"Treasure Island", a four hour miniseries, is presented in its entirety tonight on Syfy, beginning at 7 PM!
LONG JOHN SILVER
Robert Louis Stephenson
AS SEEN IN:
Long John Silver is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of the novel "Treasure Island", by Robert Louis Stevenson.
In "Treasure Island", Long John Silver is a pirate who was quartermaster under the notorious Captain Flint. Long John Silver had a pet parrot called Captain Flint, often seen sitting on his shoulder where she would nibble on seeds. A quartermaster on a pirate ship ranked higher than any officer except the captain himself, and could veto the captain's decisions whenever the ship was not in a battle. The quartermaster was elected by the crew and one of his tasks was to lead the boarding party from the quarterdeck during boarding attacks.
Silver claims to have served in the Royal Navy and lost his leg under "the immortal Hawke". His left leg was cut off close by the hip, and under the left shoulder he 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." He claims to have been the only man whom Flint ever feared.
Like many of Stevenson's characters, there is more than a modicum of duality in the character; ostensibly Silver is a hardworking and likeable seaman, and it is only as the plot unfolds that his villainous nature is gradually revealed. His relationship with Jim Hawkins, the novel's protagonist, is interesting, as he serves as a mentor and eventually father-figure to Jim, creating much shock and emotion when it is discovered that he is in charge of the mutiny, and especially when Jim must confront and fight him later on.
Although willing to change sides at any time in the interests of his own survival, Silver has compensating virtues: he is wise enough to pay attention to money management, in contrast to the spendthrift ways of most pirates, and is physically courageous despite his disability; for instance, when Flint's cache is found to be empty, he coolly stands his ground against five grown men despite having only Hawkins to back him.
When Silver escapes at the end of the novel, he takes "three or four hundred guineas" of the treasure with him, thus becoming one of only two former members of Captain Flint's crew to get his hands on a portion of the recovered treasure; a separate cache of bar silver is apparently left on the island. (The repentant maroonee Ben Gunn is the other, but he spends all 1,000 pounds in nineteen days.)
Jim's own ambivalence towards Silver is reflected in the last chapter, when he speculates that the old pirate must have settled down in comfortable retirement: "It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his chances of comfort in another world are very small."