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Jack Sparrow's compass

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Piratecompass600
Jack Sparrow's compass
Object information
Made

Before 1730s[1]

Usage
Owner(s)

Laura Smith
Tia Dalma
Jack Sparrow
Elizabeth Swann
Angelica
Joshamee Gibbs

Affiliation

Jack Sparrow

Behind the scenes
First appearance

The Curse of the Black Pearl

Latest appearance

On Stranger Tides

"True enough, this compass does not point north."
"...Where does it point?"
"It points to the thing you want most in this world.
"
Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann[src]

Jack Sparrow's compass was an unusual navigational instrument most notably used by Captain Jack Sparrow, which he bartered from the voodoo mystic Tia Dalma. The compass was the key to everything, for those who knew how to use it. Unlike an ordinary compass, Jack's compass proved most valuable, as it pointed to what the owner wanted most, rather than mere magnetic north.

Although it appeared to be useless, as the needle never pointed north, Jack's compass had supernatural qualities, giving him a special edge. The compass couldn't be used to navigate in a conventional sense, but it did direct the owner to whatever he or she wanted most at the moment. As the most special of all his possessions, this compass would be used in many of Jack Sparrow's adventures, including the search for the Treasure of Cortés, the Dead Man's Chest, and the Fountain of Youth.

History

In Laura Smith's possession

"So now, how do you find an invisible ship?"
"With this.
"
Jack Sparrow and Laura Smith[src]

The origin of this unique compass is shrouded in mystery. It was an unusual instrument and appeared to be useless as the needle did not point due north, like regular compasses. Rather, the compass had the supernatural ability to point to the thing the holder wanted most, particularly what the holder wanted at that moment.[2]

By the late 1720s, the compass would be in the possession of Laura Smith, the captain of the infamous pirate ship La Fleur de la Mort. When she and the crew of the fishing boat Barnacle, led by Jack Sparrow, escaped from the Pirate Guard in New Orleans, Laura used the compass to find her ship, which was invisible at that time because its magical sails were unfurled.[3] Sometime afterwards, the compass would end up in the possession of the mystic Tia Dalma through mysterious circumstances.

Trading of the compass

Js

Jack Sparrow with his compass.

"The compass you bartered from me. It cannot lead you to this?"
"Maybe. Why?"
"Ah, Jack Sparrow does not know what he wants! Or do you know...but are loath to claim it as your own?
"
Tia Dalma and Jack Sparrow[src]

At some point, Jack Sparrow would barter the compass from Tia Dalma years prior to his search for the treasure of Isla de Muerta.[4] It is currently unknown what Jack gave to Tia Dalma in exchange for the compass. However, he was careful not to talk about the compass to anyone but those who knew about its existence. Jack knew that there was simply no way to easily explain to superstitious men what he had.[5]

The Price of Freedom

"What's that? Oh, it’s broken."
"No, it’s not. This is our salvation, lad.
"
Robert Greene and Jack Sparrow[src]

As a young pirate, Jack used the compass on several occasions. When he and Robert Greene escaped from La Vipère, the ship of the rogue pirate Christophe-Julien de Rapièr, Jack used the compass to lead them to the closest island.[5]

When he became a merchant captain in the East India Trading Company, Jack used the compass to steer his ship, the Wicked Wench, to a protected cove in the Bahamas where his crew gathered fresh supplies. He also used it during his search for the mythical island of Kerma, and inside the Zerzuran labyrinth.[5]

When he returned to piracy, Jack used the compass to steer the Black Pearl to Shipwreck Island,[5] where he became a Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea. He didn't use the compass during the quest for the Shadow Gold.[6]

Isla de Muerta

"How can we sail to an island that nobody can find, with a compass that doesn't work?"
"Aye, the compass doesn't point north, but we're not trying to find north, are we?
"
Will Turner and Joshamee Gibbs[src]

By the time Jack showed up in Tortuga to recruit a crew, Jack Sparrow had the compass for use during the search for the Treasure of Hernán Cortés, buried on Isla de Muerta.[4] The compass worked in Jack's favor as he used it to find the bearings to the island. Three days into the voyage, Hector Barbossa tricked Jack into giving up the bearings before Barbossa led the mutiny aboard the Black Pearl.[7] When Jack was marooned, he was thrown overboard with the compass in possession.[8][9]

JacksCompassCotBP

James Norrington examining Jack's compass.

Ten years later, Jack would still have the compass in his possession. When Jack was confronted by Commodore Norrington and his men at Port Royal, the compass was examined by Norrington as well as Jack's other effects. After commandeering the Interceptor, Jack simply followed the direction of the compass pointed to and sailed straight to the island in an attempt to rescue Elizabeth Swann. During the voyage, Will Turner questioned the usage of the compass, saying it doesn't work, but Joshamee Gibbs said that the compass doesn't point north, but they weren't trying to find north either. Will later asked how Jack Sparrow got the compass in the first place. Gibbs replied that not much is known about Jack before his search for the dreaded Isla de Muerta. Commodore Norrington later used Jack and his compass to lead them to Isla de Muerta to save Will from Barbossa. Jack would keep the compass on his person during his execution and used it to set a new course upon taking the wheel of the Black Pearl.[8]

Some time later, Jack and his crew were sitting in a tavern, where Jack told them that Tia Dalma gave him the compass as a sign of gratitude for saving her from the vicious Admiral Royce of the East India Trading Company.[10] However, as Jack acquired the compass a few years prior to becoming an infamous pirate, this particular story was obviously false,[5] at least the part with the compass. It is possible that Jack's fabrications were the reason why it was commonly believed that he acquired the compass from the voodoo priestess seven years before the battle of Isla de Muerta.[11]

Dead Man's Chest

Beginning the seach

DMCSpiralspinning

The compass aboard the Black Pearl.

"You'd best be coming up with a new plan, Jack, and it better not be relying on that Compass. The whole crew knows it ain't worked since you was saved from the gallows."
Jack Sparrow and Joshamee Gibbs[src]

Ever since he was saved from the gallows, Jack Sparrow began having problems with his compass, to a point where his whole crew knew it hadn't worked properly.[12] at Fort Charles.[8] Jack soon sought to find the fabled Dead Man's Chest, which was said to contain the heart of Davy Jones. After escaping from the Turkish Prison, where he recovered a drawing of a key, Jack would use the compass in finding his next heading. Marty and Gibbs discussed how strange Jack was acting by sailing with no heading, believing that something's got Jack vexed. In the captain's cabin of the Black Pearl, Jack would try to use the compass to continue his search, though was unsuccessful.[13]

Beckett's deal

"So you get both Jack and the Black Pearl?"
"The
Black Pearl?"
"The property you want that he possesses."
"A ship? Hardly. The item in question is considerably smaller and far more valuable. Something Sparrow keeps on his person at all times. A compass. Ah, you know it. Bring back that compass, or there's no deal.
"
Will Turner and Cutler Beckett[src]
DMCJackCompassVisible

The compass on Jack's person at Isla de Pelegostos.

The power of the compass would attract the attention of Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company, who wanted to use it for the same reason: to find the Dead Man's Chest. However, Beckett's plans for the chest were different. With the chest in his possession, Beckett could gain command over Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman—which, in turn, would give him control of the sea, providing him the resources to wipe out piracy in the world. To this end, he enlisted Will Turner, an acquaintance of Jack Sparrow, to recover the compass and bring it to him, in exchange for the freedom for him and his fianceé, Elizabeth Swann.[13]

Will would indeed find Jack, with the compass on his person, at Isla de Pelegostos, where he was evading the Kraken. After escaping the cannibal natives known as the Pelegostos, Will confronted Jack about his need for the compass. Jack agreed to give Will the compass, but only if he would help find the key.[13]

Finding the key and the chest

"Why doesn't your compass work?"
"My compass works fine.
"
Elizabeth Swann and Jack Sparrow[src]
Jack finds his headding

Jack finds his heading in Tortuga.

Seeking help from the mystic Tia Dalma, she asked Jack on why he couldn't have just used the compass to lead him to the key. She then realized that either Jack didn't know what he wanted or he knew but are loath to claim it as his own. With the information they gathered from Tia Dalma, Jack and Will were able to find the Flying Dutchman. Soon Will was eventually shangheid aboard the Dutchman while Jack was sent by Jones to collect 99 souls in three days.[13]

While gathering souls at Tortuga, Jack tried to get the compass to work but with no success. Upon meeting with Elizabeth Swann at Tortuga's docks, accompanied by former commodore James Norrington, Jack decided to use her. By using her need to save Will from a fate aboard the Dutchman, Jack convinced her to use the compass to find Jones' chest in order to save Will. This plan was successful as Jack finally found his next heading. However, throughout the voyage, Elizabeth's use of the compass would have it pointing to Jack.[13]

Jack, Elizabeth and Norrington arrived to Isla Cruces in their search for the chest. After a misunderstanding on which direction the compass's needle pointed at, Jack and Elizabeth were able to find the exact spot that the chest was buried. However, after a battle ensued, the chest was ultimately taken by Dutchman's crewmen and the heart of Davy Jones ended up in Lord Beckett's possession by Norrington's hand.[13]

During the Kraken's second attack on the Black Pearl, Jack was rowing quickly away, unhappy as he looked back at his ship. Glancing over between his destination and the Pearl, Jack picked up his compass, opened it and looked at it, staring down at the reading courses. Ultimately, Jack returned aboard the Pearl.[13]

War on Piracy

"If Turner wasn't acting on your behalf, then how did he come to give me this? You made a deal with me, Jack, to deliver the pirates. And here they are."
Cutler Beckett[src]
SparrowsCompass

Jack using his compass in Davy Jones' Locker.

When Jack Sparrow was taken to Davy Jones' Locker by the Kraken, the compass went along with him. After he was found by his crew, led by Hector Barbossa, he planned on using the compass to escape on his own, leaving Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, Pintel and Ragetti. Unfortunately, the compass only spun in circles due to the fact that the compass was useless in the other world, partly because Jack had, at that point, gone mad. And so Jack was forced to bring them along aboard the Black Pearl, as Barbossa had the navigational charts owned by Sao Feng in his possession.[14]

Later, after escaping the Locker, the Pearl was captured by the Empress and the Endeavour. In negotiations between Jack and Cutler Beckett aboard the Endeavour, Beckett questioned his use for Jack if he had the compass in his possession. Jack pointed out that the thing Beckett wanted most wasn't the Brethren Court, but to have Jack Sparrow himself dead. Realizing it to be true, Beckett then thought to kill Jack so the compass would lead him to Brethren's meeting in Shipwreck Cove. However, Jack was able to convince him otherwise, stating he would find the Cove nigh impregnable. Before negotiations could continue, Jack escaped from the Endeavour onto the Pearl, but not before promising that he would lead Beckett to the Cove.[14]

"Jack has sailed the Black Pearl to Shipwreck Cove."
"And with you no longer aboard her, how do you propose to lead us there?"
"...What is it you want most?
"
Will Turner and Cutler Beckett[src]

At some point in the Pearl's voyage to Shipwreck Cove, Jack gave his compass to Will Turner, telling him to think like him, before stranding him in the ocean. Will would soon be picked up by the Endeavour, where he made a deal with Beckett and Jones, which allowed them to use the compass to find Shipwreck Cove. During the parley on a sandbar, Beckett returned the compass to Jack, having led his assembled armada for attack.[14]

The Fountain of Youth

AWEJackCompassFountainSearch

Jack using the compass to begin his search for the Fountain of Youth.

After the battle of Calypso's maelstrom, the Black Pearl was commandeered by Hector Barbossa. Anticipating this betrayal, Jack took part of Sao Feng's charts and employed his compass to begin his search for the Fountain of Youth. Although the compass pointed to a bottle of rum before his voyage, indicating that Jack wanted rum more than the Fountain at the time.[14] Jack used the compass during his quest for the Fountain of Youth until he eventually memorized the route to the Fountain. After which, Jack only kept the compass on his person for the next several years.[15]

Finding the Santiago

"What I want first...is Ponce de León's ship."
Jack Sparrow[src]
Upsidedowncompass

The compass used to find Ponce de León's ship.

Sometime after being shangheid aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, Jack Sparrow was forced to lead the search for the Fountain by Blackbeard. Jack led the search on an island with the help of the compass. After happening upon a jungle chasm, Jack told Blackbeard the way to the Fountain before Blackbeard took the compass for himself and forced Sparrow to jump in the chasm and find the Santiago.[15]

As Sparrow made his way to the Santiago to retrieve the Chalices of Cartagena, Blackbeard's crew continued their search for the Fountain, with Blackbeard's daughter, Angelica, holding the compass. After meeting with Jack, he negotiated the return of his compass, which he gave to Joshamee Gibbs to lead him to "freedom".[15]

Retrieving the Pearl

"This will lead you to freedom, mate."
Jack Sparrow to Joshamee Gibbs[src]

With the help of the compass, Gibbs was able to find the Queen Anne's Revenge. Sneaking aboard the Revenge, Gibbs used the compass to find and retrieve a bottled Black Pearl, as well as an entire fleet of ships in bottles. After meeting up with Jack, Gibbs noted of the compass's usefulness of his successful retrieval of Jack's beloved Pearl.[15]The further use of Jack's compass is unknown.

"The compass led me straight and true."
Joshamee Gibbs to Jack Sparrow[src]

Design and usage

Jacks compass

Jack Sparrow's compass in The Curse of the Black Pearl.

"My compass...is unique."
"'Unique' here having the meaning of 'broken'.
"
Jack Sparrow and James Norrington[src]

Jack's compass, obtained from Tia Dalma, was a compact device whose domed cover was made from pure lapis lazuli. The inside lid was detailed with a map of the heavens, the central shadow vane makes compass work as a sundial, and the compass disk itself was sliced from a walrus's tusk.[11]

Unlike other compasses, Jack's compass didn't point north, but it had supernatural qualities. The compass could not be used to navigate in a conventional sense, but it does direct the owner to whatever he or she wanted most at the moment.[11], even if the bearer in question does not know the actual location of their desires, making the compass an invaluable tool for purposes like treasure-hunting and navigation. The effect of the compass was not limited to finding locations and objects, but could also indicate the user's desire towards another person,[13] even if that person wanted him or her dead.[14]

"Jack, remember, I have this wonderful Compass that points to whatever I want."
"Points to what you want
most. And that's not the Brethren Court, is it?"
"No? Then what is, Jack?
"Me. Dead."
"Damn. It occurs: if I got what I wanted most, then wouldn't what I wanted second most become the thing I wanted most? With you dead, I can find...Shipwreck Cove, was it? On my own. Cut out the middle man, as it were...literally.
"
Cutler Beckett and Jack Sparrow[src]

The compass proved useful in many of Jack's adventures. Jack used the compass during his search for the Treasure of Cortés, the Dead Man's Chest, and the Fountain of Youth. However, at some points in his adventures, the compass sometimes acted uselessly to Jack. During his search for the Dead Man's Chest, Jack was vexed, which forced him to give it to Elizabeth Swann who was able to find the chest. Jack tried to use the compass to find a way out of Davy Jones' Locker, but it only spinned around, as the way to escape the Locker was only by flipping over.[14]

Jack used the compass during his search for the Fountain of Youth until he eventually memorized the route. He was eventually forced to lead the search for the Fountain by Blackbeard, who later took possession of the compass whom he gave to his daughter, Angelica, to use. The compass later fell into the hands of Jack's first mate, Joshamee Gibbs, who retrieved the Black Pearl for Jack.[15]

Behind the scenes

"No additional shot nor powder, a compass that doesn't point north..."
James Norrington while examining Jack's pistol and compass.[src]

Appearances

Wiki
The Pirates of the Caribbean wiki has a collection of images and media related to Jack Sparrow's compass.

Sources

Notes and references

  1. Jack Sparrow would have bartered the compass from Tia Dalma prior to The Price of Freedom, which takes place when Jack is twenty-five years old and he was born in the 1700s.
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest DVD commentary; confirmed by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio to be the one thing the user "wants" at that moment, not their "heart's desire" as certain promotional materials claim.
  3. Jack Sparrow: City of Gold
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Curse of the Black Pearl Audio Commentary with Writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 The Price of Freedom
  6. The compass doesn't appear in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Legends of the Brethren Court series.
  7. The Pirates' Guidelines, p102.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  9. Ten years earlier, Jack showed up in Tortuga. He was captain of the Black Pearl, he was going after the treasure of Isla de Muerta. And he had the compass. Because Remember, Gibbs says he gave up the bearings which meant he knew where it was and you can only know where it is if you already know where it is and so he had to have already had the compass. - Ted Elliott
  10. The Compass of Destiny!
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p14-15: "Pirate Possessions"
  12. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p.84
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  16. Get a Sneak Peek at A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas at Magic Kingdom Park << Disney Parks Blog
  17. Dead Man's Chest - Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio

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