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Kidnapped

Kidnapped

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Morality and Ethics Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

And presently [Hoseason] came marching back towards the house, with no mark of a sailor's clumsiness, but carrying his fine, tall figure with a manly bearing, and still with the same sober, grave expression on his face. I wondered if it was possible that Ransome's stories could be true, and half disbelieved them; they fitted so ill with the man's looks. But indeed, he was neither so good as I supposed him, nor quite so bad as Ransome did; for, in fact, he was two men, and left the better one behind as soon as he set foot on board his vessel. (6.25)

"In fact, he was two men": that sounds a lot like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to us. It's as though, for Captain Hoseason, the potion that brings out his bad side is the ship he loves so much, the Covenant. Once he's on the sea, he seems to feel that he's free of moral obligations, while on land he must be "sober" and "grave."

Quote #2

I heard a gun fire, and supposed the storm had proved too strong for us, and we were firing signals of distress. The thought of deliverance, even by death in the deep sea, was welcome to me. Yet it was no such matter; but (as I was afterwards told) a common habit of the captain's, which I here set down to show that even the worst man may have his kindlier side. We were then passing, it appeared, within some miles of Dysart, where the brig was built, and where old Mrs. Hoseason, the captain's mother, had come some years before to live; and whether outward or inward bound, the Covenant was never suffered to go by that place by day, without a gun fired and colours shown. (7.3)

Davie does like to complicate his moral judgments. Even after Hoseason has kidnapped him and locked him in the ship's hold, he still has to admit that the guy really loves his mother. We have to wonder, why does Stevenson include these particular tidbits of redeeming information? Does his love for his mother in some way make up for his violence against Davie? Or does it just reinforce his hypocrisy? What do these details make you think of Hoseason's character?

Quote #3

No class of man is altogether bad, but each has its own faults and virtues; and these shipmates of mine were no exception to the rule. Rough they were, sure enough; and bad, I suppose; but they had many virtues. They were kind when it occurred to them, simple even beyond the simplicity of a country lad like me, and had some glimmerings of honesty. (7.29)

It's kind of odd that Davie has such a prejudice against sailors when Stevenson traveled so much and made such a profit off Treasure Island. When he calls these a "class" of men, does Davie mean that they're all working-class? Or is "sailor" a particular kind of group for him, with "its own faults and virtues"?

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