Treasure Island is written using a first person narrative, which has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages consist of being able to experience how the character narrating feels, in this case we get to learn a lot about Jim Hawkins and how he feels throughout the novel just because he is the narrator of the novel. However, when Jim decides stow away in one of the boats heading for the shore R.L. Stevenson is faced with a problem in that he cannot let the reader know what is happening on board the Hispaniola. \
Stevenson finds a way around this problem by swapping the narrator to Doctor Livesey. This seems to sort out the problem for a while but if the reader was reading the novel at a fast pace then he might not read the chapter headings and know that the narrator has changed and therefore get confused with what’s happening in the story and where the characters are.
I think that R.L. Stevenson knew that this problem would occur somewhere in the novel and anticipated it, he may have even planned it. But he still chose to use the first person narrative, although it is not always the easiest narrative to follow as “I” and “we” are used which often makes it hard to distinguish who “I” and “we” are, and who the speech is being directed at. However, I believe Stevenson chose this narrative as it makes it easier to let the reader know and understand the feelings of the character that is narrating the novel at any time in the novel.
R.L. Stevenson describes the island very well throughout the novel by using all of the senses of a human being:
Sight – “The appearance of the island when I came on
deck next morning was altogether changed.”
Sound – “and the whole ship creaking and groaning,”
Taste – “like someone tasting a bad egg.”
Smell – “a smell of sodden leaves and rotting tree trunks.”
Touch – “The Hispaniola was rolling scuppers under in the
The quotation I chose for sight was one of the many I could have used as part three of Treasure Island has many references to sight and how things look.
Although there is not nearly as many R.L. Stevenson still makes a point of describing the sounds that are a part of the island and boat, like the creaking of the boat, and the sounds that the birds make.
Chapter thirteen contains only one reference to taste and that is in the form of a simile. The effect this has is that most people know or can at least guess what a bad egg tastes like which gives the reader a good idea of how bad the island smelt.
The chapter also has only one reference to smell which can also give the reader a good idea of how he island smelt, giving them quite a clear image of the island in their mind’s eye.
Explaining how movement and how something feels is a difficult task to achieve when writing a novel, however I feel that R.L. Stevenson manages to accomplish this quite well. Describing how the boat was rolling gently in the water, how the temperature was very hot and describing how Jim had to hold on because he felt as though everything was spinning around him.
Part of the tension of Treasure Island is built up at the end of part one when Dr. Livesey tells Squire Trelawney that he is afraid that the Squire will tell someone what the voyage is about and that there is treasure involved,
“‘There’s only one man I’m afraid of.’
`And who’s that?’ cried the squire. `Name the dog, sir!’
`You,’ replied the doctor; `for you cannot hold your tongue.'”
The feeling this gives to the reader is one of untrustworthiness and a lack of faithfulness between friends which may cause the reader to become somewhat tense as there is a part of them that knows what is going to happen but they are not completely sure what or when it is going to happen.
And when Jim and the doctor receive a letter from the squire it brings the doctor’s fears to light as the letter he receives from the squire says that the squire told every man, woman and child that he met, and that he had hired a man with one leg.
At this news, the reader may again feel tension in them, as they do not know what the people the squire told will do or if the man with one leg is the same person that Billy Bones was so scared of.
Personally, I think that there are five reasons that this novel is so widely known and read; Firstly the book appeals to people of all ages, it has something that appeals to everyone that can read. Secondly, R.L. Stevenson’s choice of narrative, it lets the reader know exactly how the character narrating feels, making you feel like apart of the novel. Thirdly, The way in which R.L. Stevenson chose to describe the island and everything surrounding it, almost making the Island a character.
Fourthly, the amount of tension that is built up throughout the novel is huge; some readers might find the book hard to put down because of the tension as they feel they need to know what will happen next. Lastly, R.L. Stevenson thought up ideas about the setting, story, and narrative issues for Treasure Island himself, instead of doing what a lot of writers might do which is to take ideas from other people, modify them a bit, and then pass them off as their own. Due to this Treasure Island is unpredictable and lively, yet it is as easy to follow as a nursery book.
I found Treasure Island to be quite an enjoyable book even though I do not usually read adventure novels.