Captain Smollett is hired by Squire Trelawney to captain the Hispaniola on the voyage to Treasure Island. He is stern, strict, and moral, and he is wary of the trip (especially the crew) from the moment they embark. While characters like Jim and Squire Trelawney resent Captain Smollett and his unending negativity at the start of the journey, he is eventually vindicated when his anxieties about mutiny and piracy are proven to be justified.
Captain Smollett has a complex role in the novel. On one hand, Smollett functions as the antithesis to pirates like Long John Silver. He, unlike Silver and his crew, is an upstanding seaman. Smollett is a gifted strategist and leader. For instance, he manages to keep up morale and plan a successful stand against the mutineers when he, Jim, Trelawney, Livesey, and the others are stationed in the stockade even after he is injured. His firm command over his men is juxtaposed with the pirates who flounder the moment they strike off from the ship.
On the other hand, Smollett’s rigid manner renders him less interesting in Jim’s adolescent mind. While Jim certainly appreciates Smollett’s courage and skills, he is far more compelled by the charismatic and intriguing Long John Silver. Stevenson makes this explicitly clear towards the end of the novel when Dr. Livesey observes that Jim thought nothing of abandoning Smollett but refuses to abandon Silver. Through Jim’s assessment of Smollett and Silver, Stevenson implies that Jim is more influenced by pirate charisma than he is by staid rule-followers.