While both the parties have the same motto, how one executes his plan draws the line between good and evil. The author’s choice of characters ranges from a squire, to a doctor, to a captain, to pirates, to a young boy of sixteen.
Jim Hawkins, a young boy and the son of an innkeeper near Bristol, is the young protagonist and narrator of ‘Treasure Island‘. Readers share their feelings and perceptions through the story. Although he acts impulsive and impetuous throughout the novel, Jim exhibits remarkable courage and heroism, with his increasing sensitivity and wisdom. As a result, he transforms from an enthusiastic young boy to a young man who is determined to take courageous decisions, often very risky actions.
His impulsive actions start with getting the maps from Billy’s chest to uncovering the truth about the pirates and their plan for mutiny, to finding Ben Gunn and enlisting him in their cause, to making a deal with Long Silver, to stealing the Hispaniola to returning it to the captain on time to save themselves. Jim returns home to write the story and is haunted by Long John Silver and his parrot in his dreams long after his return from Treasure Island.
Billy Bones is an old seaman who comes to stay at Admiral Benbow, where Jim lives with his parents. He is the first pirate Jim meets in the book with a ragged, scarred appearance with a ponytail and a cut on his cheek. In the beginning, he hires Jim to be on the lookout for a one-legged man. Later, it turns out that the one-legged man is Long John Silver, who is another pirate who worked with Flint.
Other pirates were on the lookout for him as he held the treasure map to Flint’s treasures, which sparks the whole story. Despite his dubious behavior and gruff refusal to pay his hotel bills, Jim is genuinely sad when he passes away at the end of the first part of the book
Squire John Trelawney is a good-natured, honest nobleman and a wealthy landowner. He is described as a tall man, over six feet high, and plump in proportion with “a bluff, rough-and-ready face,” from his long travels. Jim Hawkins, the protagonist of the novel, finds recourse in him when the pirates were in search of him for the treasure map.
The moment he acquires the map, his enthusiasm increases over his desire for adventure. His deep passion for going to sea sets him to action. Still, his inability to keep a secret, despite his promise to be “as silent as the grave”, lands him and his companions in trouble. In turn, he was tricked into hiring Long John Silver and his fellow pirates as crew members. His best quality, as Jim describes, lies in his ability to shoot straight. Thus, he is given the jobs that require the best shot.
Dr David Livesey is both the local doctor and district magistrate. He is wise, practical, and a great inspiration to Jim. In the novel, he is seen as intelligent, brave, and cool-headed that helps him to win against his adversaries. Livesey exhibits common sense and rational thought, which gives him credit as a hero, for without him, the whole expedition would have been a disaster.
Devoted to his profession, he even treats wounded and ill pirates, even though they are enemies. His characteristics steady, modest virtues of everyday life represent him in contrast to his friend, Squire Trelawney, with his fantasy, dream, or adventure.
Captain Alexander Smollett is the captain of Hispaniola, hired by Squire Trelawney on their voyage to Treasure Island. He is experienced, honest, and devoted to duty. At the same time, he is persistent and temperamental, which often creates disagreement with other characters. Although a man of few words, he rightly suspects the crew Trelawney has hired. He is very professional and expects his order to be obeyed. He believes in rules to an extent where he admonishes Jim for his disobedience. At one point, he even tells him that he never wishes to sail with him again.
During the voyage to Treasure Island, Captain Smollett manages the ship and crew with great skill and brings the Hispaniola safely within sight of Treasure Island. Smollett is competent and reliable. Thus, like Livesey, he too becomes an inspirational figure for Jim.
Long John Silver
Long John Silver is a one-legged seaman, introduced as the cook for the voyage to Treasure Island. Later, it turns out that he is the one-legged man Billy Bones feared and the major antagonist in the novel. Unbeknownst to Stevenson, he had made a prototype for a pirate through Long John Silver. He was one of the Flints’ important pirates. He led other pirates during the voyage to Treasure Island. He proved to be a smart and crooked pirate in the novel.
Despite missing a leg, he demonstrates impressive physical and emotional strength. Despite being a cunning, fickle, greedy, and self-seeking personality, he acts genuine and kind towards Jim. Towards the end of the novel, he leaves the ship with his share of gold without informing anyone.
Black dog is the second pirate from Flint’s crew Jim meets in the novel. He visits Billy and enquires him of the map, and threatens to give a black spot. When Billy attacks, he flees, but he is the cause for the nightmarish consequences Jim has to undergo.
Ben Gunn, a marooned pirate by Flint’s pirate crew, three years before Jim and his companions visit Treasure Island. When Jim meets him for the first time, it took him some time to recognize that Ben is nothing but a human being.
His condition could be the result of his solitude on the island. He appears like a ghost, ”clothed with tatters of old ship’s canvas and old sea-cloth, and this extraordinary patchwork was all held together by a system of the most various and incongruous fastenings, brass buttons, bits of stick, and loops of tarry gaskin [hose].” He willingly helps Jim and Dr Livesey in bringing back the gold. Also, he agrees to mend his ways when he accompanies them on their journey back.
A blind man with a formidable appearance presents Billy with a black spot. Unfortunately, “poor pew”, as he calls himself, dies accidentally when he tries to flee from Admiral Benbow.
Israel Hands is one of the trusted pirates of Long John Silver. Though described as Captain Flint’s gunner, he works as Hispaniola’s coxswain. He is one of two guards deposited by Silver on the ship when the other pirates are ashore. In the novel, he symbolizes the reckless behavior of all the pirates. When he was expected to be vigilant, he gets drunk and kills his fellow pirate. The other guard and lies in a drunken stupor while the ship drifts aimlessly.
Tom Redruth is one of the servants of Squire Trelawney, accompanies him on the ship. He is a large man with a dependable nature and does a lot of the heavy lifting. However, he was killed during the fight with the pirates and buried on the island.
Mr and Mrs Hawkins
Mr and Mrs Hawkins, parents of Jim, run Admiral Benbow. Mrs Hawkins in the novel is projected as a strong and honest woman. She accompanies Jim to get the money from Bill, even though there were no one to witness, she takes only what was hers.
Richard Joyce, and John Hunter
Like Tom Redruth, Richard Joyce, and John Hunter are servants of Squire Trelawney, who accompany him on the voyage to Treasure Island.
In the novel, R.L. Stevenson has used some more minor characters who plays a less significant role. Some honest seamen like Mr Arrow, Abraham Gray, Tom, Alan travel along with the pirates’ Job Anderson, Tom Morgan, George Merry, O’Brien, Dick, and nine more unnamed pirates.