Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson 8/10

Kidnapped is a relatively short novel by Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. Stevenson is best known for his novel Treasure Island which was a (very famous) coming of age story that often touched on the ambiguity of what is moral. Kidnapped, is also a coming of age story. The book takes place in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1745 (although the book doesn’t actually tell you this, I had to look it up) where the Scottish highlanders, who are portrayed sympathetically, are being repressed by the through laws that did things like prevent them from wearing traditional highland clothing and carrying anything that could be considered a weapon. Although, neither the lowlanders or highlanders are depicted in a negative way but are rather both portrayed as two sensible sides that simply disagree.

In Kidnapped, the main character, David Balfour, lives in the Scottish lowlands and, after his parents die, is sent to live with his scheming uncle who ends up making arrangements with slave traders to have David kidnapped (hence the title) and sold as a slave in the Americas. After his escape from the slaver, he ends up stranded in the Scottish highlands and accidentally becomes a fugitive after he was unjustly accused of being an accomplice in the “Appin Murder” which was a real historical event in 1752 that occurred after the Jacobite uprising.

Throughout the book, the reader can clearly see a theme of maturation through David’s transformation from being an over-confident, arrogant, and someone who “judges people by their cover” to becoming a person who appreciates every little pleasure and who only judges people based on their actions. The reader can especially see this in how he first treats his unkempt uncle versus how he later treats equally unkempt highlanders whom he encounters through his flight away from the Scottish authorities. The former he instantly treats with significant disdain while the latter he would only voice any judgments after he leaves their company or at least spending a significant amount of time with them.

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