by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island Theme of Exploration
This novel began with a map, so it certainly is concerned with charting new places and things. However, anyone looking for a gung-ho celebration of exploration will be disappointed with Treasure Island. While leaving his home is what permits Jim to see the world, it also means living in constant danger. Even Jim seems unsure whether leaving home was a foolish thing to do, since he ends his narration with an oath that, "Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island" (34.26). If Jim finds exploration so hazardous, maybe we should leave the travel and adventuring to him; we'll just stay home and read about it.
Questions About Exploration
- Why might Stevenson end his novel with Jim's nightmares about the island? Does this serve as a warning against the dangers of exploration? What is the novel's attitude toward exploration and adventure?
- What are some of the advantages of setting Treasure Island in a fictional place? How does Stevenson evoke the layout and feel of the island through language?
- Do some parts of the island appear more welcoming than others? Why?
Chew on This
Jim's nightmares about Treasure Island at the end of the book make exploration of new places seem even more intense and exciting.
By setting Treasure Island in a fictional space, Stevenson can force the geography of the island to evolve along with changing plot lines.