|Jack Sparrow's compass|
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 and later inherited from his captain. For those who knew how to use it, the compass was the key to everything. Unlike an ordinary compass, Jack's compass pointed to what the owner wanted most, rather than mere magnetic north.
Although it appeared to be nothing more than a useless trinket, 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, the Fountain of Youth, and the Trident of Poseidon.
Trade and inheritance
At some point, Jack Sparrow would barter the compass from Tia Dalma years prior to his search for the treasure of Isla de Muerta. It is unknown what Jack gave to Tia Dalma in exchange for the compass. However, the compass somehow found its way into the hands of Morgan, the pirate captain of the Wicked Wench, under whom Jack was serving at the time. When Morgan was mortally wounded during the battle off the coast of the mysterious Devil's Triangle, he gave the compass to Jack, telling him with his last breath never to betray the compass.
Desiring something that would help him save the Wench and her crew from their attacker, the notorious Spanish pirate hunter Armando Salazar and his dreaded galleon the Silent Mary, Jack took command of the Wench. Following the point of the compass, Jack steered her toward the Triangle. At the last moment Jack tricked Salazar into sailing into the Triangle where all the Spaniards were killed in the explosion of gunpowder when the Silent Mary hit the reefs.
The Price of Freedom
As a young pirate, Jack used the compass on several occasions. 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.
When Jack 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. 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.
When he returned to piracy, Jack used the compass to steer the Black Pearl to Shipwreck Island, where he became a Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea. He didn't use the compass during the quest for the Shadow Gold.
Isla de Muerta
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. 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. When Jack was marooned, he was thrown overboard with the compass in possession.
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.
Some time later, Jack and his crew were sitting in a tavern, where Jack told them that Tia Dalma gave him the compass shortly before his search for the Treasure of Cortés as a sign of gratitude for saving her from the vicious Admiral Royce of the East India Trading Company. However, as Jack acquired the compass a few years prior to becoming an infamous pirate, this particular story was obviously false, 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.
Dead Man's Chest
Beginning the search
- "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
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. At Fort Charles 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.
- "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
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.
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.
Finding the key and the chest
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 shanghaied aboard the Dutchman while Jack was sent by Jones to collect 99 souls in three days.
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.
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.
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 of an island and the Kraken's attack on the Pearl at sea, Jack picked up his compass, opened it and looked at it, staring down at the reading courses. Ultimately, the compass still in possession, Jack returned aboard the Pearl.
War on Piracy
When the Kraken dragged Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl to the depths, with Jack himself taken body and soul to Davy Jones' Locker, the compass went along with him. After reuniting with his crew, led by Hector Barbossa, Jack had no intention of sailing with them all and planned on using the compass to escape Davy Jones' Locker on his own, leaving behind Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, Pintel and Ragetti. Unfortunately, the compass only spun in circles, with the needle spinning wildly, due to the fact that the compass was useless in the other world, partly because Jack had, at that point, gone mad. And so, with the compass being of little use while in the Locker, Jack was forced to bring them all along aboard the Black Pearl, as Barbossa had the only map that could help: the navigational charts owned by Sao Feng in his possession.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Finding the Santiago
Sometime after being shanghaied 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.
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".
Retrieving the Pearl
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.
- "Jack Sparrow. Jack Sparrow has given away the compass!"
- ―Armando Salazar
One year after the quest for the Fountain of Youth, Jack Sparrow was still in possession of the compass and in command of a small ship called the Dying Gull, but his luck had run out as all of his ventures ended miserably. Following a failed bank robbery in Saint Martin Jack was abandoned by his crew. Left alone on the beached Dying Gull Jack pulled out the compass. Seeing that the compass was pointing toward the sea, Jack put the bottled Black Pearl on the stern rail.
A few hours later, feeling like he had hit rock bottom, Jack decided to drown his sorrow in alcohol. He entered the Grimes Pub and ordered a bottle of rum. Since he was penniless he offered the barman to trade his compass for the rum. The compass reacted to that action as a betrayal and loosened its hold on the Devil's Triangle, releasing from it every pirate's greatest fear - the notorious Spanish capitán Armando Salazar and his crew of pirate hunters, now turned into a terrifying army of ghosts. When it was thrown into Grimes' collection, the point started spinning around, which allowed Jack Sparrow to take a last look at it. Shortly after, in unknown circumstances, the compass ended up in possession of Shansa, the witch who was occasionally doing favors to the pirate captain Hector Barbossa and the British colonial authorities of Saint Martin.
In Barbossa's hands
When Salazar and his ghost ship the Silent Mary began destroying Barbossa's fleet ship by ship, sending his treasure to the bottom of the ocean, Barbossa came to Shansa to seek advice from her. Shansa told him that the main target of Salazar's hunt was Jack Sparrow, who would soon sail to find the Trident of Poseidon, because the legendary object was his only hope to defeat Salazar. Shansa then gave Barbossa Jack's compass, telling him that if he leads the undead Spaniards to Jack, all of his lost treasure would be returned to him.
The next day, Barbossa's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, encountered the Silent Mary on the open sea. Even though Salazar's men killed some of Barbossa's pirates, Salazar agreed to spare Barbossa and the rest of them if Barbossa leads him to Jack Sparrow. With the compass leading him in Jack's direction, Barbossa steered the Silent Mary until the next morning, when they found Jack's ship, the Dying Gull, off the coast of Hangman's Bay. However, the Spanish ghosts were unable to capture Jack who escaped on land where Salazar and his men could not follow him. Salazar was forced to release Barbossa and his men so they could capture Jack.
Back in Jack's hands
Following the deaths of Hector Barbossa and Armando Salazar, Jack the monkey returned the compass to Jack Sparrow as a gesture of peace. With his compass and ship restored to him, Jack resumed his adventures aboard the Black Pearl.
Design and power
Jack's compass, bartered from Tia Dalma and inherited from the captain on the Wicked Wench, 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 made the compass work as a sundial, and the compass disk itself was sliced from a walrus's tusk.
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., even if the bearer in question does not know the actual location or nature 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, even if that person wanted him or her dead.
- "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?
"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
However, the compass also seemed to have a special supernatural connection with its owner, to whom it would obey willingly and blindly for as long as the owner was loyal to the compass in return. The compass also would always conspire to help the owner's inner desires even while in possession of another individual, as seen how the compass led Elizabeth Swann to the Dead Man's chest even when Will Turner had already escaped Davy Jones' ship (in normal circumstances, the compass would've changed directions to point Will himself as Elizabeth's most inner desire was to save him). This was also proven when the compass led Joshamee Gibbs to the Black Pearl instead of literal freedom (Gibbs most inner desire ever since he was captured in England was to become a free man once more. Instead, the compass led him to the Pearl, Jack's personal definition of freedom).
But while the compass was extremely loyal to its owner, if the owner dared to betray the compass' loyalty by dishonorably trading it or giving it away without expecting it to return, the magical object would unleash the previous owner's greatest fear in retaliation. When it comes to this punishment, the reach of the compass' powers was so incredibly vast and powerful that it could release powerful specific forces wherever in the world, as Jack found out when the compass released Captain Salazar from his personal hell, very far away from his current position at the time.
The compass' retribution seemed to have no effect when it was willingly and honorably passed away to a successor as seen by how the first captain of the Wicked Wench passed the compass to his successor, Jack, before dying, knowing that the compass will be in good hands whilst in Jack's possession and trusting that the latter would only use it for the sake of their ship and crew. In a similar way, the witch Shansa gave the compass to Hector Barbossa as a gift in order to save him from the wrath of Salazar, probably on account that she did not obtain the compass with the intent of claiming ownership over it indefinitely and thus reaping no consequence upon herself in so doing.
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, on account that it guides the owner/holder to their greatest desire; hence, should the current possessor be indecisive as to what they truly want, the compass's needle would point or even spin about erratically as a consequence. 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 escape Davy Jones' Locker, but only for the needle spin wildly. The strange realm of the dead was too mysterious for this magical object due to the fact that the compass was useless in the other world, and partly because Jack had, at that point, gone mad.
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.
Jack lost or loaned away the compass in nine different occasions. Six times it was taken from him when captured, one time he gave it to Elizabeth Swann in order to find the Dead Man’s Chest, one time to Will Turner to lead Lord Cutler Beckett to Shipwreck Cove, and one time to Joshamee Gibbs for him to find the Black Pearl. In all these occasions, Jack fully expected to get the compass back somehow, therefore never betraying the compass in the process.
A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, or Rose of the Winds, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart, or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions (North, South, East and West).
The compass of Jack Sparrow had two Windroses.
Behind the scenes
- The exact timeline of when Jack Sparrow bartered the compass from Tia Dalma was unknown for many years. However, it was known that Jack got it at least ten years prior to the events of The Curse of the Black Pearl, as well as prior to the events of The Price of Freedom. It was revealed in Dead Men Tell No Tales, that an 18 year old Sparrow acquired the compass from his fallen captain Morgan.
- The compass that Laura Smith uses in Jack Sparrow: City of Gold isn't the same compass which Jack Sparrow uses in The Price of Freedom and in the movies as power to show a way to what one desires is never attached to this compass. It is proven when compass is explained to only show the location of La Fleur de la Morte (when it has its sails unfurled and is invisible) by Jack, who thinks to himself that he needs to get a magical compass similar to this one. It is just an easter egg to the movies.
- In the Disney Parks, Jack Sparrow's compass appears in several Disney attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, in which the compass hangs on Jack's belt or is used by Jack himself. In A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, Jack's compass guides new pirate recruits on a raid throughout Adventureland to collect valuable treasures.
- On the Dead Man's Chest DVD commentary, writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio note that the compass only points in Jack's "direction" when Elizabeth holds it, not at Jack himself, and on Isla Cruces, continually points at the location of the Chest, despite Elizabeth believing it is pointing at Jack.
- In one of the earlier versions of the Dead Men Tell No Tales script Armando Salazar was the original owner of the compass. Some of the production photos show the uncursed Salazar holding the compass but that scene was eventually cut.
- During the back-to-back productions of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, a red fleur de lis was added as a pointer because the compass became a more important prop.
- In a deleted scene from The Curse of the Black Pearl following his and Elizabeth's rescue from Rumrunner's Isle Jack Sparrow temporarily gave the compass to James Norrington so he could find a way to Isla de Muerta.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, the compass reveals the Keyhole of the Port Royal world's Gate, allowing Sora, the game's protagonist, to move on to the next world.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (ride)
- The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
- A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas
- Jack Sparrow: City of Gold
- The Price of Freedom
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (First appearance)
- Smoke on the Water
- Revenge of the Pirates!
- The Eye of Despair!
- The Eyes Have It!
- The Compass of Destiny!
- Tears of the Goddess
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Kingdom Hearts II (Non-canonical appearance)
- Fantasmic! (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance)
- Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life (Non-canonical appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)
- The Price of Freedom
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
Notes and references
- Jack Sparrow would have bartered the compass from Tia Dalma prior to the flashback scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which takes place when Jack was eighteen years old. The timeline established in On Stranger Tides (which takes place in 1750) and Dead Men Tell No Tales (which takes place in 1751) sets the flashback scene around 1708.
- The Curse of the Black Pearl Audio Commentary with Writers Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom
- The compass does not appear in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Legends of the Brethren Court series.
- The Pirates' Guidelines, p102.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- 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
- The Compass of Destiny!
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p14-15: "Pirate Possessions"
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p.84
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- As evidenced by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Movie Graphic Novel, the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are set in 1751.
- In an interview for Empire Magazine Jerry Bruckheimer revealed that Jack Sparrow was 18 when he trapped Salazar in the Devil's Triangle.
- Rob Kidd aka T.T. Sutherland is prone to adding Easter eggs to the movies in the Young Jack Sparrow novels, to the point when sometimes characters from the books directly quote lines from the movies, or make references to events in the movies that didn't yet happen for Jack - for example when Jack gets idea from the future to travel under overturned boat.
- Get a Sneak Peek at A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas at Magic Kingdom Park << Disney Parks Blog
- Dead Man's Chest - Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Behind the Scenes, p33.
- Salazar at the helm of the Silent Mary looks at the compass.