Michael J. Cummings...©
year is 1751. The place is Essendean, Scotland. Seventeen-year-old David
Balfour decides to strike out on his own nineteen days after the death
of his father, Alexander Balfour. David's mother preceded his father in
death. As David heads down the road on foot, a local minister~ez_mdash~Mr. Campbell~ez_mdash~stops
him and gives him a letter David~ez_rsquo~s father had entrusted to Campbell. The
young man is to take it to the House of Shaws at Cramond, near Edinburgh
(pronounced ED in bur uh or ED in bur oh), and present it
to Ebenezer Balfour, an uncle David has never met.
minister also tells David that his father belonged to the House of Shaws,
once ~ez_ldquo~an ancient, honest, reputable house,~ez_rdquo~ the minister says, but ~ez_ldquo~in
these latter days decayed.~ez_rdquo~ The minister gives David parting gifts:
a Bible, a shilling, and a recipe for making a remedy that will help David
recover from illnesses or injuries.
noon on the second day of his journey, he reaches the outskirts of Edinburgh
and asks several people directions to the House of Shaws. But each one
looks at him strangely, as if he had spoken forbidden words; none gives
him the information he seeks. Next, he asks directions of a man driving
a cart. The man says, ~ez_ldquo~If ye'll take a word from me, ye'll keep clear of
the Shaws.~ez_rdquo~ Finally, when he asks a ~ez_ldquo~dark, sour-looking woman~ez_rdquo~ named Jennet
Clouston for directions, she points to a building in a valley far
in the distance, saying, "Blood built it; blood stopped the building of
it; blood shall bring it down.~ez_rdquo~Later
in the novel, the reader learns that Ebenezer Balfour had run her out of
a long walk over several hours, David nears the house, a run-down building,
partly unfinished, with unglazed windows and bats flitting about. It is
dusk. Inside, a small fire barely glimmers. David knocks, waits, then knocks
again. Ebenezer Balfour pokes a blunderbuss out of a window and greets
David gruffly. When David identifies himself, Ebenezer admits him into
the forbidding mansion, where mice and spiders have free run. Ebenezer
is a strange, eccentric man who, though well off as the owner of the Shaws
estate, prefers simple porridge to eat. Except for the glow in the fireplace,
the house is dark, for Ebenezer keeps no lanterns because of his uncommon
fear of setting the house on fire.
spends the night in a pitch-black bedroom, the door of which Ebenezer locked
before he retired.In
the morning, over a breakfast of porridge and beer, Ebenezer tells David,
Ye've come to the right
bit when ye came to your uncle Ebenezer. I've a great notion of the family,
and I mean to do the right by you; but
while I'm taking a bit think to mysel' of what's the best thing toput you
to~ez_ndash~whether the law, or the meenistry, or maybe the army, whilkis what boys
are fondest of~ez_mdash~I wouldnae like the Balfours to be humbledbefore a wheen
Hieland Campbells, and I'll ask you to keep your tongue within
your teeth. Nae letters; nae messages; no kind of word toonybody; or else~ez_mdash~there's
no manner of reason to suppose you mean anything but well by me. For all
that, I would have you to know that Ihave
a pride of my own. It was by no will of mine that I came seekingyou; and
if you show me your door again, I'll take you at the word."
a gesture of goodwill toward his nephew, Ebenezer gives him 37 gold guineas~ez_mdash~a
considerable sum~ez_mdash~then tells him he will have chores for him to do around
the house. The first, he says, is to fetch a chest from the top floor of
a square tower that is part of the house. In the chest are documents. He
hands David a key to the door of the room containing the chest. Because
there are no lanterns to light his way up the dark stone stairs, David
climbs them carefully, extending a foot to test each step before placing
his full weight on it. Before he reaches the top, he tests for the next
step and discovers only emptiness. The stairs abruptly end. Had he been
less careful, he would have fallen to his death. David now realizes that
his uncle wanted him to die.
David returns and enters the kitchen, Ebenezer, apparently surprised to
see David still alive, falls to the floor in a fit and turns blue. He asks
David for a phial from a cupboard, and David produces it. In a while, Ebenezer,
who has a heart ailment, recovers and David takes him to his room and locks
the morning, David releases his ~ez_ldquo~prisoner~ez_rdquo~ and, at the breakfast table,
says, "You took me for a country Johnnie Raw, with no more mother-wit or
courage than a porridge-stick. I took you for a good man, or no worse than
others at the least. It seems we were both wrong. What cause you have to
fear me, to cheat me, and to attempt my life~ez_ndash~"
mumbles something about a joke, then says he will explain everything after
breakfast. Meanwhile, a visitor arrives, a boy named Ransome with a message
for Ebenezer from Elias Hoseason, the captain of a ship~ez_ndash~The Covenant~ez_ndash~who
wants to see Ebenezer at the Queen~ez_rsquo~s Ferry Inn in Queensferry about business.
Ebenezer asks David to go along, telling him he will explain matters to
him before a respected lawyer, Rankeillor, who will verify Ebenezer~ez_rsquo~s story.
David accompanies him.
the inn, Ebenezer and Hoseason do business in the latter~ez_rsquo~s room while David
takes a walk. When he returns, he sits at a table in front of the inn and
has an ale with Ransome, who serves as cabin boy on Hoseason~ez_rsquo~s ship. While
talking with the innkeeper, David learns that Ebenezer illegally gained
control of the House of Shaws from his brother, Alexander Balfour (David's
father). Because Alexander was the older brother~ez_ndash~not the younger, as Ebenezer
had led David to believe~ez_ndash~he was the rightful heir of the estate. Upon his
death, the estate should have passed to David.
Ebenezer and Hoseason conclude their business, David accepts the captain~ez_rsquo~s
invitation to row out with him to the Covenant for a drink and a
short tour. Ebenezer goes along. But shortly after David steps aboard,
crewmen take seize him and knock him unconscious while Ebenezer rows back
awakens later in great pain, bound hand and foot in darkness. He has been
kidnapped. He learns later that his uncle made a deal with Hoseason to
sell David into slavery in America, in the Carolinas. After David becomes
ill, the crew removes him to new, more comfortable surroundings in the
forecastle. Meanwhile, the cabin boy, Ransome, suffers a brutal beating
from the chief officer, Mr. Shuan, for bringing him a dirty pannikin (metal
cup). Ransome had already been in poor health because of the strong drink
he would receive but could not abide. Now, he ~ez_ldquo~was as white as wax, and
had a look upon [his face] like a dreadful smile.~ez_rdquo~ Not long afterward,
he dies.~ez_rdquo~ David is assigned to take over Ransome~ez_rsquo~s duty as cabin
boy in the roundhouse, above the decks, where the captain and two mates~ez_ndash~Mr.
Riach and Mr. Shuan~ez_ndash~sleep and eat. Within and beneath the cabin are storehouses
for food, firearms, and powder.
few days later, the Covenant collides with and sinks a smaller vessel
bound for France, but there is a survivor, a Highland Scotsman named Alan
Breck Stewart. When he climbs aboard, he carries a considerable sum of
money which he is to give to a Highland chieftain whose lands the English
crown expropriated. Stewart and the chieftain are Jacobites, supporters
of the descendants of James II, a Catholic king of England, Scotland, and
Ireland from 1655 to 1688. When tensions between Catholics and Protestants
increased, James was overthrown in 1688 and replaced by William of Orange.
James fled to France, where he died in 1701. However, the Catholic Jacobite
cause did not die, and even in 1751 it remains alive and opposed to King
George III, the current English monarch. Many Jacobites, including Alan
Breck Stewart and the Highland chieftain, had taken refuge in friendly
France. However, Stewart and others returned to Scotland from time to time
to collect money to support the cause and its exiled leaders.
the dinner table in the round-house, Stewart offers to give Hoseason 60
guineas if the captain will drop him off at Linnhe Loch, Scotland, and
Hoseason agrees. They shake hands and Hoseason leaves Stewart to his meal.
Later, David overhears Hoseason and Mr. Riach plotting to kill Stewart
and take all his money. However, because all the weapons are in the round-house,
Hoseason orders David to sneak guns and powder out under Stewart~ez_rsquo~s nose,
promising to give David a share of Stewart~ez_rsquo~s money.
once inside, David warns Alan and agrees to join him in a fight for their
lives. When Hoseason opens the door, Stewart draws a sword against him.
Hoseason closes the door. Moments later, crewmen rush in. Stewart, an expert
swordsman, runs several men through while David holds his own with a pistol.
Stewart seems to relish the fight and, at the moment of victory, sings
a song. He parleys with the captain, who speaks through a window, and they
reach a truce.
the evening of the following day, the ship enters waters off the western
coast of Scotland, near the Island of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. There,
it encounters miles of treacherous reefs. David recalls that ~ez_ldquo~the tide
caught the brig, and threw the wind out of her sails. She came round into
the wind like a top, and the nextmoment
struck [a] reef.~ez_rdquo~The
heaving ship casts David into the sea, where he clings to a spar and makes
it to the shore of a tiny island. The ship sinks.
tired, hungry, alone~ez_ndash~not knowing whether Stewart survived~ez_ndash~David heads eastward,
satisfying his hunger with shellfish along the coast. After the tide runs
low, he crosses on steppingstones from the small island to the Island of
Mull. When he asks an old man whether he has seen someone fitting Stewart~ez_rsquo~s
description, the man replies that several men passed by wearing sailors~ez_rsquo~
trousers (the crewmen) and another in breeches and stockings (Stewart in
French garb). Moreover, the old man says, Stewart left word that he was
headed toward ~ez_ldquo~his country~ez_rdquo~ (County Appin) by way of Torosay and that David
was to follow him. After the old man~ez_rsquo~s wife gives David bread, grouse,
and a strong punch, he falls asleep and resumes his journey at noon the
his journey, he encounters an Island of Mull resident who lodges David
for five shillings and agrees to act as a guide through part of the countryside.
Hector Maclean, another Island of Mull resident, changes a guinea into
shillings so that David can pay the guide. Later on, David meets a blind
man, Duncan Mackiegh, who guides David through part of the Island of Mull.
In spite of his blindness, he knows every rock and bush on the island.
He is a dangerous man who carries a pistol and can shoot "by ear." However,
David pretends to have a pistol, too, and thereby avoids trouble with Mackeigh.
David and lodges him at Torosay, he travels to mainland Scotland on a ferry
piloted by Neil Roy Macrob, a friend of Alan Breck Stewart. Macrob gives
David directions on how to rendezvous with Stewart.
the way on a narrow path through woods, David encounters four men on horseback,
one of them Colin Roy Campbell, known as the Red Fox. He is the enemy of
Stewart and the Scots whose lands the crown expropriated. Campbell acts
as the king's agent, or factor, in two Highland counties, Appin and Mamore.
His job is to collect taxes and claim Scottish lands for the crown. When
he questions David, the youth says he is no troublemaker but an ~ez_ldquo~honest
subject of King George.~ez_rdquo~ A shot rings out and the Red Fox falls dead from
his horse. The other horsemen think David stood in the path to delay Campbell
long enough for the killer to aim and shoot. When they chase him, he runs
into the forest~ez_ndash~smack into Stewart. Believing Stewart is their other culprit,
they give chase. But the cover of the forest saves them. David accuses
Stewart of being the shooter, but the latter says, "I swear upon the Holy
Iron I had neither art
nor part, act nor thought
take temporary refuge with James Stewart, known as James of the Glens,
who gives them a change of clothes and pocket money. Then off they go once
more. While they run and English soldiers follow, authorities arrest James
Stewart for the murder of the Red Fox. (The real-life James Stewart was
hanged for the crime even though he was apparently innocent.) At nightfall,
David and Alan take refuge in a cave. David says,
We . . . [made] our bed
of heather bushes which we cut for that
purpose, and covering ourselves with Alan's great-coat. There was alow
concealed place, in a turning of the glen, where we were so bold asto make
fire: so that we could warm ourselves when the clouds set in,and cook hot
porridge, and grill the little trouts that we caught with
our hands under the stones and
overhanging banks of the burn.
with soldiers hard on their heels, David and Alan run into Cluny Macpherson,
a Highlander who lost land and is aligned against the English. He escorts
Stewart and David to his mountain hideaway. There, they remain for three
days. David, exhausted, sleeps most of the time while Stewart gambles,
losing his and David~ez_rsquo~s money. David is angry, but Macpherson returns the
money. Nevertheless, David remains cool toward Stewart as they move southward,
toward the Lowlands~ez_ndash~all the while keeping an eye out for pursuers. They
see posters promising rewards for their capture.
the way, they encounter Robin Oig, one of the sons of Rob Roy Macgregor,
a famous Highland outlaw. There is bad blood between Oig and Stewart, involving
an old family grudge. But to settle matters, they duel with bagpipes, not
swords. After they both play with stunning virtuosity, Stewart admits Oig
gets the better of him. Stewart says, "Ye are a great piper. I am notfit
to blow in the same kingdom with ye. Body of me! ye have mair musicin your
sporran than I have in my head!" They
part in peace.
David and Stewart reach Queensferry, David sees the lawyer Rankeillor,
who discloses the following: David~ez_rsquo~s father and his brother, Ebenezer,
had a dispute over a woman, David~ez_rsquo~s mother. It was settled when David~ez_rsquo~s
father gave up the House of Shaws to meet Ebenezer~ez_rsquo~s demands. However,
Ebenezer was never the rightful owner. Therefore, the property should now
pass to the rightful owner, David.
Alan, Rankeillor, and Rankeillor's law clerk, Torrance, go out to the House
of Shaws, reaching it in the evening. Stewart pounds on the door and gains
entrance after saying he would like to discuss a matter involving David
Balfour. First, he tells Ebenezer that a gentleman in his family found
Balfour lying on a beach, half-drowned, after a shipwreck. Then, he says,
the gentleman and several others imprisoned him in a ruined castle. Pretending
that he is a business associate of Captain Hoseason, Stewart says Hoseason
told him about the deal Ebenezer made to sell David in the Carolinas. When
Ebenezer admits that he made the deal, paying Hoseason "twenty pound" to
get rid of David, Rankeillor, David, and the law clerk all come forward.
For Ebenezer, the jig is up.
David, Alan, and the law clerk eat supper and drink wine, Rankeillor and
Ebenezer come to an agreement in another room: David is to receive two-thirds
of the annual income of the House of Shaws.
the following days, Stewart continues to hide out while David tracks down
a lawyer~ez_ndash~another Stewart, from Alan's country, who is "to be wholly trusted"~ez_ndash~to
arrange ship passage for Alan to France. David and Alan then say good-bye,
and David goes to a bank in Edinburgh to settle his affairs..
The action takes place in
1751 in rural and urban Scottish locales and aboard a ship. The novel begins
at the home of David Balfour in Essendean, Scotland, then moves to the
Scottish countryside, then to an estate at Cramond, near Edinburgh. The
action then shifts to an inn at the port at Queensferry and next to a ship
leaving Scotland for the Carolinas in America. After slow sailing on rough
seas along the Scottish coast, the ship strikes a reef and sinks. The rest
of the action takes place in Scotland~ez_ndash~on islands, in woods, in the countryside,
in a cave, in small settlements and towns, and in Edinburgh.
David Balfour: Honest,
sensible 17-year-old who strikes out on his own after his father dies.
His mother had died earlier. At the beginning of the novel, Balfour is
unaware that he is heir to an estate, the House of Shaws. Although David
is a Lowland Scot, he could be any boy anywhere embarking on a journey
from youth to manhood.
Miserly, devious uncle of David. Ebenezer cheated David's father out of
the House of Shaws. He first tries to murder David. When that scheme fails,
he arranges to have him kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Elias Hoseason: Captain
of a ship, the Covenant. He "buys" David from Ebenezer in hopes
of selling him into slavery at a profit.
Alan Breck Stewart:
Daring, happy-go-lucky Highland Scotsman in rebellion against the English
crown. He befriends David and helps him survive when English chase him
and Alan through the wilderness. Stevenson's Stewart is based on a real-life
Jacobite rebel of the same name.
Mr. Shuan: First
officer under Captain Hoseason. When he drinks, he is extremely cruel.
He kills Ransome, the cabin boy.
Mr. Riach: Second
officer under Captain Hoseason.
Ransome: Abused cabin
boy whom Hoseason uses to help ensnare David in the kidnap scheme.
Mr. Campbell: Kindly
minister who helps David at the beginning of his journey.
Mr. Rankeillor: Lawyer
who helps David settle legal matters with Ebenezer Balfour.
Colin Roy Campbell (the
Red Fox): Scotsman loyal to the English crown. He acts as the king's
agent, or factor, in two Highland counties, Appin and Mamore. His job is
to collect taxes and claim Scottish lands for the crown. He is shot dead
while talking with David Balfour. Alan Breck Stewart is implicated as the
murderer and David as his accomplice. Colin Campbell is based on a real-life
Scotsman of the same name who was shot dead near Ballachuilish. His case
became known as the "Appin Murder."
James of the Glens (James
Stewart): Highland chieftain who lost his lands to the English crown.
He is the head of the Stewart clan, to which Alan Breck Stewart belongs.
Stewart is based on a real-life Scotsman of the same name who was falsely
accused of the murder of Colin Campbell. He was tried at Inverarray, found
guilty, and hanged near Ballachuilish in November 1752.
Mrs. Stewart: Wife
of James Stewart. She treats David kindly and says she will always remember
Another chieftain who lost his lands. As a Jacobite rebel, he fights against
the English and lives in a hideout near a mountain.
Old Man and His Wife:
Poor but generous residents of the Island of Mull who give David food,
drink, and valuable information, then allow him to rest in their hut.
Guide: Island of
Mull resident who lodges David for five shillings and agrees to guide him
Hector Maclean: Island
of Mull resident who changes a guinea into shillings so that David can
pay the guide.
Blind Man who guides David through part of the Island of Mull. In spite
of his blindness, he knows every rock and bush on the island. He is a dangerous
man who carries a pistol and can shoot "by ear." However, David pretends
to have a pistol, too, and thereby avoids trouble with Mackeigh.
Island of Mull Innkeeper:
Man who befriends David and lodges him at Torosay.
Neil Roy Macrob:
Friend of Alan Breck Stewart and skipper of a ferry that takes David from
Torosay to mainland Scotland. He is a friend of Alan Breck Stewart. Macrob
gives David directions on how to rendezvous with Stewart.
who befriends David in the Highlands and provides him valuable information
about the region. He is moderate and reasonable in carrying out his mission.
David's deceased father.
Man who provides some information about Ebenezer Balfour's background.
Woman forced out of her home by Ebenezer Balfour.
Robin Oig: Son of
Rob Roy Macgregor, a famous Highland outlaw.
The plot of Kidnapped
moves swiftly, and the vocabulary is easy to understand except for occasional
words and phrases in 18th Century Scottish dialect. Examples of dialectal
words in the novel are laird (lord), sate (sat),
(church), parritch (porridge), slockens (moistens),
(darkness, as in a pit), nae (no),
dinnae (did not),
wouldnae (would not), bittie
(bit), swier (not willing),
sporran (leather pouch that
hangs from the belt of a Highland Scotsman),
lee (lie, falsehood),
tauld (told), and tod (fox). However, these
words and phrases rarely obscure the meaning of a sentence or paragraph.
But they do serve an important purpose: to season the novel with authenticity.
The narrator is David Balfour, writing in first-person point of view from
the perspective of a young adult looking back on a perilous adventure that
transported him from boyhood to manhood. The chapters are relatively short.
Many of them begin with a paragraph or two setting the scene in lively,
colorful language, as the opening of Chapter II demonstrates:
the forenoon of the second day, coming to the top of a hill, I saw all
the country fall away before me down to the sea; and in the midst of this
descent, on a long ridge, the city of Edinburgh smoking like a kiln. There
was a flag upon the castle, and ships moving or lying anchored in the firth
[narrow sea inlet]; both of which, for as far away as they were, I could
distinguish clearly; and both brought my country heart into my mouth.
Stevenson sometimes ends chapters
the same way, first presenting a scene from a distance, then closing in
on the scene. The last paragraph of Chapter XXVIII (28) is an example:
after, I came by a house where a shepherd lived, and got a rough direction
for the neighbourhood of Cramond; and so, from one to another, worked my
way to the westward of the capital by Colinton, till I came out upon the
Glasgow road. And there, to my great pleasure and wonder, I beheld a regiment
marching to the fifes, every foot in time; an old red-faced general on
a grey horse at the one end, and at the other the company of Grenadiers,
with their Pope's-hats. The pride of life seemed to mount into my brain
at the sight of the red coats and the hearing of that merry music.
Night was quite come when
we came in view of the house of Shaws. Ten had been gone some time; it
was dark and mild, with a pleasant, rustling wind in the south-west that
covered the sound of our approach; and as we drew near we saw no glimmer
of light in any portion of the building. It seemed my uncle was already
in bed, which was indeed the best thing for our arrangements. We made our
last whispered consultations some fifty yards away; and then the lawyer
and Torrance and I crept quietly up and crouched down beside the corner
of the house; and as soon as we were in our places, Alan strode to the
door without concealment and began to knock.
The novel ends with two short
but wonderfully vivid paragraphs setting the scene as David enters Edinburgh:
was coming near noon when I passed in by the West Kirk and theGrassmarket
into the streets of the capital. The huge height of the buildings,
running up to ten and fifteen storeys, the narrow archedentries that continually
vomited passengers, the wares of the merchants in
their windows, the hubbub and endless stir, the foul smells and thefine
clothes, and a hundred other particulars too small to mention,struck me
into a kind of stupor of surprise, so that I let the crowdcarry me to and
fro; and yet all the time what I was thinking of was Alan
at Rest-and-be-Thankful; and all the time (although you would thinkI would
not choose but be delighted with these braws and novelties)there was a
cold gnawing in my inside like a remorse for somethingwrong.
hand of Providence brought me in my drifting to the very doors of the British
Linen Company's bank.
Dual Nature of Man
Robert Louis Stevenson is
famous for writing about humans as a mixture of good and bad. One of his
most popular works, The Strange Case
of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, centers on this idea. In Kidnapped,
Stevenson also focuses in part on the dual nature of man. For example,
Alan Beck Stewart is essentially a good man, but at times he exhibits less
than exemplary behavior. He brags, he takes pleasure in killing enemies,
and he gambles recklessly~ez_ndash~in games of chance and the game of life. Ebenezer
Balfour is essentially a bad man, but at times he exhibits a guilty conscience
and remorse. The division of Scotland into Highlands and Lowlands reflects
this dichotomy in man. Whereas a good many of the Highlanders are outlawed
Jacobites, the Lowlanders are mostly very proper Whigs. What is more, the
Highlanders~ez_ndash~like Stewart~ez_ndash~tend to have a romantic, adventurous spirit and
the Lowlanders a staid, conservative spirit.
Kidnapped's two main
characters, David Balfour and Alan Breck Stewart, hold rival political
and religious views: David is a Whig and a Protestant, and Stewart is a
Jacobite and a Catholic. Jacobites were supporters of the descendants of
James II, a Catholic king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1655 to
1688. (In Latin, James is Jacobus, from which the term Jacobites
derives.) When tensions between Catholics and Protestants peaked in 1688,
James was overthrown and replaced by William of Orange. James fled to France,
where he died in 1701. However, the Catholic Jacobite cause did not die
and even in 1751 (the year in which Stevenson sets the novel) it remained
alive and opposed to the reigning British king, George III. Jacobites believed
that the descendants of James II were the rightful heirs of the throne.
Most Jacobites were Roman Catholics; a few were Anglicans. Whigs were supporters
of the Protestant monarch.
Killed the Red Fox?
Foolproof evidence does not
exist to prove who killed the historical Colin Roy Campbell, known as the
Red Fox. However, a woman named Anda Penman, a descendant of the Scottish
Stewart clan, disclosed in 2001 what she said was a long-guarded family
secret: Donald Stewart, of Ballachuilish, killed Campbell. Before Penman
died not long after her disclosure, researchers were unable to verify her
story. For more information about the assassination of the Red Fox, see
Work and Year of Publication
Kidnapped may be categorized
as (1) an apprenticeship novel, (2) an adventure novel, and (3) a historical
novel. Young Folks magazine published Kidnapped in May, June,
and July of 1886.
Coming of Age: The
central theme is the coming of age of David Balfour. Like the heroes of
other novels of this type, Balfour undergoes many trials that test his
character and moral fiber. By the end of the novel, having demonstrated
courage and good judgment, he passes from boyhood into young manhood.
is a novel of high adventure, featuring swordplay, intrigue, villainy,
heroism, braggadocio, and narrow escapes at sea and on land.
Balfour is a Protestant loyal to the English crown. Alan Breck Stewart
is a Catholic opposed to the crown. Yet Balfour and Stewart become good
friends, refusing to allow their differences to come between them.
Abuse of the Weak and
Downtrodden: Captain Hoseason and several of his crewmen maltreat the
cabin boy Ransome. He dies as a result of a beating. Ebenezer Balfour takes
advantage of David Balfour, a callow, well-meaning youth when he shows
up at Ebenezer~ez_rsquo~s door.
is loyal to his Jacobite cause, as well as to his friends espousing the
same cause, and they are loyal to him. David is loyal to his friend Stewart.
David is also loyal to his inborn and instilled moral values.
climax of a literary work can be defined as (1) the turning point at which
the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the
final event leading to the resolution of the work. The climax of Kidnapped
occurs, according to the first definition, when an unknown assassin kills
Colin Roy Campbell (the Red Fox) and the latter's compatriots implicate
David Balfour as an accomplice. According to the second definition, the
climax occurs when Alan Breck Stewart tricks Ebenezer Balfour into admitting
that he arranged the kidnapping of Balfour.
Facts About the Author
Stevenson's full name was
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson. Balfour was the maiden name of his
mother, Margaret Isabella Balfour. Like David Balfour in Kidnapped,
Stevenson struck out at age 17 to find his destiny. First, he enrolled
in Edinburgh University to study lighthouse engineering. Later, he set
his sights on law as a career but never practiced it after completing his
studies. He spent time in Switzerland and France before going to America,
living and working in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and then in
San Francisco and Monterey, California. He married an American divorcee.
Because of failing health, he moved to the South Seas and died at Vailima,
Samoa, in 1894.
Study Questions and Essay
How do the people and places
David encounters after leaving home contribute to his development into
a mature young adult?
Does David Balfour's essential
character undergo major changes between Chapter 1 and Chapter 30? Does
Alan Breck Stewart undergo any changes?
In the U.S., the people and
culture of the northern states differ in many ways from the people and
culture of the southern states. In Scotland, the Highlands and Lowlands
differ in the same way. Write an informative essay explaining the differences
between these two regions in the 1750s. Take into account differences involving
customs, traditions, language, political views, religious beliefs, and
the economic status of the citizens.
Early in the novel, the reader
learns that Ebenezer Balfour has a heart ailment for which he takes a remedy
kept in a cupboard. Do you believe the ailment symbolizes a defect in his
Was Alan Breck Stewart typical
of Highland Jacobites in the 1750s?
Write an essay on the theme
of friendship in Kidnapped.
Captain Hoseason planned to
sell David into slavery in the Americas. Were there white slaves in America
in the 18th Century? What was the view of Europeans, including Scots and
Englishmen, toward slavery in the 18th Century?
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