Jim Hawkins vs. Long John Silver: The Inadvertent Intersection of Success and Villainy in Treasure Island

Any basic plot is driven by the conflict from opposing trails to intertwined goals. There can only be one winner. Treasure Island symbolizes this with the epitome of archetypes: Long John Silver the notorious villain and Jim Hawkins the hero boy. However, the argument can be made that Silver is the cause for Jim’s effectiveness as a hero. Jim would lose his appeal if there was not as sharp a repellant as Silver. The sea-cook had his own idea of success, and his motives, means, and ambitions surface as sordid throughout his character growth in the novel. Key traits bleed into our interpretation of Silver: his manipulative treachery, his selfish secrecy, and his brutal level of determination. It is all of these traits that compound in his development to make it an aware fact that he is the villain, and Jim Hawkins is the hero. Mr. Stevenson’s work is a just depiction of two alternate sides in a typical Romantic adventure: Long John Silver’s development along his path to becoming a villain demonstrates that evil is rarely circumvented on the pursuit of success throughout Treasure Island.

Long John Silver is in a definitively comprehensive state of others’ emotions and uses that ability to control others. This is evident from the start from his encounter with Squire Trelawney, where he sold his character as eloquently loyal, humble, and pitied simply by targeting the nobleman’s sympathetic ties. As Silver recruits the opinion of “one of the best possible shipmates” (Stevenson 36) from Jim, and the boy pants after him with the obedience of a pitiful dog, ready to chase after every piece of flattery that drops carelessly from Silver’s lips, it is becoming clear that Silver has a motive behind the catalyst of his relationships, and he is not innocent to the effect of the emotions of his peers. He is always in control of what others think of him, as he shapes his image in convenience for situations with his gift of manipulative charisma. Even after Jim disillusioned his personal judgment of the mutineer by witnessing Silver play his magic on another while eavesdropping through the apple barrel, and he responded with feelings of anger and rage, “I would have killed him through the barrel” (46), the two circle back around to a remarkably truant relationship as hostage and beholder. This documents Silver’s skill of always being able to stay where he wants to in his ever-shifting game of charades.

The ultimate embodiment of Silver’s powers is when he was able to overturn the black spot, the mutineer condemnation that demanded certain death. Dick, a young boy that Silver had initially coaxed into the buccaneer way of thinking, had his shifty conscience targeted when Silver made allusions to his roots that Dick had abandoned to join the rebel cause. Silver is slyly clever enough to always turn around the standings so that he is carefree and in control, safe on the high road. The others even catch on and tell him to “belay that talk” (126). With words as the main weapon by which Silver is characterized, it is a sneaky underlain notice that he is a ceaselessly thinking man. He always knows how to expect what’s next, easily adapting no matter what the odds. It is clearly showcased that Long John Silver is a genius, and because of his comprehensive abilities, Long John could and should have succeeded as a protagonist. However, selfishness steered Long John Silver’s talents and made him evil, consequently bringing Jim up in the light of good.

At the start of the voyage, Long John Silver begins to distance himself from the rest of the crew in an invisible personal hierarchy, overthrowing Smollett and channeling the loyalties of the ship’s crew to himself. Accomplishing his convenient bias, it is also noticeable that when there is danger, it is never the sea cook that is targeted, as he ensures that to either team at any moment, there is a value to him that insures his worth. For instance, Silver takes Jim as hostage under the proposal to his band that the boy is an excellent cover plan, yet sells the act to the doctor and the squire as one of memorable mercy, telling them to “make a note of [it]” (132). The man is a constant accessory to both sides, with the mere interest of self survival. This is a strong contrast from Jim’s loyalty. Jim will stick to his word no matter what the outcome, yet Silver has shady, dodgy, questionable motives tailored to himself without regards for others. This shuts him off as a reachable character for the other characters and the readers.. His crew abhors him for his ultimate abandonment, and Jim resents him for his underhand betrayal. Readers see Silver’s fading public perception when he narrowly escapes the wrath of his dimwitted pirate band, and Jim becomes emboldened as the hero as he acknowledges his disapproval for Silver’s unethical ways. Jim’s steadfast devotion to courtesy and reliability provides the romantic figure desired by homely hearts. Long John Silver let his aptitude become tainted with self-servitude, and it led to his name of evil as a villain.

Long John Silver became identified as a villain when he grew relentless and brutal inn chasing after his goal. In the developmental stages of planning his scheme for acquiring treasure, he makes it clear that he will continue with the eventual clearing of anyone that isn’t on his side. With the excuse that what’s got to be done has to be done, he proclaims, “I claim Trelawney. I’ll wring his calf’s head off his body with these hands” (48). There is no sense of conscience found at closer examination of Silver’s blood-thirsty viciousness. He adorns his past with his adventures of mutiny and daring quests, and boldly implies that he has killed many before the expedition to Skeleton Island. Throughout the novel, Jim and Silver had been on parallel races to success, but because of Long John’s narrow vision, he became strictly obsessive, and was blinded to the true terrible value of his ruthlessness. He becomes scarily willing to take harsh and definite means, insisting upon severe clearings. Evil is an insignificant label as what matters in his world tables off onto a straight platform of pining after the treasure he has coveted for so long. Filtered through a ferocious mindset, evil intent and tack seem plausible and sane to Long John Silver. To the pirate, evil has evolved to become another aspect to the logic of success. Long John Silver had the potential of triumphing in his goal. However, his plan was sabotaged by the opposite force at work, heroism.

As Silver’s basis of success was founded upon a shaky and unstable manipulative path, there was no way for him to stay close to any morals, ethics, or conscience. He eventually progressed to be a distinguishably detestable villain as success diverged into evil. This was the downfall of his intentions. The story cheered on the hero, and the readers read in earnest. Because Jim was able to come out in possession of goodwill with a fist of luck in the air, he was the hero that countered Silver’s attempts. Long John Silver’s example of how brilliance, intelligence, and ability still cannot guarantee success exemplifies that evil is a very obstructive obstacle, and to achieve success without it is truly heroic.

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