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MonkeyNotes Study Guide for Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson-Book Notes
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David Balfour

David Balfour is the protagonist of the book. At the age of sixteen, he is an orphan with youthful dreams and promise that are interrupted by Ebenezer, his wicked uncle. He has David kidnapped, hoping to have him sent to America and sold as a slave. Ebenezer wants to be rid of his nephew so he can be the sole inheritor of the estate of the House of Shaws. The uncle's plans are interrupted when the "Covenant" is shipwrecked on a reef and David is thrown overboard. As a result, he must save himself and find his way back to Queensferry with the help of his new friend, Alan.

David is a Lowlander who is highly patriotic and principled. He shows his affinity to the 'Whigs' although he appreciates certain qualities of the Jacobites. His stay with the sailors in the "Covenant" teaches him to assess human nature without prejudice. The experiences of his life help him to emerge stronger mentally and morally.

Stevenson presents David as a lively youth with enthusiasm and high hopes. Although he is morally just and mentally determined, he is somewhat intolerant of the faults of others. This is particularly shown when he has trouble forgiving Alan for having taken and lost his money. He is also idealistic, having troubles at time dealing with the practical in life. He naively chases after the murderer of Red Fox, not considering that he is putting himself in grave danger. He does not understand why Alan insists upon pushing onward at an unbearable pace, for he is too young and innocent to fully comprehend their grave danger.

In many ways, however, David is mature for his age. He accepts his status as an orphan and bravely heads to Edinburgh to stay with his uncle, as his father has suggested. When he is thrown from the ship, he does not panic, even though he does not know how to swim. He rationally seeks to find Alan, from whom he has been separated in the shipwreck, for he wisely senses that this man will help him. He bravely sticks with Alan, even though they are in constant danger and David feels pushed to the point of total exhaustion. In the end, he succeeds, with Alan's help, in returning to Queensferry and regaining his identity and proper inheritance.

Through his adventures, David learns many important things about life. It is not good to judge a person, for everyone has good and bad mixed in them. He sees this to be true in Alan and even in his uncle. He also learns that true friendship is the most valuable thing in life. Alan has proven himself a true friend throughout the novel, even though David has questioned and doubted him because of his involvement with the Jacobites. At the end of the book, David realizes that this noble man has risked his own life to save him.

Alan Breck Stewart

Alan Breck is the second most important character in the book. He and David initiate most of the action of the plot and control the movement of the story. Alan's purpose during Kidnapped is to protect David and help him to return to Queensferry, where he can regain his identify and win back his inheritance. It is not an easy task, but Alan proves he is up to the challenge.

Alan Breck Stewart is a character from Scottish history, who witnessed the Great Rebellion of 1745. He is loyal to Prince Charles, Ardshiel, James of the Glens, and Cluny Macpherson and fights against the Campbells, headed by Red Fox. As a deserter from the English army and a Jacobite rebel, he is hunted man. As a result, he must remain in hiding whenever he is on English or Scottish soil. His allies, who are spread all over the Scottish Highlands, aid him whenever he seeks their protection or is in trouble. Through him, the reader comes in contact with the other factual characters of Scottish history.

Alan Breck proves himself to be a good friend and a trusted companion for David. From the time David saves him from his enemies on the "Covenant" until they reach Edinburgh, Alan remains loyal to David. With presence of mind and courage, he defeats his opponents on the ship and wards off all evil forces in the Highlands. At the risk of his own life, he helps David in his flight and provides him shelter and medical help when the boy falls sick.

In spite of his patient, generous, and noble nature, Alan has flaws in his personality. He is boastful and pompous. As a loyal Stuart, he protects the culprit responsible for the murder of Colin Campbell. He drinks liquor and plays a game of cards with his friend, Cluny. He takes and loses all of David's money. His tender heart and sympathetic nature, however, overshadow his weaknesses, and David is always able to forgive him of his weaknesses.

Stevenson succeeds in transforming Alan from a dull historical personage by placing him in a lively fictional situation, where he can become a lovable character who wins the heart of David and his readers.

Ebenezer Balfour

Ebenezer Balfour is the personification of evil and greed. In the past he had unjustly deprived his older brother, Alexander, of his inheritance and had taken charge of their estate. When he becomes aware of David's existence, he fears he will lose his property. As a result, he secretly plots to get rid of David by sending him to the tower on a dark, rainy night. When his scheme fails, he sends David off on the Covenant to be taken to America and sold as a slave. His greed for money makes him cruel and cunning and causes his estrangement from his brother and nephew.

Ebenezer Balfour, leading a lonely and self-centered existence, cuts himself off from the outside world. His greed and miserliness makes him a recluse, fearing the presence of outsiders on his estate. He exhibits peculiar habits and behavior, arming himself with a gun before meeting a visitor at the door. He looks shabby and his manners are strange. His forbidding appearance hides his cowardliness and insecurity. Thus, when he is overpowered by the superior strength and wisdom of David and Alan, he offers no resistance. He is ensnared in a trap similar to the one he had earlier laid for David.

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MonkeyNotes Study Guide for Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson-Summary


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