In this essay we are going to analyze and look into the mysterious man known as Long John Silver. We are going to learn about the ways he influences others, manipulates them and his powerful physical status. All these qualities together really do make him a “remarkable man”.
Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish author who first published “Treasure Island” in 1883. Stevenson originally wrote the book as “The Sea Cook” but the publishing company would not have the name of a criminal on the front cover of a book so Stevenson changed it to “Treasure Island”. He named the character of Long John Silver after a good friend as Stevenson thought of him as a remarkable man but their relationship soon deteriorated.
Long John Silver is a one – legged pirate who used to be quartermaster to the treacherous Captain Flint. Long John Silver is a cunning, crafty man who appears friendly and forthcoming but soon shows his true colours as a devious pirate on “Treasure Island”.
At the start of the novel Jim Hawkins’s impression of Long John Silver was very good. “His left leg was cut off close by the hip, and under the left shoulder carried a crutch which he managed with wonderful dexterity, hopping about upon it like a bird. He was very tall and strong, with a face as big as a ham-plain and pale, but intelligent and smiling”. Jim feels that he is wanted and is a genuine friend of Silvers. Silver flatters Jim and makes him feel like he is one of the gang. “You’re as smart as paint”. I feel Long John Silver has a genuine affection for Jim and is not putting up a completely false front with him.
When Black Dog enters the Inn everyone is horrified as a pirate is in their midst. They turn to Silver for an explanation of why this violent, treacherous man is here but with Silver’s false and manipulative qualities everyone believes he is a victim of the incident and takes pity on him. This is another side to Silver’s personality as we know Black Dog is one of Silver’s old ship mates and Silver knows him very well. Silver had been talking to Black Dog and they had a quarrel so Black Dog ran out injuring Silver. Silver is a very intelligent man and more so than all the other pirates. Another sign of Silver’s two faced personality is in chapter 8 when the Squire meets Silver. He thinks Silver is a cheerful, pleasant and intelligent man. Silver’s ability to do this and make people believe what he wants them to believe all reflects on him being a “remarkable man”.
However, in chapter 11 Silver reveals all to Jim as he over hears one of Silver’s conversations with the pirates while trying to get an apple out of the apple barrel. He reveals that he is going to get rid of the gentlemen and take over the ship and that he worked for the deadly Captain Flint. Silver also reveals another intellectual side to him that he spread his treasure out into different banks so as no one would get suspicious of him being a pirate. Silver also invested his money on an Inn.
This shows he is not like all the other pirates as they blow all their money in six months on rum and all other irrelevant things. Jim is extremely disappointed in Silver and now realises that he is a fake. “I could have killed him through the barrel”. Jim tells Captain Smollett and the Squire of what he had heard. The Squire and Captain Smollett felt silly and stupid for letting Silver manipulate them. “no more an ass than I sir”. They soon conjure up a plan to stop the pirates and bring them back to England to be put on trial for murder, piracy and treason.
Silver who seems to be a crippled man who is not very mobile but as the book progresses he unravels a deadly and murderous side to him. “As agile as a monkey”. In chapter 16 Silver is talking to a man called Tom and trying to persuade him to join their mutiny and overthrow the gentlemen. Seconds later there is a cry in the distance and then a loud scream coming from the marsh. Silver tells Tom that the cry is from anther pirate named Alan being killed. Tom is disgusted and turns his back on Silver. Silver then balances with one hand on the branch of a tree and in complete fury hurls his crutch into the back of Tom paralysing him and in a flash is on top of the man stabbing him to ensure he is dead.
In the mean while Jim is watching this in absolute horror and shock. He doesn’t know what to do so he runs away. Silver has showed us that he can be a lethal killing machine and nothing will stop him. From Silver being a man that looks like a cripple and at first appearances a kind gentle man he has proven that he is the opposite. Stevenson uses many similes to describe Silver, “as agile as a monkey”, “like a snake about to spring”, “speed and security of a trained gymnast”. All these similes help us imagine what Silver is like and greatly enhance his character
In chapter 20 Silver is trying to take over and he tries to negotiate with the gentlemen. He says that if they give him the map then he will drop them off somewhere safe and not harm them but Captain Smollett is in no mood to negotiate. “You’re either my ship’s cook – and then you were treated handsome – or Cap’n Silver, a common mutineer and pirate, and then you can go hang!” Silver knows that he can’t get anywhere without Captain Smollett so he is very clever. Silver’s confident side is being shown as he feels that he is in control of the situation. Silver always seems to be on the winning side. He would have one foot in each camp, the pirates and the gentlemen. He always seems to change sides and always comes out on the winning one. Even though Silver is being taken back to England to be hung, he still manages to get the gentlemen to say that they will stick up for him in court.
Silver has showed us many things in this novel. He has proved that he can appear kind, gentle and intelligent but also behind all the make up is a lean, mean killing machine who will murder anyone in an instant if they get in his way of achieving his goal.