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Pirate Compare and Contrast: How Long John Silver Stacks Up

By Sarah Degnan Moje

How much do Long John Silver and Captain Hook have in common? The similarities may surprise you!

258px-Black-Beard Some of your students may be on rather familiar terms with Captain Hook of Peter Pan fame. What they may not know, unless they have read Barrie’s novel, is that his portrayal of Hook is a homage of sorts to Stevenson’s classic novel. In Barrie’s novel it is stated that Hook was a contemporary of the famous pirate, Barbeque, which we know is Silver’s nickname in Treasure Island.

So, just how much do these two have in common? Use a clip from Disney’s animated film “Peter Pan” to find out. Show students the clip from Peter Pan where the pirates are singing aboard the ship. Hook does not appear until the end of the song, and actually shoots and kills another pirate, offscreen, because the singing is annoying him. That’s harsh action for a Disney villain, but from that alone, it does sound like Hook measures up to the reputations of Stevenson’s harsh pirates.

Next, distribute the lyrics of a song from the operetta Pirates of Penzzance. Have students compare the description of the pirate’s behavior in that song, with some of Long John Silver’s passages in the novel, and Hook’s dialogue in the film. What similarities can student find among the three pirates? Who comes across as the most harsh? The most likeable? The most realistic when compared to the previous lesson about Blackbeard? The discussion possibilities are endless, so you’ll see hands waving all over the classroom. That’s exactly what an engaged class should be doing: participating and sharing. Happy discussing!