Jack's Compass in Dead Man's Chest

Captain Jack Truesilver

Notorious Pirate
I've been thinking about our three main characters, and how their arcs over the course of the original trilogy can really each be summed up in one line...

Elizabeth: "A pirate's life for me..."
Will: "Pirate is in your blood, boy, so you'll have to square with that someday."
Jack: "He's a pirate!" "And a good man!"

Side Note: These three are the titular "Pirates" of the Caribbean to which the movies are really referring. It's not just Jack. He's not the central character (except for in On Stranger Tides).

We spend most of Curse of the Black Pearl wondering whose side Jack is really on; we don't trust him, both because he's a pirate and also because he intentionally leaves his true goals and allegiances unknown until the "opportune moment." In the end, however, we discover that, though his methods are unconventional, he is a good person at his core.

In Dead Man's Chest, however, his debt to Davy Jones is something that is ultimately inescapable. From what we've learned from the first movie, normally Jack is someone who is accustomed to working his way out of even the toughest situations, particularly if he has "the proper leverage," which is why we find him in pursuit of Jones' heart. However, he no longer has the same advantages with Jones as he did with Barbossa and the crew of the Black Pearl. And, he also has a "terrible leviathan" chasing after him. It's not hard to see that Jack is incredibly desperate in this film, which pushes him to act much more selfishly throughout it. If, in his heart, he is a good person, then certainly many of the acts he commits in Dead Man's Chest, out of desperation to stay alive, must be eating away at his conscience.

So, we know that his compass points to whatever one wants most in this world, and Tia Dalma explains that it hasn't been working for him because the heart of Davy Jones is not his to possess in the first place. But...


It isn't until this moment that the compass really works for him without serious effort to overpower the indecisive spinning. As I've been mulling it over, I feel like his compass in this movie serves as a metaphorical moral compass as well. Aside from the reasons that Tia Dalma provides, I also believe that it doesn't work for him because he continues to go against what he knows to be right (i.e. trading his own soul for the souls of one hundred other individuals and double-crossing Will). The compass begins working for him again when he realizes that if he only had the choice between either screwing everyone else over to save himself or doing what's right even if it meant dying, he'd rather do the right thing.

This is the real moment that truly solidifies him as "a good man," and it's so pivotal because that's what his whole character is all about.

Does anyone agree with this, or am I a little off-the-rails with this one? Or was this just incredibly obvious already and it just took me fourteen years to figure out?
 
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