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Main Characters

Jim Hawkins

The narrator of most of Treasure Island, Jim is never described directly. He is probably in his early teens, much smaller than the burly pirates of the Hispaniola - though must be very athletic and agile to hold his own against them. Jim is fiercely loyal, brave, and adventurous. He is also very curious and has a bit of a mischievous streak. These traits frequently get him in trouble, but also put him in a position to help Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesey, and Squire Trelawney find the treasure and get home safely. Jim is the only son of innkeepers on the English coast. He works at their inn, the Admiral Benbow, until Billy Bones arrives, bringing trouble and adventure with him. Jim's father dies shortly before this, and Jim seems to be searching for a father figure throughout Treasure Island: he reveres Dr. Livesey and also adores Silver until the pirate proves deceitful.
When the pirates come looking for Billy Bones, Bones dies of a stroke and Jim flees with Captain Flint's treasure map. Jim joins Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney on a mission to find the treasure. Jim waits at Trelawney's house while the ship and crew are found, then rides to Dover to join them. Jim nearly exposes Silver's plot when he runs into Black Dog, one of the pirates who was chasing Bones, at Silver's tavern. But Silver persuades Jim it's just a coincidence and the Hispaniola sets sail without incident. Jim is again in the center of the action when, just before arriving at Skeleton Island, he overhears Silver and some other men plotting a mutiny. Jim tells the captain, Livesey, and Trelawney what he's heard, then sneaks off to the island to spy on the pirates. While on the island, Jim witnesses a Silver murdering a sailor and meets Ben Gunn, a marooned sailor who lives on the island. Jim hears gunshots and stumbles across the stockade where the other loyal men are holed up.
Rejoining his friends, Jim helps them fight off an attack by Silver's men. Jim grows restless in the stockade and sneaks away with a plan to row out to the Hispaniola and cut its anchor-rope, leaving the pirates stranded. Having executed his mission, Jim jumps aboard the ship, where he finds two pirates, one dead and the other, Israel Hands, wounded. Jim and Hands team up to steer the ship back to shore, but Hands attacks Jim, who kills him. Returning to land, Jim is taken prisoner by Silver and his men, who are occupying the stockade; thinking his friends dead, Jim nearly gives up hope. He is cheered up when Dr. Livesey comes to treat the wounded pirates. Jim is stung by Livesey's scolding, but his hope is renewed.
Silver, Jim, and the other pirates head into the woods with the treasure map. Jim knows that he is only alive as insurance for Silver, who might turn on him at any moment. As they walk through the woods, the pirates are frightened by a voice pretending to be Captain Flint's ghost. When they arrive at the location of the treasure, they find only an empty hole. As the furious pirates begin to turn on Silver (and Jim, who is tied to him), Livesey and his companions open fire from the bushes and rout the pirates. Jim rejoins the others, who have joined forces with Ben Gunn and secured the treasure. After days spent loading the treasure on the ship, they sail for England, where Jim lives prosperously until many years later, when he records his story.

Dr. Livesey

Dr. Livesey is the physician of the town nearest the Admiral Benbow. He is a neat, well-groomed man with bright black eyes and a well-powdered wig. At one time, Livesey served in the army and he still maintains the military virtues of courage, loyalty, and efficiency. He is very insistent on good manners and respectful behavior, and seems personally offended by the pirates' slovenly habits and coarse manners. Dr. Livesey is always calm in crisis situations and fights bravely against the pirates. Although he does not show much emotion, the doctor is very fond of Jim Hawkins, which is evident in the three chapters he narrates.
Dr. Livesey's first appearance is his argument with Billy Bones at the Admiral Benbow, when he calmly refuses to back down to Bones' swaggering threats. Livesey is called upon to treat Bones after his stroke, and cares for the old sailor impartially. When Jim flees the inn with Bones' treasure map, he asks to be taken to Dr. Livesey. After hearing Jim's story, Livesey takes him to meet his old friend, Squire Trelawney. Together the men make a plan to outfit a ship and sail after Flint's treasure. Knowing his friend's tendency to blab, Livesey makes Trelawney promise not to reveal the goal of the mission. While Trelawney goes to Dover to outfit the ship, Dr. Livesey settles his affairs and finds a doctor from London to replace him.
When Jim reports the planned mutiny, Livesey, along with Trelawney and the captain, plan to split up the mutineers by allowing some of them to row to the island. When they realize that Jim has gone with the pirates, Livesey and the others decide to take a boat and scout the island. Livesey finds the abandoned stockade and supervises the transfer of food and equipment from the Hispaniola to the island. Dr. Livesey helps defend the stockade against the pirates, then tends the wounded defenders. While Jim is off trying to cut loose the Hispaniola, Dr. Livesey and the others negotiate a truce with the pirates. They let the pirates have the stockade and some provisions, and Dr. Livesey agrees to treat the sick and wounded pirates; he also gives Silver the treasure map. When Jim returns from his adventure and is captured by Silver, Livesey is very relieved to find him alive and tries to persuade Jim to escape with him. Jim refuses, so Livesey warns Silver to keep Jim close to him and look out for trouble when they find the treasure. Dr. Livesey then goes to lay an ambush for the disappointed pirates with Ben Gunn and Abraham Gray. Reunited with Jim, Livesey and the others keep a close eye on Silver as they retrieve the treasure and return to the ship.

Long John Silver

Silver is the most mysterious and probably the most interesting of the characters. He is tall, powerful man, with light hair and a cheerful, intelligent face. Silver is missing his left leg and uses a crutch to get around; however, he is very quick and nimble, almost as capable as a two-legged man. Silver keeps a parrot, named Cap'n Flint, on his shoulder much of the time, and is full of colorful nautical tales and terminology. Silver's open, cheerful exterior hides the soul of a crafty manipulator; Silver plans the mutiny from the very beginning, convincing even the suspicious Captain Smollett of his trustworthiness.
Long John Silver served under Captain Flint, the pirate who won the huge treasure and buried it on Skeleton Island. When Squire Trelawney arrives in Bristol, blabbing about a mission to find Flint's treasure, Silver signs on as cook and carefully stocks the crew with his fellow pirates. Once the Hispaniola is at sea, Silver begins trying to turn the rest of the crew to his side; just before land is sighted, Jim overhears Silver talking to another crewman about the glory of the pirate life. Silver takes part of the crew, some loyal and some mutineers, to the island. As they pirates celebrate drunkenly, Silver kills Tom, a crewman who won't join them, before Jim's eyes. Shortly afterwards, the pirates begin fighting openly with the captain and his men, who have moved to the stockade on Skeleton Island. After an exchange of gunfire, Silver come to try to negotiate with the loyal men; when Captain Smollett refuses his terms, Silver leads a charge on the stockade in which several men are killed and the captain wounded.
While Jim Hawkins is off on his boat adventure, Silver negotiates a truce with Dr. Livesey and the others: in return for safe passage to the other side of the island, the pirates take over the stockade and receive supplies and daily visits from Dr. Livesey, as well as the treasure map. When Jim returns to the stockade, Silver captures him, but prevents his men from killing Jim. Silver is careful to keep Jim alive as insurance against his hanging should the pirates be captured; however, Silver's men begin to suspect that he's playing a double game, and tensions mount. After Dr. Livesey's visit, Silver leads his men and Jim into the woods to find the treasure. Driving them on in spite of their fear of Flint's ghost, Silver arrives at the empty hole where the treasure would be. Silver quickly assesses the situation and gives Jim a pistol; Livesey launches his ambush, and Silver and Jim are saved. Trelawney, Smollett and the others are suspicious of Silver, but allow him to join them; he escapes with a bag of gold when they land in South America and is never seen again.

Ben Gunn

A member of Flint's crew with Long John Silver (of whom he is still terrified), Ben Gunn was marooned on Skeleton Island three years later, when another ship he was on landed there to look for Flint's treasure. When Jim Hawkins meets up with Ben, he is sunburned and dressed in a ragged patchwork of scraps from the ship's supplies. Ben's sanity has been shaken by his years of isolation, and his behavior is somewhat dazed and childish, but he is still an able comrade for the loyal men.
Ben Gunn is a minor character, but important to the action of Treasure Island in several ways. Ben meets up with Jim in the woods when the boy is running from the pirates. Ben quickly befriends Jim and agrees to help him fight off Silver and his men. Ben tells Jim about his little homemade boat and arranges to meet one of the captain's party later. From Silver's words at the truce meeting, Jim deduces than Ben Gunn killed one of the pirates that night. Dr. Livesey then goes off into the woods to find Ben, where he discovers (although the reader doesn't find this out until the end) that Ben has found Flint's treasure. Ben next appears when Silver's men are hunting for the treasure; he mimics Captain Flint's voice, terrifying the superstitious pirates until they realize it is his voice. Ben also takes part in the ambush at the empty treasure hole.

Squire Trelawney

Squire Trelawney is a wealthy landowner and a friend of Dr. Livesey. He is over six feet tall, powerful, and energetic. He is quick-tempered and enthusiastic, but not very cautious; his lack of discretion alerts Silver that the Hispaniola is sailing after Flint's treasure, and leads directly to the mutiny. The squire is a capable sailor and an excellent marksman.
Trelawney enters the story when Jim Hawkins brings the treasure map to Dr. Livesey, who is then visiting the squire. Trelawney provides the money and much of the motivation needed to mount the expedition, and it is he who goes to Bristol to find a ship and crew. The gullible squire trusts Silver to pick most of his crew for him, and ends up with a crew of pirates. Trelawney initially dislikes Captain Smollett, but when Smollett proves to be right about the unreliable crew, Trelawney quickly admits his mistake and puts his trust in the captain. Trelawney plays a central role in the battles against the pirates; as the loyal men's best shot, he is often called on to pick off the attacking pirates. When Redruth, Trelawney's old gamekeeper, is killed by the pirates, Trelawney weeps and asks his forgiveness. When Livesey, Gray, and Ben Gunn go to ambush the pirates at the treasure site, Trelawney and the wounded captain head to the cave where Ben Gunn has stashed the treasure.

Captain Smollett

Captain Smollett is a sharp, observant man, a tough disciplinarian and an able navigator. He is upset from the start at the disrespectful behavior and lax discipline of his crew and warns the squire that no good will come of them. While Jim and the others at first think the captain is a harsh, unreasonable man, they soon warm to him when he proves to right about the crew, and Smollett becomes the leader of the loyal men during the battles with the pirates.
Captain Smollett thrives on discipline; when his men leave their watch posts to listen to him negotiate with Silver, he gives them a stern tongue-lashing. The captain's attitude seems to motivate his men, keeping them together even against huge odds. When the British flag that he raises above the stockade attracts the pirates' cannon fire, Captain Smollett refuses to take it down. When Silver comes to negotiate a truce, Captain Smollett is deliberately disrespectful towards him, making the pirate sit on the ground as they talk. When the pirates storm the stockade, Smollett is wounded in the leg and directs the rest of the action from his bed. Dr. Livesey takes over from the disabled captain, and Smollett disappears until the reunion at the end.

Billy Bones

The old sailor who appears at the beginning of Treasure Island is called Billy Bones by the other characters, although he insists "that's not my name" when Dr. Livesey addresses him as such. He is a tall, heavy man with a pigtail, sun-browned skin, and a scar across one cheek. Bones arrives at the Admiral Benbow inn and sets the events of the story in motion. He is a member of Flint's crew, apparently on the run from the other survivors, who want the treasure map he's taken. He is nervous, constantly asking if any sailors have arrived, and warning Jim about a one-legged man.
Bones is a drunk and a bully; he terrorizes the staff and guest of the inn until Dr. Livesey confronts him. Despite his unpleasant manners, Bones fascinates Jim Hawkins and some of the other residents of the inn with his colorful stories of life on the sea. One day Black Dog, a pirate, appears at the inn, and has a violent argument with Billy Bones, who suffers a stroke afterward. When Blind Pew and the other pirates show up to give Bones the "black spot", Bones suffers another stroke and dies. When Jim and his mother search Bones' chest for money to pay his bill, they find the treasure map.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10, 11, and 12
Chapters 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24
Chapters 25, 26, and 27
Chapters 28, 29, and 30
Chapters 31, 32, 33, and 34


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