In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jack dives into the water to save Elizabeth, and cuts off her corset, which was preventing her from breathing. However, when Norrington and Governor Swann arrive, they immediately treat Jack as a threat.

The scene starts at 1:28:

Jack: Move! [shoves him aside, cuts open corset and Elizabeth spits out water and gasps for breath]

Mullroy: Never would've thought of that.

Jack: Clearly you've never been to Singapore . [sees medallion, to Elizabeth ] Where did you get that?

Norrington: [to Jack, pointing his sword at him] On your feet.

Governor Swann: [helps Elizabeth up] Elizabeth . Are you alright?

Elizabeth: Yes, I'm fine.

Governor Swann: [sees Murtogg holding Elizabeth 's corset; Murtogg points at Jack; Swann looks over at Jack ] Shoot him!

Elizabeth: Father! Commodore, do you really intend to kill my rescuer?

Norrington: I believe thanks are in order. [offers his hand to shake; reveals "P" for pirate] Had a brush with the East India Trading company, did we, pirate?

Governor Swann: Hang him.

Norrington: Keep your guns on him, men. Gillette, fetch some irons. [sees tattoo of a sparrow in flight] Well, well. Jack Sparrow, isn't it?

Jack: Captain Jack Sparrow, if you please, sir.

Norrington: Well, I don't see your ship, Captain.

Jack: I'm in the market as it were.

Murtogg: He said he'd come to commandeer one.

Mullroy: Told ya he was telling the truth. These are his, sir. [hands him Jack's effects]

Norrington: No additional shots nor powder. A compass that doesn't point north. [unsheathes sword] And I half expected it to be made of wood. You are without doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of.

Jack: But you have heard of me. [is pulled along to be put in chains]

Why is Governor Swann immediately hostile? Did they not witness Jack save her life? Are they reacting based on Jack's appearance or the fact that he's holding the medallion or tore her corset?

2 Answers 2


I can't find anything about this for Pirates specifically, but I am certain the answer has to do with a father's desire to protect his daughters virtue, as well as social expectations of women at the time.

Governer Swann did not know that Jack Sparrow was a pirate when Elizabeth was first pulled out of the water. What he did know was that:

  • His daughter had her dress and corset removed
  • The man who removed them was at the very least lower class, given his dress and manner of speech, etc...

Governer Swann was an English gentlemen living out in the outskirts of the British Empire. Not only was he concerned with the honor and virtue of his daughter, he was concerned that she be able to make a socially and politically acceptable match for a husband. If there were any question about her worthiness such a match might be jeopardized.

Women were continually instructed that their spiritual and social worth resided above all else in their practice of and reputation for chastity. https://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/17century/topic_1/welcome.htm

Essentially he felt what Jack did was inappropriate, even though it saved his daughter, and in order for balance to be restored and her honor to remain unquestioned he wanted Jack shot as punishment, and maybe a warning to others.

This is further reinforced by the look of relief in his eyes and the triumph in his tone when he learns Jack is a pirate, as now he doesn't even need an excuse to punish Jack, his life as a Pirate warrants it.

  • It feels insane in this day and age to think that he was that concerned with honor and virtue, but this feels right, especially considering the shot of Governor Swann glaring at Murtogg holding the torn corset. Oct 21, 2016 at 17:31

Jack Sparrow was notorious pirate of that time. This is enough for Governer to be hostile.

From Wikia

Back on the harbor, Jack's interest is piqued by the medallion, but his questions are forestalled by Norrington, who arrives with marines to arrest the pirate, having recognized a brand on his forearm as the mark used by the East India Trading Company to identify pirates. Jack, however, holds Elizabeth hostage long enough to have his effects returned before making his swashbuckling escape into the port.

  • Is it good now , was finding content with reference as answer is so simple
    – Panther
    Oct 21, 2016 at 7:36
  • The content you just added is still not good enough. The only case governor would say this If he knew and recognized Jack already because, as you said, Jack Sparrow was notorious pirate of that time. However, we're not sure if he did.
    – A J
    Oct 21, 2016 at 7:40
  • Need to find something better , but my impression is same.
    – Panther
    Oct 21, 2016 at 7:42
  • Another possibility can be that he might have considered him as a threat to Elizabeth, his daughter and ordered to shoot him.
    – A J
    Oct 21, 2016 at 7:53
  • 2
    I think Norrington recognized Jack, but even he needed to pull up his sleeve and reveal the tattoo to confirm it. Can we really assume that Governor Swann recognized him? Oct 21, 2016 at 7:57

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