Blackbeard: In chapter 6, Squire Trelawney says that “Blackbeard was a child to Flint.” “Blackbeard” was the nickname of Edward Teach (or Edward Thatch), who maintained a fearsome reputation throughout his piratical career in the early eighteenth century. This comparison characterizes Captain Flint as a more formidable pirate than even the famed Blackbeard.
  • Israel Hands: One of the mutineers is named after Israel Hands, Blackbeard’s second in command. Israel Hands was maimed by Blackbeard, who shot him in the knee with a pistol.
  • Captain William Kidd: The pirate captain William Kidd is referenced on the treasure map, which marks a part of the island as “Capt. Kidd’s Anchorage.” Captain William Kidd was a privateer before he turned to piracy. In 1701, he was hanged in England for his crimes, and stories persisted claiming he had left buried treasure in the Caribbean. Modern-day treasure hunters still speculate over the location—and plausible existence—of Captain Kidd’s treasure.
  • The Parrot, Cap’n Flint: When relating the history of his parrot, Silver says that the bird sailed with Captain Edward England. Captain England was an Irish pirate whose career lasted from 1718 to 1720, when he was marooned by his crew. Silver also claims the parrot was present for the salvaging of the “wrecked plate ships,” referring to the wreckage of a Spanish fleet carrying treasure from Cuba to Spain. Hurricanes destroyed Spanish treasure fleets off the coast of Florida in 1715 and 1733. The commission of privateers to raid salvaged treasure from the 1715 fleet—and the resulting conflict between the Spanish governor of Havana and the English governor of Jamaica—has been credited for the proliferation of piracy in the Bahamas.

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