full title Treasure Island
author Robert Louis Stevenson
type of work Novel
genre Children’s book, adventure story, coming-of-age story
time and place written 1881, Scotland
date of first publication 1883
publisher Cassell and Company
narrator Jim Hawkins is both the hero of the tale and the narrator for all but three chapters—Dr. Livesey narrates Chapters XV–XVIII. Jim narrates the tale because Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney ask him to recount the events after the end of the adventure.
point of view Jim narrates from first-and third-person perspectives. In doing so, he presents plot developments that only he himself observes. Livesey does the same in his portion of the narrative. Whereas Jim describes his state of mind, feelings, and attitudes throughout his tale, Livesey is more objectively factual in his narration.
tone Jim’s attitudes toward his life and his adventure are significant. The fact that he hardly mentions his parents, even after his father’s death, suggests indifference toward his family. Jim shows moderate respect, and occasional impatience, when describing Captain Smollett and Dr. Livesey. When Jim describes the pirates, his tone suggests that he admires and reveres them, and is certainly fascinated by them. Jim’s tone is generally modest when narrating his own heroic feats.
setting (time) During the eighteenth century
setting (place) Near Bristol, England, and Treasure Island, an island off the coast of “Spanish America”
protagonist Jim Hawkins
major conflict Jim, Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, Captain Smollett, and his crew search for a treasure that Captain Flint, an old pirate, has left buried after his death. They are challenged by Flint’s former crewmembers, who have tricked Trelawney into hiring them to help sail to Treasure Island.
rising action The discovery of the treasure map in the inn; the hiring of a treacherous crew for the expedition; the voyage to Treasure Island; the mutiny of Silver and his crew; Silver taking Jim as a hostage
climax The pirates’ and Jim’s discovery that the treasure has already been excavated from its burial ground
falling action The return trip to England; Silver’s escape with some of the treasure; Jim’s nightmares about the sea and gold coins
themes The search for heroic role models; the futility of desire; the lack of adventure in the modern age; the hunger for adventure; the vanity of pursuing wealth; the process of growing up and proving oneself
motifs Solitude; animals; the color black; singing; physical handicaps; betrayal
symbols The coracle; the treasure map; rum; the black spot; Ben Gunn’s insanity; the skeleton pointing the way to the treasure; the empty treasure site
foreshadowing Billy Bones is handed his black spot and dies soon thereafter; Captain Smollett is suspicious of his new crew, which turns out to be mutinous; Mr. Arrow repeatedly gets drunk, then disappears from the ship; Jim sees Israel Hands hide a knife under his jacket, and Hands soon attacks him; the sailors sing about a dead man’s chest before the adventure has begun, and almost all of them end up dead in the end