Black Spot (Treasure Island)

Black Spot (Treasure Island)

The Black Spot is a fictional literary device invented by Robert Louis Stevenson for his novel "Treasure Island". In the book, a pirate is presented with a "black spot" to officially pronounce a verdict of guilt or judgment. It consists of a piece of paper or card, with a circular black spot in the middle and placed in the hand of the accused. It was a source of much fear because it meant the pirate will be executed. In "Treasure Island", Billy Bones is so frightened by it he suffers a stroke and dies. [cite book|title=Treasure Island|author=Robert Louis Stevenson Billy Bones receives the spot - [ chapter 3] ] Later Long John Silver receives the spot, but is calm enough to notice that it has been torn out from a bible, and warns his rivals of the curse this will bring upon them. [cite book|title=Treasure Island|author=Robert Louis Stevenson Long John Silver receives the spot - [ chapter 29] ]

The origins of Stevenson's Black Spot might be in the historical tradition of Caribbean pirates of showing an Ace of Spades to a person condemned as traitor or informer. The card was putting the person "on the spot" for danger, since it consists of a spot. [cite book|title=Now You Know: The Book of Answers|author=Doug Lennox|year=2003|publisher=Hounslow Press p. 87 [,M1] ] [Brian H. Scoott, "All kinds of Trivia" [] ] [Origins of Ace of Spades being the "death card" allotted to pirates [] ]

The Black Spot has since been used in other works of popular culture:

*1930 - In "Swallows and Amazons" by Arthur Ransome, the Amazon Pirates give their Uncle, Captain Flint, a Black Spot on a piece of paper, with writing on the other side that says "You are deposed from being an uncle or anything decent" due to his ill-treatment of their friends.
*1946 - In the novel "Jeeves in the Morning" by P.G. Wodehouse, Boko Fittleworth greets the news that Bertie Wooster is engaged to Florence Cray by saying "I did think that the black spot had finally passed into Stilton's possession."
*1948 - The short story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.
*1996 - "Muppet Treasure Island", a retelling of "Treasure Island", the black spot is drawn on a piece of paper and given to Billy Bones. It's also given to Long John Silver on a page from the Bible. He escapes execution by claiming they've defiled the holy book.
*2000 - The 2000 video-game "Skies of Arcadia" presented players with a black spot, a message from a bounty hunter that they would soon be hunted down and killed.
*2002 - "Puzzle Pirates", an MMORPG created by Three Rings Design, uses the term "Black Spot" to refer to a temporary way to silence rude and disruptive players.
*2005 - In German movie "Die wilden Kerle 2" ("The Wild Soccer Bunch 2"), protagonist and Wild Soccer Bunch leader Leon hands a "Schwarzer Punkt" ("Black Spot") to Vanessa when in his opinion she betrays the gang by fancying another gang's leader.
*2006 - In the Disney feature film "", Captain Jack Sparrow is presented with a literal Black Spot by Bootstrap Bill Turner as a marker that the Kraken can track; in the film, the black spot appears as a large black boil-like swelling on the palm of his hand.
*2007- In the CBS reality television show "Pirate Master", the black spot is given by the captain to the three contestants that he nominates to be voted off.
*2008 - On the indie-Americana band Murder By Death's 4th CD, "Red of Tooth and Claw," there is a song titled "Black Spot" in which the singer laments, "The black spot, I never thought I'd be the one givin' it to you."
*2008 - In a normal job search, Simutronics Corporation mailed out papers with only a large black spot in the center to signal their rejection of applicants. Namely, those in Seattle and having previously annoyed the company received these papers.


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