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THEMES / THEME ANALYSIS
Treasure Island is a gripping adventure story that records the physical voyage and emotional development of the protagonist, Jim Hawkins. He grows from an irresponsible, immature lad to a mature, sociable youth. The voyage that transforms Jim takes him away from his calm country life, to the high seas and to the unknown island where Captain Flintís treasure is buried.
Stevenson builds up the character of Jim carefully by planting him in strange situations, every experience contributing to the image building of the character.
It is a story of dream fulfillment which ends on a happy note. The smooth flowing narrative of the story with its various situations directly talks to the reader about the moral values that needs to be incubated in a growing child. The very first line of the book, for instance, brings out the quality of obedience of Jim Hawkins when he is asked by the doctor and the Squire to write down the experiences they went through at Treasure Island.
The development of Jimís character to a mature young lad is built up through different characters like Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawny and Captain Smollet, the most memorable amongst them being the Sea Cook, Long John Silver.
Stevenson introduces us to the characteristics of pirates through the strong portrayal of the Sea Cook. The image of the Sea Cook stays with readers for a long time, probably because the story was actually named 'the Sea Cook' originally.
Though the mature characters of the book do stand out as father figures for the young protagonist, Jim's image as a young hero who contributes to the story in a major way comes out strongly for young readers.
Stevensonís intention was to merely entertain his readers with interesting characters. As Stevenson once said that this book was intended "to be a story for boys; no need of psychology or fine writing." Though there is plenty of both in Treasure Island and the book more than anything else thoroughly entertains the young readers.
DESCRIPTIVE PASSAGES IN THE NOVEL
The topographical appropriateness with which Stevenson describes the island and its settings reminds us of the country of Islands, Scotland, where Stevenson was often taken to as a child. The vivid explanations of the hills, green vegetation, pine trees, sea waves lashing against the rocks are quite reminiscent of the places the author visited as a child.
On a human plane, the book can be set on two different platforms. Firstly it is set in the constantly changing world of Jimís personality. The voyage to Treasure Island is for Jim a journey to maturity where he learns to distinguish between the good and bad.
Secondly, it is set in the world of greed and treachery. This is the world of pirates where no one can be trusted and everybody exists under the cloud of death.
1. Attempt a structural analysis of Treasure Island with special emphasis on Stevensonís suspenseful ending for each story.
2. In what way does Jimís life at the inn prepare him for adventure? Discuss.
3. How is Treasure Island more a story of plot and less of character? How does the action in the book contribute to it?
4. Bring out the significance of the apple barrel episode. How does it change the course of the plot? Discuss.
5. Jim undergoes a process of growth through adventure. Trace this development.
6. Comment on the narrative strategy employed by Stevenson.
7. Attempt a character sketch on each: Captain Flint, Pew, Silver and Hands. Compare and contrast their characters.
8. Discuss Treasure Island as a stock adventure story. Discuss the speed of the narrative and the double-narrator strategy used by Stevenson.
9. Are there any messages hidden in Treasure Island? Does the book make for didactic reading? Discuss.