Captain Alexander Smollett
|Captain Alexander Smollett|
|Treasure Island character|
Captain Smollet Defies the Mutineers illustration by N. C. Wyeth for 1911 edition.
|Created by||Robert Louis Stevenson's|
Captain Alexander Smollett is the captain of the schooner Hispaniola in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. He plays an important part in disciplining the main characters on the ship as the story progresses, and helps the protagonists survive against the pirates later on.
He first appears to the reader as a strict, bitter man who finds fault with everything and is never satisfied. However, he quickly reveals that not all is well aboard the ship, and his first conversation with Jim Hawkins, Dr. Livesey, and Squire Trelawney foreshadows the eventual mutiny of many of the Hispaniola's members under the leadership of Long John Silver, a cunning and wealthy one-legged pirate. When the Hispaniola finally reaches its destination and the pirates rebel, he organizes the faithful crew's flight from the Hispaniola onto the shores of Treasure Island, and helps in gaining a stockade on the island. The next day, he attempts to negotiate with 'Captain' Long John Silver, but the negotiations fail due to the arrogance of Silver and the stubbornness of Smollett. (Indeed, Smollett admits that he has goaded Silver on purpose, reasoning that battle is probably inevitable and might as well be fought sooner rather than later, while they are alert and fresh.) As a result, Silver storms off in a rage, and Smollett is left to organize the defence of the stockade. In the battle of the stockade, he is seriously wounded by two bullets, though neither incapacitates him, and he disappears from the story for the most part. In the end, he and the faithful crew sail back to Bristol laden with treasure, and he retires from sea life, exhausted by the whole affair.
Captain Smollett's role in the story is crucial, but he is usually remembered for his temperamental personality. He is obsessed with duty and expects all his orders to be followed to the letter. When the stockade's defences break down during his negotiations with Silver, he explodes, venting his rage on the Doctor and Squire Trelawney for abandoning their stations to watch the negotiations. Yet he doesn't fail to reward those who perform well, and praises Abraham Gray, a mutineer who defects to their side, for staying at his post dutifully.
In the 1988 Soviet screening of the Treasure Island, Captain Smollett (not assigned a first name in the cartoon) was portrayed as a light hearted humorous take on Soviet military ranks, with obsessive personality that, on one hand, really demanded his orders to be followed to the letter - but, on the other hand, that was more loyal than anyone else to the cause and the letter of the law (since the cartoon omitted a large part of Treasure Island events to fit into the format, Captain Smollett became a lot more one-dimensional, though more colourful).
In the 1996 Disney film Muppet Treasure Island, this character was renamed Captain Abraham Smollett (Kermit the Frog) by Brian Henson and the scriptwriters, in which he is rewritten as easy-going and fair in deference to Kermit's amiable character.
- Stevenson, p.52-57, Smollett says, "I'll have no favourites on my ship!"
- Stevenson, p. 124 "My lads," said he, "I've given Silver a broadside. I pitched it in red-hot on purpose; and before the hour's out, as he said, we shall be boarded. We're outnumbered, I needn't tell you that, but we fight in shelter; and a minute ago I should have said we fought with discipline. I've no manner of doubt that we can drub them, if you choose."
- Stevenson, p.172, Silver says, "'Dooty is dooty,' says he, and right he is."
- Stevenson, p.124, Smollett says, "Mr. Trelawney, I'm surprised at you, sir. Doctor, I thought you had worn the king's coat!"
- Stevenson, p.124, Smollett says, "Gray, I'll put your name in the log; you've stood by your duty like a seaman."
- Stevenson, Robert Louis (1883) Treasure Island. ISBN 1-4027-1457-2