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S-1911 1751

Treasure Island

Where the brave fell

A one-legged devil

From the pit of hell

A greedy demon, on his treasury

Cursed the island, oh eternally

 Fifteen men on the dead man's chest ... Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Treasure Island, written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1881, is a classic tale of pirates and buried treasure, which created many of the pirate tropes, including

  • X marks the spot on a Treasure Map.
  • One leg and a parrot as the standard pirate look.
  • The excessive use of nautical slang by pirate characters ("Shiver my timbers!").

In the book, Jim Hawkins, an ordinary boy, discovers a treasure map among the effects of a deceased resident at his family's inn. He shows it to two local gentlemen (a landed noble and a wealthy doctor), who charter a ship to search for the treasure on Skeleton Island, but they hire sailor-turned-tavern-owner Long John Silver as their cook, unaware that he is a pirate. Long John becomes Jim's mentor, while winning over most of the crew.

By chance, Jim overhears Long John's plotting, and warns his friends, just as they arrive at the island. Over the next few days, Jim repeatedly wanders into danger, meets a scary hermit and kills a pirate by himself, while Long John keeps switching sides, and the treasure is found.

Jim and his friends return home rich, Long John escapes with some of the treasure, and the rest of the pirates get marooned on the island or killed.

This book has been adapted into several Movies, including

Although originally published chapter-by-chapter in a magazine, when published as a book it became very popular, the British Prime Minister Gladstone staying up until two in the morning to finish it. It is also the ultimate inspiration for all the subsequent pirate Movies and other Novels, down to Pirates of The Caribbean. Many of them include a Shout-Out to Treasure Island. E.g., in Peter Pan, it is said that Captain Hook was the only man Long John Silver ever feared, while Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest features the "Black Spot" (in a flashier form) and the song quoted at the beginning of this entry.


The novel provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Ben Gunn is often portrayed as an older man, however in the Sky 1 adaptation he is portrayed by a shirtless Elijah Wood in tribal paint.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Squire Trelawney in the Sky 1 adaptation has Mrs Hawkins thrown out of the Admiral Benbow inn, arranges for the execution of Mr Arrow, and schemes to cheat Jim and Dr Livesy out of the treasure. In the book, while somewhat foolish, he is well-meaning and far from evil.
  • Affably Evil: Long John, one of the ultimate exemplars of this trope. Sure, he's a lying, thieving, murdering scumbag pirate...but he's also a lovable, charismatic anti-villain! How can you hold anything against him?
  • The Aloner
  • Anti-Villain - Long John Silver
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers - Ben Gunn is obsessed to the point of insanity with cheese, not having had any for three years.
  • Catapult Nightmare - At the very end of the book, Jim Hawkins says that the worst dreams he ever has are when he "start[s] upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint [the parrot] still ringing in my ears."
  • Coming of Age Story.
  • Equal Opportunity Evil: The pirate crews in the Sky 1 adaption are very multiculutral, contrasting with the all-white upper class Evil Brit.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Pirate, mutineer and murderer Long John Silver may be, but he bends over backwards, even risking the Black Spot, to keep Jim Hawkins alive.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Jim is captured by the pirates and is given the offer of joining them or else, he delivers a defiant Facing The Bullets Speech outlining how it was him the whole time that kept screwing up their plans, that the laugh's on his side and he no more fears them than he fears a fly, but he'll put in a word at court for them if they choose to spare him.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The story is introduced as Jim's tale of his adventure, which keeps you from getting too worried whenever his life is at risk. Considering that the story already includes an adolescent of unspecified age (some adaptations go as far as casting a preteen) getting hit by a thrown knife as well as being captured by pirates and threatened with torture, this may have been necessary at the time to keep the story from feeling too dark and shocking the audience.
  • Handicapped Badass- Long John Silver killed an honest crewman who refused to join the pirates, by hurling his crutch at him, thus breaking his spine, and then hopping one-legged to him and slitting his throat.
  • Heel Face Revolving Door: Silver.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jim keeps his promise not to escape with the doctor even though his life is in danger if he stays, at the point where even the doctor himself is ready to break his word because he can't bear the thought of young Jim being tortured to death. This is the turning point in Jim's Coming of Age Story.
  • Karma Houdini - Long John Silver, who gets away with his life and a few hundred pounds from the treasure (rather less than one tenth of one percent).
    • Also Ben Gunn. Nobody seems particularly bothered that he was a part of one of the most feared pirate crews that ever sailed, and he gets a larger share of the treasure than Silver did (which he manages to blow in three weeks, at which point he is given a pension). This was averted in the Sky 1 adaption, where Ben Gunn is far more sympathetic and chooses to stay on the island because he thinks the devils won't come back.
  • Loveable Rogue - Long John Silver, verging on Magnificent Bastard
    • He also gives investment advice to young sailors.
  • Lovable Traitor - Long John Silver
  • The Mole - again, Silver
  • The Mutiny - Captain Flint's crew, under Long John Silver, rebelled in the backstory. Silver also leads the gang of pirates that rebel against Captain Smollett in the actual story.
  • Not So Harmless: Blind Pew and Silver are two cripples you don't want to meet.
  • Pirate Parrot
  • Public Domain Character - All of them
  • Retired Badass - Flint, the captain who murdered a good chunk of his own crew to hide the treasure's location, was afraid of Silver. Silver has been peacefully running an inn and living happily with his wife for some years when the story begins.
  • Robinsonade - Ben Gunn has been marooned on the island.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal
  • Switching POV: For practical reasons, we switch to the doctor when important events occur that Jim didn't witness.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - Quite definitely averted, perhaps surprisingly so for a childrens' book. The Pirates, Silver included, are clearly a ruthless bunch of murderers, and the on-page body count is rather high.
  • Treasure Map - Trope Codifier
  • Trojan Prisoner - Long John Silver pretends to hold Jim hostage. Or does he?
  • Upperclass Twit: Squire Trelawney
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men - Long John Silver and his crew exemplify this trope.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Captain Silver has a parrot named Cap'n Flint.
  • When It All Began: When Captain Flint buried his treasure on the island.
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