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Your Turn: Gilligan

From Gilligan's Island, created by Sherwood Schwartz
Nominated by Thomas Siegman

Bob Denver as Gilligan

Sorry, Skipper: Was Gilligan (Bob Denver) the devil in disguise? Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Poor castaways. Each week they would devise a way off the island. Each week Gilligan would thwart their escape — usually with the best of intentions.

Years after the show ended, its creator, Sherwood Schwartz, admitted that each of the characters represented one of the seven deadly sins — Pride (the Professor), Anger (Skipper), Lust, (Ginger), and the rest. Gilligan was supposed to be Sloth.

But a closer viewing indicates that the island may well have been Hell — and the red-clad Gilligan the devil who kept them on his island.

The greatest part of the metaphor, though, is that if the others ever wanted to get off the island, what they needed to do was kill Gilligan — and that each of us has our own inner Gilligan, that sweet-natured, well-meaning part of us that always sabotages us from getting what we really want.

Maybe if we truly want to succeed in life, we need to kill our own inner Gilligan.



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1. Lust = Ginger
2. Gluttony = Mrs. Howell?
3. Greed = Mr. Howell?
4. Sloth = Gilligan
5. Wrath = Skipper
6. Envy = Marianne?
7. Pride = The Professor

#3 & 6 make sense to me (Howell is a greedy capitalist, Marianne is always jealous of Ginger), but then that leaves gluttony for Mrs. Howell, which I don't see.

Gilligan should not only have been killed, but cannibalized as well, though I cannot imagine he carried much meat on his bones. Still, you could have made a good stock from them, the bones.

Sent by John Brown | 12:56 PM | 1-25-2008

1. Lust=Ginger
2. Greed=Mr Howell
3. Sloth=Mrs Howell (she never did anything!)
4. Pride=Professor
5. Envy=Maryann
6. Wrath=Skipper.

This leaves Gluttony for Gilligan. And what do we see Gilligan do all the time? Eat. How does Maryann convince him to do stuff? Coconut cream pies. Gilligan is a goof and incompetent, but he also has a high metabolism. He eats more than the Skipper and never gains weight.

Sent by Paul | 9:47 AM | 1-27-2008

A quick search on the net finds agreement with most of your assignations, Paul, though the Skipper often does double duty as both Wrath and Sloth, thereby leaving the red-shirted Gilligan in the role of Satan, the one who confines the castaways to the Hell of the island through his perpetual sabotage of their every escape plan.

What I could not confirm, however, was that Schwartz created the show with the metaphor/allegory in mind.

Whether he did or not, it's certainly an entertaining idea and one that both Dante and Sartre would have appreciated.

Sent by John Brown | 6:15 PM | 1-28-2008

We're not so sure about that claim either -- which helped keep this essay off the air today. (We find it entertaining otherwise.)

Our research library turned up a 1997 story from the Syracuse, N.Y. Post-Standard that had this to say:

Schwartz seemed both honored and amused to hear the characters of "Gilligan's Island" compared to the mythology of the Greek gods. At one point, a student asked him if he had meant for each of the show's seven characters to embody each of the seven deadly sins.

"I developed that idea after everyone said that's what it was," he said with a chuckle."

I'm with John Brown, though, in thinking that Dante probably would've gotten a kick out of the notion. Not so much Sartre; I'm not sure much amused him.

Sent by Trey Graham | 7:21 PM | 1-28-2008

Thanks for all the kind words. Apparently, the Schwartz confirmed the Seven Deadly Sins theory in his book "Inside Gilligan's Island: A Three-Hour Tour Through The Making Of A Television Classic." I have not confirmed this, though.

I heard the "inner Gilligan" theory years ago from my friend Jodie Lane and loved it. I don't know if it was original or if she, in turn, got it from someplace else.

Sent by Thomas Siegman | 9:29 PM | 1-28-2008

Here is what I read:
1. Lust=Ginger
2. Greed/Avarice=Mr Howell
3. Gluttony=Mrs Howell
4. Pride=Professor
5. Envy=Maryann
6. Wrath=Skipper
7. Sloth=Gilligan

Sent by Thomas Siegman | 9:40 PM | 1-28-2008