The bottle imp

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The bottle imp is a fictitious short story written for juvenile readers. R.L. Stevenson usually wrote for juveniles. His writings always present peculiar situations and usually, they are based on supernatural elements.


There is a moral in almost all his short stories. The story is told and situations are presented very nicely as if the whole scene passes like a moving film.

The bottle imp summary

Keawe is a poor sailor of Hawai Island. He is quite innocent and easygoing. Once he chanced to go to San Francisco. It is a hilly place on the bank of the sea with a fine harbor, One day while walking on its streets, astonishing looking at the fine rows of massive buildings.

He met a bald man who had his beard black and face written with sorrow. The stranger called Keawe inside his big house and offered to sell his magic bottle with an imp inside it, for on for ly at fifty dollars.

Full Story The bottle imp

The stranger told him that the bottle imp was very mighty and one, who possessed, it, could get anything just for the asking. He also said that all his wealth and the big house, were the gifts of the same bottle-imp that he wanted to sell him at such a cheap price of fifty dollars.

“Why ?” asked Keawe-“If the bottle imp was so powerful and gave everything just at the asking, it was strange out to sell it so cheaply?” The stranger explained that his health was falling down and if he did not sell it before his death, he would have to hang in the hell.

And he had to sell it at a cheaper rate otherwise the bottle-imp would return to him. He had purchased it at eighty dollars, so he could not take more than seventy-nine dollars.

The innocent fellow that Keawe was got confused at the peculiar offer. Theyssinger further added that in the beginning, the bottle-imp must have been sold at millions of pounds but as per the magic rule, every subsequent buyer purchased it at a cheaper price and so in hundreds & hundreds of years, the price has come down to eighty dollars.

The bottle imp Analysis

The stranger said that he was obliged to take a lesser price for the bottle-imp than the price that he had offered while purchasing it. He also added that emperor Napoleon had purchased this bottle and through the help of the imp he had gone so high.

He lost his empire when he disposed of the bottle. Thomas Cook had this bottle and so he found many islands and he was killed only after he sold the bottle to someone else.

Ultimately Keawe purchased the bottle and he was perplexed to see for himself that the bottle gave him whatever he wanted from it. He returned to his ship and narrated the whole thing to his close friend Lipka.

Look also aspired for a schooner of his own, so both the friends were very happy with the prospect the bottle imp was supposed to bring for them. Keawe wanted a majestic house like the big houses of San Francisco.

When the ship returned to their native island, Keawe was informed that one of his uncles had died and his only son was drowned. Keawe began lamenting for them.

But Lopka reminded him that perhaps they died due to the bottle imp so that he could get their money and thereby Keawe could get a house constructed exactly as per his ambition.

Later on, it was found that the uncle had left immense wealth that Keawe was to inherit. The uncle’s lawyer gave him the money and sent him to an architect who showed him a house designed exactly the type which Keawe had imagined, The price was also quoted as exactly what the uncles had left for him. Keawe was surprised and he was confident now that the whole thing was done by the bottle imp.

Keawe paid the amount quoted by the architect and set off with Lopka for another voyage. After they returned, Keawe settled in his massive house But all through his voyage period, he was reluctant to retain the bottle imp despite the riches and material comforts it brought for him.

He realized that bottle imp was a curse as it killed his uncle and cousin to make him rich. So ultimately, he sold the bottle to his friend Lopka who wanted a schooner of his own and some dollars as his pocket expenses.

Look got away with the bottle, Keawe was satisfied that at last he could get rid of the devastating bottle and the ugly imp therein.

Critical appreciation of the bottle imp

“The bottle imp”, as the title itself suggests, is based on the supernatural acts of an imp who is pressed into a bottle centuries ago. The imp fulfills any aspirations of its keeper. Keawe, a simpleton, purchases the bottle-imp with some hesitation.

His ambition was to have a majestic house like the one he saw in San Francisco. His ambition is materialized, at the cost of his uncle and cousin brother. The good and kind-hearted that Keawe is, can not tolerate, it and ultimately he disposes of the bottle imp.

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The bottle imp
The bottle imp

The whole story is told in a novel way. The discussion between the man of San Francisco, the previous holder of the bottle, and Keawe who later on purchased it, is very interesting. Arguments and counterarguments have been made very convincingly.

The language is lucid and very depictive. The character of Keawe has been painted very well.

Thus the story is very fascinating as well as absorbing. It is a tale of spirits and witchcraft. The bottle imp

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