True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

By:Anusha M, Anu U, Tyler N, Ethan B, Sudeep R


In this fast-paced and suspense-filled novel, 13-year-old Charlotte Doyle describes a remarkable sea voyage that changes her life forever. In 1832, Charlotte crosses the Atlantic aboard the Seahawk, departing from England to join her family in Rhode Island. Raised to be a proper young lady, she is surprised to learn that she is the only passenger and only female aboard the ship. Frightened by a mysterious crew, at first she trusts only Jaggery, the captain, but soon discovers that he is cruel and slightly mad. She then joins ranks with the mutinous crew but must convince them of her loyalty by tackling death-defying feats unfamiliar to most females of her era. Charlotte is befriended along the way by the old black cook, Zachariah, who eventually helps save her life. When the vengeful captain accuses her of murder, Charlotte is tried and found guilty. She escapes punishment in a life-and-death struggle with Jaggery and is finally reunited with her family. Charlotte misses the Seahawk, however, and, in an unusual twist of the plot, casts aside the comforts of home for the life of a seafarer.

Our Predictions

Our Predictions 1


Charlotte Doyle

She is very observant and thinks a lot. For example, when Charlotte and Zachariah are in the brig, she remembers things that she had seen and tries to figure out Captain Jaggery's plan."'Do you think he really knows who killed Mr. Hollybrass?.... I saw some of that too...... I know where he keeps it..... He knows you're alive. The crew, he realizes, must know it too. I'm a threat to him... And once I am gone, Zachariah, then...he'll deal with you'" (185-187). When she went to the captain's cabin for the first time she saw many things that were different from the rest of the Seahawk and said that the cabin was "...a world apart". "It extended the full width of the Seahawk. And I found that I could stand in it with room to spare. The walls were richly one corner I spied a chessboard, pieces at the ready. Finally, a table, with a few chairs about it, had been laid with a silver service for tea....been no creak and groan of timbers, no rattle of rigging and chain, no hiss of waves...." (43).


Zachariah represents the caring tone in this novel, because when Charlotte Doyle first boards the Seahawk he is very kind and wants to be her friend. "...that Miss Doyle will have use for a friend..... Zachariah can be a fine friend'" (24). He also gives her a dirk for protection on the Seahawk, "... I only wish to give you the knife for protection..."(25). When the captain shoots Mr. Cranick, Zachariah was the only one who put up his hands and approaches him even though Captain Jaggery had said not to. "He held his hads before him, waist high palms up,as if to prove he carried no weapon. He kept his eyes on the captain ......continued on with slow, deliberate steps toward the fallen man"(92-93).

Captain Jaggery

He is very mean, because he shot Mr.Cranick, whipped Zachariah, slapped Charlotte, killed Mr. Hollybrass, and treated his crew unfairly. "'You killed Hollybrass, didn't you?' I now demanded 'I did. Why? He threatened me,' the captain said with a shake of his head" (199). This tells us that the captain killed Mr. Hollybrass because Mr. Hollybrass threatened him. "And before I could respond, he struck me across the face with the back of his hand, then and walked away." This shows that he struck Charlotte even though she was a girl. "' Just now, miss, the captain put us on display. All that hauling and pulling. It was to no account. Mocking us-.........' 'it's true, miss. He's abusing us.'" These quotes show Captain Jaggery's abusiveness.

Mr. Keetch

Mr. Keetch has the traitorous tone because he told the captain about the crew, Cranick, and Zachariah. He also informed the captain about their plans. "'Keetch'..... 'Exactly. Who, from the start informed me about the crew; how they threatened passengers so they would not sail. He informed me about Cranick. About Zachariah'" (197).



The Seahawk set out to sea from Liverpool, England on June 17,1832.

It arrived in Providence, Rhode Island on August 17, 1832.


When Charlotte Doyle boards the Seahawk and hears a tale about the captain, who the crew hates, but Charlotte only has respect for, and when Zachariah give her a dirk for protection. "'I only wish to give you the knife as protection-in case you need it.' So saying, he took my hand and closed my fingers over the dirk. Cringing, I kept it" (25). ".......tell such a slanderous tale of violence and cruelty regarding Captain Jaggery to me......."(42). "'I have nothing but respect for the captain'" (41).

Rising Action

When Charlotte spies on the crew for Captain Jaggery and tells him that the crew is planning a rebellion. "'You can be my eyes and ears among the crew, Miss Doyle.' 'I intend to crush this mutiny before it starts'"(87). They find out that there was a stowaway who was Mr. Cranick (the old first mate until the captain cut his arm off). Mr. Cranick and Zachariah get killed by the captain and Charlotte becomes a part of the crew. "Cranick had stopped moving..... In moments Zachariah's scarred and bloodied body dropped to the deck...... And that body had to be Zachariah's" (92,101,106).


During a hurricane Mr. Hollybrass gets murdered from Charlotte's dirk, so Captain Jaggery accuses her of murder, and she finds out that Zachariah is NOT dead.

"There beneath it, lay Mr. Hollybrass, face down. A knife was stuck in his back, plunged so deeply only the scrimshaw handle could be seen. I recognized the design of a star. This was the dirk Zachariah had given me.......It was my handkerchief" (138-139). "'Miss Doyle, I charge you in the willful murder of Mr. Hollybrass'" (145). "The very image of Zachariah-....... I moved forward, reached out, and touched his hand. Real flesh. And warmth" (149).

Falling Action

Charlotte and Zachariah realize that the captain killed Mr. Hollybrass, and make a plan to give the crew a chance to get rallied up again, but it doesn't work because Mr. Keetch tells the captain about their plans. "'It must have been he who killed Mr. Hollybrass.... you even thought Captain Jaggery lifted his hand to strike him after Mr. Hollybrass made an accusation..... If we could have secured that key-and the guns-we would have taken him before. And I can promise you, it's still true....... If Jaggery had no muskets, the men could be rallied again...... Keetch..... Who, from the start kept me informed about the crew..'"(185-186, 197).


When Captain Jaggery dies, the crew gets their justice and Charlotte returns to her family, but only for a little while until she realizes that her home and heart are as a sailor on the Seahawk. "Then the ship plunged again and he tumbled into the waves.....Captain Jaggery dropped into the roaring foam and passed beneath the ship, not to be seen again" (205). "'I've decided to come home.'......By morning tide-and a southwest wind-the Seahawk sailed away. As it did I was clinging to the top gallant spar below a billowing royal yard" (221).

Figurative Language

This figurative language helps the reader what is going through the character's mind or help them see thing though the character's eyes. They also make the subject that the author is trying to describe or tell a little more fun, exciting, or easier to understand.

  • On page 21, the similes help describe Zachariah's features to the reader, "His arms and legs were thin as marlinespikes. His face, as wrinkled as a crumpled napkin....."
  • On page 34, Charlotte says " though I was a baby. Indeed I was a baby", where she is saying that she felt like a baby because she was sick and Zachariah was feeding her like she was a baby.
  • On page 140, " wet and heavy hair, like a horses tail, kept whipping across my face." This simile helps the readers understand how Charlotte's hair was causing trouble for her while she was climbing the sail.
  • On page 136, "my words made him turn as pale as a ghost-a ghost with murder in his eye." This simile helps the readers understand what the captain looked like after Charlotte had insulted him and said what she had.
  • On page 166, the imagery helps us understand how she felt when she came out to the top of the boat for the first time in a while. "I felt as though my legs would give away under me."


Internal and External Conflict

Internal Conflict:

There was not much internal conflict.

  • On pages 49-50 and 64 when Charlotte was trying to figure out if she should tell the captain what she had found out and on page 99 she realizes that she shouldn't have told him.
  • On page 102, she cried for everyone but didn't who would trust her or who she could trust.

External Conflict:

There was more external conflict than internal conflict, but because of the internal conflict there was external conflict.

  • On page 91 Mr. Cranick was talking to the captain about how the crew wanted their justice and that the captain be put to trial and how he used Charlotte as his eyes and ears and how she could defend him when Captain Jaggery fired his musket and shot Mr. Cranick in the chest.
  • On pages 134-135 there were all three kinds of external conflicts. First there was man vs. nature when the captain told Charlotte to fix the bowsprit, she was going against the waves, because the bowsprit was dipping in and out of the waves trying to pull her in every time. The next kind of external was man vs. man physically when Charlotte was safe on the boat and Captain Jaggery slapped her, because they had to change courses to get her safely back on the boat. Then the last one was man vs. man verbal, was after the captain slapped Charlotte, she started yelling at him and threatening to go to the courts and reveal the truth about him.
  • On pages 204-205 the captain tries to kill Charlotte because he made the crew believe that she killed Mr. Hollybrass but while he is trying to get her the boat starts rocking very hard because of the waves the captain ends up going overboard while trying to get Charlotte.


We think that the theme of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is Beware the evil behind the smiling eyes. Which means that someone will befriend you at first and be very kind but in the end will show their true colors and become very selfish or rude. In the novel, at first Charlotte thinks that the captain is a gentleman and could never do anything bad, but every second towards the end the captain starts to show his true colors and finally when he accused Charlotte of murder even though he had murdered Mr. Hollybrass.