Is Captain Jack Sparrow a Good Man?

I still don’t understand why people think Captain Jack Sparrow is a good man. (Disclaimer: I’ve only seen the first half of the 4th Pirates).

Look, let’s list out all the bad things Jack Sparrow does, and all the good things he does.

Before Curse of the Black Pearl:
0) Off-screen acts of piracy until the mutiny.
Curse of the Black Pearl:

  1. Betrays his friends, his shipmates, his enemies, any 3rd parties… Pretty much everyone. In the first movie, he flip-flops sides dozens of times. He doesn’t care about his own crew, Elizabeth, or Will; all he cares about is killing Barbosa and taking back the Black Pearl. His lies and thefts nearly kill pretty much every main, major, minor, and comedic relief character at least once.
    Dead Man’s Chest:
  2. Makes a literal deal with the devil. Well, with Davy Jones. Close enough.
  3. Tries to get Will in Davy Jones’ crew in order to escape punishment.
  4. Goes to Tortuga with the full intention of finding 99 men to damn instead of him. His most evil and depraved act.
  5. Manipulates Elizabeth and the Ex-Admiral so that they’ll help him get the Chest.
  6. Abandons his ship and crew, along with his friends, to the Kraken.
    At World’s End:
  7. Seriously considers stranding all the people he doesn’t like in Davy Jones’ Locker. Admittedly, Elizabeth and Barbosa undoubtedly deserve this after all they’ve done to him. The only reason he saves them is because he needs them.
    On Stranger Tides:
    Haven’t finished this movie yet, but already:
  8. Beats up and ties up a judge.
  9. Plots to mutiny against a captain when all he knows (or rather, THINKS he knows) of said captain is that heSa isn’t Blackbeard. This is especially bad, since Captain Jack should, of all people, know how much mutinies suck.

Now, what has he done that’s good?
Curse of the Black Pearl:

  1. Saved Elizabeth when she fell off a cliff. Proceeds to take her hostage in order to escape.
  2. Defeats Barbosa. Of course, he doesn’t do this because he wants to help anyone; he does this because he wants Barbosa’s ship.
    Dead Man’s Chest:
  3. Goes back to his ship after abandoning it to save his crew. The same crew that he’s already abandoned to the kraken. And cannibals. Gets betrayed and eaten by a kraken as a reward. Probably won’t be doing any god acts soon.
    At World’s End:
  4. Sacrifices immortality on the waves to save Will. One of his few truly good acts, but he was conflicted about immortality anyways. Not to mention that the only reason Will was dying in the first place is because of Jack’s convoluted plot to gain immortality.

So, yeah. Not only are there twice as many evil deeds as good, most of the good deeds were done with selfish intent. He has two real good acts that are completely selfless: Going back to face the kraken and saving Will. Oh, and I didn’t even mention the fact that he’s a pirate: pillaging and looting and killing and raping is on his business card.

So, how can ANYONE say that Captain Jack Sparrow is a good man? Don’t get me wrong, I like him. And I want to believe he’s a good person. But frankly, I just don’t see it.

He isn’t. He’s a dashing rogue.

Agreed. He’s not good, but he’s got style.

I never thought of him as good or evil. Most alignment charts place him as Chaotic Neutral. That seems to me to be pretty accurate.

He’s not a good person, but he’s an honest pirate. Preferable to most of the “good” people of the establishment. And really, with Keith Rchards for a Dad, you’ve gotta admit he’s better than he should be. . .

Chaotic Neutral would work, right up to the part where he tried to trade Davy Jones 100 innocent souls. I guess the question is, would he have gone through with it? Based on the fact that he damned Will until Jones told him he’d need 99 more, the answer appears to be yes. Obviously he’d rather pull a fast one over Davy, but I think he’d have made the trade if he.could have . Which is enough to peg him as Evil, no?

Regarding the “honest pirate” idea… Is he? He lies and steals from friends and enemies alike. How do you peg him as honest?

I eman that he’s honest about being a pirate. Anybody he’s close to knows better than to trust him for anything, because he’s made it clear that he is untrustworthy. You can trust him to be him, to the teeth. No more, no less. If you can figure him out, you can wrap him around the maypole - like Elizabeth does.

He doesn’t seem to take joy in hurting other people. A couple other bad guys are portrayed as enjoying the torment they inflict.

But no, he’s not “good”.

Depp makes the character likeable enough on the screen, and a lot of movie goers are willing to overlook his self serving deeds because of his style and flair.

The existence of greater evils does not change the fact that he’s evil, too. Nearly everything he does is for his own benefit, with almost no thought for the welfare of anyone else. That’s pretty much the textbook definition of evil.

Do they? I’ve not met these mythical beings! Who thinks he’s a good man?

It’s a textbook definition of selfish, but I think evil is too strong a word to use to describe anyone who is merely totally selfish.

He’s about as trustworthy a pirate as you’re likely to find -

Nuff said.

No, that’s the textbook definition of Chaotic. (well, DMG, anyway)

Personally, I find Sparrow and Pratchett’s Rincewind to be very similar - both want what they consider a comfortable niche, both end up Luck and Fate’s plaything. Both are driven by their own cowardice. They just approach it from different endpoints.

No, not in the least. If he were a good man, the series would be called ‘Hornblower with witches’ or some such nonsense. He’s a rogue, and we love rogues from Falstaff through Scapin to Tom Ripley to Jack Sparrow.

Yeah but do you think he has all of it planned out or is he making it up as he goes?

He’s “good” in that despite all of his selfishness and big talk, he ultimately will “do the right thing” when the moment comes. But those moments tend to be few and far between.

The thing is, Jack Sparrow exists in a world where being “good” in any meaningful way doesn’t make sense. His world is populated with truly amoral pirates, prostitutes, corrupt beurocrats, cannibles and evil supernatural beings. So IOW, he’s just another jerk trying to survive. He just happens to be a more stylish one.

for the record -

To mis-quote a great country music song:

He may be a real bad boy, but baby he’s a real good man.

I heard that he’s a pirate so brave on the seven seas, and that his raven locks sway in the ocean breeze.

Finally, NOW we’re back to the good part.