Major themes

The solid historical and environmental background, and the realism with which the physical hardship suffered by Breck and David is described, give the novel an immediacy which perhaps explains its hold on some readers, given the simple narrative line and spare plotting. Indeed, plot only takes a dominant role at the beginning and end of the novel, while the heart of it lies in what Henry James described as the "really excellent" chapters of the flight in the heather. Some of the Scottish dialogue may be hard going for non-Scots readers, though Stevenson himself admitted that he had applied only a smattering so as not to tax the inner ear of non-Scots. Kidnapped also shows the importance of friendship and loyalty, mostly between David and Breck.

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