Treasure Island characters help to make this classic book for boys one that has many layers of meaning.
Treasure Island Characters
Storybook characters are integral to the success of the tale. Authors go to great lengths to give them attributes that are realistic, memorable and valuable. Treasure Island characters are no exception.
Jim is roughly 14 years old and he is the narrator of the story. His character is critical because the reader experiences the story through his perception. He begins as an observer, but he gradually becomes intertwined in a magnificent adventure. His transformation is a key element in the subtext. Jim Hawkins is a relatable character who is quite ordinary. Neither special talent nor outstanding skill leads him through his adventures, yet he is able to accomplish amazing things.
Mrs. Hawkins is Jim's mother and she is the only female character in the entire story. Her brief role in the beginning of the novel is of great value because she shows considerable bravery by facing danger when returning to the inn to demand her part of Billy Bones' treasure. Jim mimics this behavior later in the story.
Billy Bones is a pirate who has the special role of being the first pirate Jim encounters. He is a source of excitement on the isolated island, but he is also a sign of danger. He also represents a paternal figure for Jim, a figure that is obscurely mirrored in Long John Silver.
Long John Silver
The lead pirate, Long John Silver, is perhaps the most recognizable figure in Treasure Island. He and Jim have a complex relationship that is tangled in the old pirate's dual personalities. On one hand, he is a kind, good-hearted man and on the other, he is heartless and cruel. The character is outstanding because the author blurs the line between good and evil, which makes the pirate a villain who earns the reader's sympathy.
Pew, like Billy Bones, appears to represent a side of Long John Silver. He is deformed and blind, which is deceptive because he has the capacity to do great harm.
Doctor Livesey is a paternal figure for Jim who has many great attributes. He is fair, brave and intelligent, as well as kind. He narrates a few chapters of the book, allowing readers to take his perspective. His main concerns are fairness, health and wellbeing. He demonstrates deep concern for others.
Squire Trelawney organizes the treasure hunt. He tends to be too trusting and he makes considerable mistakes through his naïve nature. He is a skilled shooter who has remarkable aim, but is unable to earn Jim's respect. A servant, Redruth who is killed on the treasure hunt, accompanies the squire.
Captain Smollett is the opposite of the squire, who is very perceptive and cunning. He is a demanding authority figure who demands respect but is unable to earn it from Jim. Ironically, Jim rebels against the squire and the captain in spite of their differing natures.
Black Dog is a friend of Billy Bones who alerts him that other pirates know where he is. The pair end up fighting and the scuffle injures Billy.
Israel Hands is a representation of evil. The pirate has a "kill or be killed" philosophy that leads him to ruthless behavior, yet he shows a paternal side to Jim that makes Jim forget to be cautious of him. Jim kills this character and feels no regret for his actions.
Ben is a funny character in Treasure Island who balances the tension intertwined in the story. He appears to be obtuse to other pirates, but he shows great skill by surviving on an abandoned island for three years. He also manages to hide the treasure.
Treasure in Treasure Island
On the surface, the novel is a story about pirates, but as the intricate Treasure Island characters unfold, the reader gets a sense that the book is about much more. The paternal figures each have something to offer Jim, both good and bad. Jim is a character that kids can relate to, and he manages to make decisions that lead him to transform from a child to a young man.