By Chet Yarbrough
By: Robert Louis Stevenson
Narrated by Philip Glenister, Daniel Mays, Catherine Tate, Owen Teale
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894, Author died at Age of 44)
Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” is a curious piece of literature that resonates with 21st century calumny. Humans are not perfect. There is a bit of Stevenson’s “Long John Silver” in everyone.
For those unfamiliar with Stevenson’s tale, “Long John Silver” is a pirate who hoodwinks a young boy, a crew of sailors, a doctor, a professional ship’s Captain, and a few others on a voyage to recapture a treasure. Silver has the “gift of gab”; salted with a lifetime of experience in getting what he wants.
What strikes one about Silver’s character is his ability to see things as they are and change his behavior to suit the circumstance. If a lie suits his purpose, he lies. If the truth suits his purpose, he tells the truth. What he lacks is morality.
Silver is a narcissist. He has an egoistic admiration of himself that includes self-flattery, arrogance, and a sharp tongue that cuts like a blade. When confronted with one whom Silver disagrees, he cajoles, belittles, or verbally (sometimes physically) attacks his opposition.
If disagreeing, belittling, and cajoling fail, a narcissist changes the focus of attention with a manufactured distraction.
Putting aside Silver’s narcissistic amorality, he understands a truth about human beings. Silver represents belief that money, power, and prestige rule the high seas and land. With the skill of a practiced politician, Silver manipulates events to conform to plan.
The curious piece of Stevenson’s story is Silver’s prediction that Ben Gunn, a stranded buccaneer on Treasure Island, would be cheated out of a share of the treasure even though he played a major part in the treasure hunters’ success.
Gunn is an anti-hero who has lost his mind because of his isolation on the island. Gunn is like a modern-day homeless man abandoned by society.
Silver’s plan is to capture the wealth of a buried treasure. Though not entirely successful, he captures a share of the booty by co-opting Jim Hawkins, a cabin boy with a yearning for the sea. In the end, Silver escapes the clutches of British authorities who would have convicted him for mutiny, and possibly, attempted murder.
What Silver points out is that the doctor, ship’s captain, and other survivors of “Treasure Island”, will cheat Gunn of his fair share. Gunn is given 1000 Sovereigns (English pounds) and the rest (hundreds of thousands per person) is distributed to the surviving voyagers. Silver infers all human beings are pirates.
Some pirates wear suits, speak the King’s English, and live in the city; a Pogo version of “We have met the enemy-of-the-people and he is us.”