first-person narrator of almost the entire novel. Jim is the son
of an innkeeper near Bristol, England, and is probably in his early
teens. He is eager and enthusiastic to go to sea and hunt for treasure.
He is a modest narrator, never boasting of the remarkable courage
and heroism he consistently displays. Jim is often impulsive and
impetuous, but he exhibits increasing sensitivity and wisdom.
in-depth analysis of Jim Hawkins.
old seaman who resides at Jim’s parents’ inn. Billy, who used to
be a member of Silver’s crew, is surly and rude. He hires Jim to
be on the lookout for a one-legged man, thus involving the young
Jim in the pirate life. Billy’s sea chest and treasure map set the
whole adventure in motion. His gruff refusal to pay his hotel bills
symbolizes the pirates’ general opposition to law, order, and civilization.
His illness and his fondness for rum symbolize the weak and self-destructive
aspects of the pirate lifestyle.
pirate and enemy of Billy. Black Dog pays an unexpected visit to
Billy and threatens him. Billy attacks Black Dog, who flees but
remains a herald of coming violence in the novel. Black Dog’s name symbolizes
both the dark and the bestial sides of piracy.
A local Bristol nobleman. Trelawney arranges the
voyage to the island to find the treasure. He is associated with
civic authority and social power, as well as with the comforts of
civilized country life (his name suggests both “trees” and “lawn”).
Trelawney’s street smarts, however, are limited, as the ease with which
the pirates trick him into hiring them as his crew demonstrates.
local doctor. Dr. Livesey is wise and practical, and Jim respects
but is not inspired by him. Livesey exhibits common sense and rational
thought while on the island, and his idea to send Ben to spook the
pirates reveals a deep understanding of human nature. He is fair-minded,
magnanimously agreeing to treat the pirates with just as much care
as his own wounded men. As his name suggests, Livesey represents
the steady, modest virtues of everyday life rather than fantasy,
dream, or adventure.
in-depth analysis of Dr. Livesey.
The captain of the voyage to Treasure Island. Captain
Smollett is savvy and is rightly suspicious of the crew Trelawney
has hired. Smollett is a real professional, taking his job seriously
and displaying significant skill as a negotiator. Like Livesey,
Smollett is too competent and reliable to be an inspirational figure for
Jim’s teenage mind. Smollett believes in rules and does not like
Jim’s disobedience; he even tells Jim that he never wishes to sail
with him again.
Long John Silver
The cook on the voyage to Treasure Island. Silver
is the secret ringleader of the pirate band. His physical and emotional
strength is impressive. Silver is deceitful and disloyal, greedy
and visceral, and does not care about human relations. Yet he is
always kind toward Jim and genuinely fond of the boy. Silver is
a powerful mixture of charisma and self-destructiveness, individualism
in-depth analysis of Long John Silver.
former pirate marooned on Treasure Island. Flint’s pirate crew left
Ben Gunn on the island for three years. Ben’s solitude has left
him somewhat deranged, and he has the appearance of a wild man.
He represents a degradation of the human spirit, yet his experience
has left him morally superior to the pirates. He is the only character
to be reformed, as he shifts sides from the pirates to the good
men, willingly helping Jim and Livesey. Ben’s uncanny imitations
of the dead pirate Flint’s voice suggest that he is a kind of a
ghost of a pirate.
old, blind beggar and pirate. Pew presents Billy with a black spot,
an ultimatum to give up the sea chest’s contents to the pirate gang.
Billy dies soon after Pew’s visit, and Pew then dies in a carriage
accident. Pew can be seen as an angel of death, foreshadowing the
many pirate deaths in the novel.
coxswain (a sailor who steers) on the ship. Hands is a former gunner
on earlier pirate voyages. He is acting as one of two guards on
the ship when the other pirates are ashore, but he gets drunk, kills
the other guard, and lies in a drunken stupor while the ship drifts
aimlessly. Hands symbolizes the reckless behavior of all the pirates.
of Jim’s sailor companions on the ship. Tom is killed by pirate
gunfire and buried with great ceremony on the island, an event that
illustrates the good men’s respect for the dead.