Hello, my name is Nikolas and today I will be presenting my Book Symposium on Treasure Island.
Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of this Treasure Island and many more, was born on November 13, 1850. Through the early stages of his life, he was heavily governed by his father, Thomas Stevenson, who worked as a lighthouse designer. At 17 Robert enrolled in University to study engineering with the goal of taking over his father’s business, though, Lighthouse design never really did appeal to Robert. So he decided to study law instead. However, law was just as meaningful as Lighthouse design, as Robert emerged from law school in 1875, but never practiced it. He truly felt that being a writer was his calling and being around young writers and painters as he traveled the world only furthered his belief. As his writing career continued he became one of the first authors to practice the short story in the United Kingdom. And through continuous practice of writing, he began to develop the ‘adventure-story narrative’ he is known for today. Around 1878, Robert published his first volume of work, An Inland Voyage later continued through the text, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, which focused on the quality of using the voice and character of the narrator, rather than just telling a story. Later throughout his life, he met his future wife, Fanny Osbourne in 1876, who had two children. One of which helped Robert write one of his greatest works, Treasure Island. Which, ironically, started off with a drawing of a treasure map for his 12-year-old step-son. Soon after Treasure Island was published Robert began to get his first taste of popularity and his goal of becoming a famous writer had finally begun. Unfortunately, On December 3, 1894, Robert died of a stroke, as he had hemorrhagic lungs throughout most of his life. Fortunately, his works have remained in their glory and are still popular today.
Like previously stated, the idea of Treasure Island was ignited by a treasure map given by Robert to his step-son. In addition, Robert created a pirate adventure story to accompany the drawing telling the tale of a young spirit-filled boy named Jim Hawkins who travels the sea in search for the treasure formally owned by a devastating pirate called Flint, who puts Blackbeard to shame. He joins a crew of men that sail on a ship called the Hispaniola, but soon later figures out that most of the crew are a band of pirates, led by a man called Long John Silver, that plan to take over the ‘good-men’ on the ship and claim the treasure for themselves. No force strong enough to compare to the pirate’s scary image Jim is found caught between the world of chaos and the world of order, and must grow in character if he wants to save not only his friends on the ship, but himself as well. In the end, Jim’s brave and noble actions, along with the help of his friends they save the day and overrule the pirates. As they claim the treasure for themselves, the book ends with one pirate escaping and stealing some of the treasure, and Jim Hawkins scarred for life, never wanting to travel sea again, over the events that have unfolded over the past days.
An adventure novel, such as Treasure Island, usually does not have any themes. Rather the story of a quest and the common characteristics of quest stories like the hero’s journey, often to a mysterious place of unknown descent, usually in pursuit of treasure, etc. While Treasure Island no doubt fits this description it is not to say that there are no morals or lessons that could be taught. Robert Louis Stevenson, whether inadvertently or purposely, has many themes to portray. One of the most predominant themes is Chaos vs. Order, which can be demonstrated throughout the whole text. For instance, “I have only one thing to say to you, sir … if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!” (Stevenson 1.8) This conversation between Dr. Livesey and Billy Bones in Chapter 1 is an early portrayal of the conflict between the World of Order, represented by Dr. Livesey vs. the World of Chaos, represented by Bill Bones; a pirate. Billy, even though is an outsider to the inn and to the general area he holds usurped power for himself, as he does not pay the money he owes for his stay at the inn and terrorizes other guests just by slamming the table. This type of power is considered insulting to the civilized world as it provokes the values that embody the World of Order. However, many characters such as Jim are fascinated by the unknown power the pirates hold and admire to be like them. Robert Louis Stevenson subconsciously plays with the reader’s mind as one of the inevitable questions is ‘as a reader which character are you?’ a character of order or chaos. While the characters in the text seem to favor the world of chaos, Robert adds contracting opinions to the text suggesting that the World of Order rank superior. One of which being right after the event I had previously explained is when Billy attempts to attack Dr. Livesey in return for insulting his manner, but Dr. Livesey retorts with saying “If you do not put that knife this instant in your pocket, I promise, upon my honour, you shall hang at next assizes.” (Stevenson, 1.8) Dr. Livesey demonstrates his calm authority and controls Billy’s rowdy behavior. Furthermore suggesting that ‘Good’ will always prevail in which it does as just like most adventure stories, no matter how impossible the challenge at hand, good will find a way on top. However, while both worlds seemingly have accurate points that could contribute to which one is better, we learn later on in the text that both the doctor’s and pirate’s world are flawed. Both lead to inevitable inspiration and destruction.
So as you just saw, that was my video/film trailer. While it is hard to understand why I have chosen some of the images in the trailer as you have not read the book, I will do a brief explanation of my reasoning for it. One of the common elements I put in my trailer was the Coming of Age theme, expressed through the multiple images of Jim Hawkins. Each image when in order express Jim’s growing character and personality throughout the story; with the beginning, of him starting out as a young child and the end with him looking as a young man. While obviously, he does not grow this much physically in the story the images are a symbolic meaning to the values he has learned throughout his adventure making him essentially a young man. Another symbol used in the trailer was the Black Dot on a piece of paper. Used by the pirates in the story, the basic meaning of the black spot was when pirates wanted to depose their leader. They would burn a piece of paper creating a black spot and give it to their leader, symbolizing that they have a brief period of time until their authority is no longer valid. This symbol suggests that while pirates do live in a lawless and criminal world, they do have forms of order and control. However, at the same time, it also represents disorder and destruction, as it signals discontent and outrage and could very much lead to violence. And while there are many more literary techniques used it is important to know the filmic techniques as well. Although most of the film trailer is a bunch of stills and music, there are still ways that filmic techniques were demonstrated throughout the trailer. One common example was the use of titles in between images to establish a connection between the audience and the trailer. Furthermore, catching the audience’s eye and hopefully looking appealing to watch. For example the slide “Dream of Gold” it appeals to the average watcher’s dream, of being rich, but also creates a connection to the characters in the story as well. Both the characters and the audience share the same goal, thus grabbing the audience’s attention. Another media technique used was the use of transitions between each slide. Most of the film transitions were specifically picked to convey the tone or mood of the story. One example was the transitions between the “Risk It All” section. Each transition was purposely selected to set the intense and dangerous tone of the story, in addition, the intrigued and ecstatic mood as well. Essentially, in summary, the media / filmic techniques used in the trailer were used to grab the audience’s attention and convey the tone and mood of the story.
After reading the book the first time it could easily be said that the text has a very important message that should be heard by all kids. Treasure Island, while it is an adventure novel it also has the perfect story of a boy growing up, and showing increasing levels of maturity, confidence, and cleverness. Although the book uses a lot of different forms of language, like the speech of pirates, and is sometimes troublesome to comprehend it offers valuable insight on how we should deal with situations that are hard to deal with; not just for kids but for all ages. One common example is when Jim’s mother faints and he, with his quick wit, decides to carry his mother away from the inn towards a bridge where they remain safe, away from the incoming pirates and imminent death if they were caught. This is an early example of Jim’s maturity and growing character. Furthermore, Jim finds himself not only growing in intelligence but in many other ways such as security and bravery. As Jim kills Israel Hands, a pirate, he states. “The process was so slow and laborious that, in my new-found security, I laughed aloud.” (Stevenson, 26.168) Jim finds himself acting with strength and for once in his life not governed by fear. It is clear that Jim is no longer controlled or influenced by the world of pirates, but rather than his own ambitions; being the treasure. In short, Robert Stevenson uses Jim Hawkins as a way to convey the theme of Coming of Age and the battle of Chaos vs. Order to tell an excellent story for all ages. While the story is easy to read it tells an influential message that should never be forgotten.
“BIOGRAPHY OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.” Victorian Science Fiction, UVM Blogs, blog.uvm.edu/scalexan-vsf/the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/biography-of-robert-lewis-stevenson/.