by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Exploration Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Now, that bird," [Long John Silver] would say, "is, maybe, two hundred years old, Hawkins--they live forever mostly; and if anybody's seen more wickedness, it must be the devil himself. She's sailed with England, the great Cap'n England, the pirate. She's been at Madagascar, and at Malabar, and Surinam, and Providence, and Portobello. She was at the fishing up of the wrecked plate ships. It's there she learned 'Pieces of eight,' and little wonder; three hundred and fifty thousand of 'em, Hawkins! She was at the boarding of the viceroy of the Indies out of Goa, she was; and to look at her you would think she was a babby. But you smelt powder--didn't you, cap'n?" (10.18)
Here, the tales Long John Silver is spinning are all about his delightful parrot, Captain Flint. Silver uses his tales of derring-do to keep Jim Hawkins interested and to persuade Jim to sympathize with him. It's interesting, though: these tales are meant to distract and intrigue Jim, but they work on us, too. It's partly Long John Silver's gift with language that makes him so appealing to the reader, no matter the terrible things he does over the course of the novel.
There was not a breath of air moving, nor a sound but that of the surf booming half a mile away along the beaches and against the rocks outside. A peculiar stagnant smell hung over the anchorage--a smell of sodden leaves and rotting tree trunks. I observed the doctor sniffing and sniffing, like someone tasting a bad egg.
"I don't know about treasure," he said, "but I'll stake my wig there's fever here." (13.10-12)
According to 18th century medicine, fever is mostly caused by bad air, hence Doctor Livesey's concerns. There is foreshadowing here in the fact that the first glimpse of the island is automatically associated with sickness. It's as though the treasure itself were making people sick – certainly, it's going to make people crazy. The "fever" the doctor smells could just as easily be gold fever, which will drive nearly everyone on the island to madness and murder before the novel ends.
I now felt for the first time the joy of exploration. The isle was uninhabited; my shipmates I had left behind, and nothing lived in front of me but dumb brutes and fowls. I turned hither and thither among the trees. Here and there were flowering plants, unknown to me; here and there I saw snakes, and one raised his head from a ledge of rock and hissed at me with a noise not unlike the spinning of a top. Little did I suppose that he was a deadly enemy and that the noise was the famous rattle. (14.3)
The only time Jim seems to really be having fun on the trip is when he's off by himself in the forest. We're also intrigued that this is one of the few times when the island appears benign and pleasant. But much like Long John Silver, that appearance is deceptive. Being from England, Jim doesn't realize that the snakes he observes are rattlesnakes, a "deadly enemy." The island's geography is intimately tied to the plot's development – check out our section on "Setting" for further reflections on this.