James Norrington, what has the world done to you?—Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
James Norrington was an English officer in the Royal Navy, achieving the rank of Commodore prior to the attack on Port Royal by the Black Pearl. He was later awarded the rank of admiral in the East India Trading Company, and assumed command of Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman on behalf of Lord Cutler Beckett during the war against piracy.
—James Norrington to Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
James Norrington was a kind and noble man, though he often appeared to be stoic and slightly snobbish. To his friends and colleagues, however, he showed great respect and grace, especially to Elizabeth Swann, with whom he had fallen in love. He was completely devoted to the Royal Navy, and would often forsake his own personal needs for the greater good. He harbored an intense dislike of pirates and their kind, and saw himself as something of a purveyor of justice to pirates in the Caribbean.
Norrington served in the Royal Navy as a lieutenant, and was stationed aboard HMS Dauntless as it made the crossing from England, carrying Governor Weatherby Swann and his daughter, Elizabeth, to Port Royal. Upon sighting a wrecked merchant vessel in the water, Norrington ordered his men to search the wreckage. He was so preoccupied with this that he did not notice the Black Pearl slipping away from the scene.
I, uh, apologize if I seem forward, but I must speak my mind. This promotion throws into sharp relief that which I have not yet achieved. A marriage to a fine woman. You have become a fine woman, Elizabeth.—James Norrington to Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The ship would once more play a part in Norrington's life some eight years later. By this time, Norrington had become Captain of the HMS Interceptor and due to his service, was set to achieve the rank of Commodore. The ceremony was held at Fort Charles in Port Royal, drawing a large crowd. Among those gathered was Elizabeth Swann, whom Norrington had first met on the crossing from England, and had developed a friendship with over the past eight years. However, Norrington was also in love with Elizabeth, and, since he believed a wife was the only thing missing in his life, wished for her hand in marriage.
The newly-promoted Commodore attempted to propose to Elizabeth atop the fortress, following the ceremony. However, Elizabeth, apparently overcome by the proposal—though actually having fainted due to the constricting corset she had been forced into—toppled over the side of the fortress and into the sea far below. Shocked, Norrington gathered his men and raced down to the harbor, where he found Elizabeth in the arms of a man in the distinctive garb of a pirate. Elizabeth's rescuer turned out to be Captain Jack Sparrow, whom Norrington took into custody, set for hanging despite his recent good deed. However, Sparrow managed to briefly escape Norrington's clutches until he was subdued in a blacksmith's shop in the town.
Commodore Norrington had Sparrow imprisoned, but it was not the end of his troubles with pirates. That night, Port Royal was attacked by the Black Pearl, and though Norrington's men fought valiantly, the town was overwhelmed, and Elizabeth was captured. The next day, Norrington and his men attempted to formulate a plan to locate the Pearl, but were unsuccessful. The situation escalated further when Will Turner freed Jack Sparrow from the dungeons and helped him commandeer the HMS Interceptor to track down the Black Pearl. Norrington was forced to watch the pirates sail away with the ship, grudgingly admitting Jack's unexpected competency.
Think about it: The Black Pearl. The last real pirate threat in the Caribbean, mate. How can you pass that up?"
"By remembering that I serve others, Mr. Sparrow, not only myself.—Jack Sparrow and James Norrington, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Norrington was not about to give in, however. He had the Dauntless—whose rudder chain had been disabled by Sparrow during his escape—repaired, and set sail, now with three objectives; to reclaim the Interceptor, to capture Jack Sparrow and to rescue Elizabeth. Although the Interceptor was ultimately destroyed by Captain Hector Barbossa's crew, Norrington was able to achieve two of his goals when his men sighted a distress signal on a desert island. It transpired that both Elizabeth and Jack had been marooned on the island by Barbossa, while the Black Pearl set out for Isla de Muerta with Will Turner.
Norrington had Jack placed under arrest, though despite Elizabeth's protests, refused to launch a rescue of Will, since it had not been his intention to follow the Pearl at all, other than if in doing so it would have ensured Elizabeth's safety. However, Elizabeth asked that Norrington change his mind for her, as a wedding gift. Norrington was stunned and delighted that Elizabeth had accepted his proposal, and agreed to her plea, even going so far as to ask for Jack's assistance in locating Isla de Muerta.
Battle with the Black PearlEdit
The ship is ours, gentlemen.—James Norrington, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Upon arrival at Isla de Muerta, however, Norrington was less than happy about the situation, especially since Jack Sparrow appeared to be controlling proceedings. Although Norrington agreed to wait outside the mouth of the pirate cave in order to ambush Barbossa's men as they emerged, the Commodore actually had no intention of following Sparrow's directives. Instead, he rowed out with a selection of his men to the island, leaving Lieutenant Gillette in command of the Dauntless. Because of this, Norrington remained unaware that the pirates were actually infiltrating the flagship and killing his crew. It was only when one of his crewmen managed to ring the ship's bell that Norrington realized what had happened.
He ordered his men to row back to the Dauntless, where they engaged the pirates in battle. Norrington himself dueled Koehler in single combat, proving to be a match for the immortal pirate. The situation seemed hopeless until Will Turner managed to reverse the curse from within the island, thus making the pirates mortal once more. Norrington killed Koehler, and in doing so realized the curse had been lifted. He proclaimed the Dauntless was theirs once more, and cries of jubilation rang out on its decks as the surviving pirates surrendered.
Return to Port RoyalEdit
This is a beautiful sword. I would expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in every aspect of his life.—James Norrington to William Turner, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The Commodore ordered a return to Port Royal, where the pirates would be imprisoned. Jack Sparrow was likewise captured, and sentenced for execution. Norrington himself presided over the execution ceremony at Fort Charles, and was ready to order his marines into position when Will Turner attempted his rescue of Sparrow. However, Elizabeth pretended to faint during the chaos, drawing Norrington's attention and allowing Sparrow to escape from the gallows.
The Commodore finally caught up with him and Turner out on the battlements, where he was shocked by Elizabeth's decision to stand with Will, in protection of Jack against Norrington. James asked Elizabeth if this was truly her heart's desire, which she affirmed. Norrington accepted this with surprisingly good grace, though was at a loss as to what course of action to take when Sparrow escaped into the open waters. He wished Elizabeth and Will good luck, and even decided to postpone pursuit of Jack for at least another day. With that, he left the scene, his stunned men following on.
Life as a pirateEdit
My story? It's exactly the same as your story, just one chapter behind. I chased a man across the Seven Seas. The pursuit cost me my crew, my commission, and my life.—James Norrington to Joshamee Gibbs, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
While pursuing Jack Sparrow, Norrington's ship was believed to have been destroyed by a hurricane off Tripoli. Disgraced, Norrington resigned his post and disappeared. This was good luck on Norrington's part, because no one knew where he was when Lord Cutler Beckett appeared, with a warrant for his arrest for his part in Captain Jack Sparrow's escape.
During this time Norrington became a changed man, he started drinking heavily, and was found still wearing his Commodore uniform, albeit now rags, in Tortuga, where he applied for a position on the Black Pearl, to become a pirate himself. He became largely concerned with regaining his honor in any way possible, however, and about getting revenge on the people that he believed ruined his life.
During his time on the Pearl Norrington did not believe Jack was telling the truth about the Chest of Davy Jones, until he actually saw the Chest and heard the heart beating within it. He seemed to have found out or guessed how Will Turner ended up on the Flying Dutchman, and also noticed the growing relationship between Jack and Elizabeth.
Duel on Isla CrucesEdit
Lord Beckett desires the contents of that chest. I deliver it, I get my life back."
"Ah. The dark side of ambition."
"Oh, I prefer to see it as the promise of redemption.—James Norrington and Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Upon arriving on Isla Cruces, Norrington became embroiled in a three way sword fight with Jack Sparrow and Will Turner. During the confusion, Norrington managed to steal Davy Jones' heart. Later, Norrington ran away with the empty Dead Man's Chest, pretending to create a diversion so that the crew of the Black Pearl could escape. In reality, he gave the chest to Davy Jones men, who believed that the heart was contained inside it.
"You summoned me, Lord Beckett."
"Yes. Something for you there. Your new station deserves an old friend.
Later, Norrington used the heart of Davy Jones, along with the Letters of Marque to regain his honor, through service to Cutler Beckett, whom he gave the heart to. It was a decision he would later come to regret. Beckett promoted him to the rank of admiral for the East India Company's fleet. Now under the employ of East India Trading Company, Norrington was given back his sword, and with it he helped command Beckett's armada.
After Lord Beckett had become frustrated with Davy Jones for killing all his prey and leaving no survivors for interrogation, he placed Admiral Norrington in command of the Flying Dutchman in order to ensure that Jones did as commanded. He also decided to have Jones' heart placed onboard the Flying Dutchman to further ensure Jones's compliance. Norrington's marines kept a constant vigil over the heart.
The Assault on the EmpressEdit
Elizabeth! Thank God you're alive. Your father will be overjoyed to know you're safe."
"My father's dead."
"No, that can't be; he returned to England."
"Did Lord Beckett tell you that?—James Norrington and Elizabeth Swann on Governor Swann's fate., Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
After the Empress attacked the HMS Endeavour and fled, Beckett ordered the Flying Dutchman to pursue. Norrington led the boarding party, and was reunited with Elizabeth onboard. Just then he was happy to see Elizabeth alive, as was Elizabeth, until she recalled that Norrington was now allied with her adversaries. She angrily accused him of choosing the side that murdered her father. Norrington was shocked to hear of this, and was also shocked that Elizabeth had become a pirate captain. Norrington then ordered the prisoners put into the brig and offered Elizabeth his quarters, but Elizabeth declined, choosing instead to be with her crew, and as far from Norrington as possible. Norrington pleaded with Elizabeth to understand that he did not know what atrocities Lord Beckett had ordered to be carried out, but Elizabeth would hear none of it.
Our destinies have been entwined Elizabeth, but never joined.—James Norrington to Elizabeth Swann , Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
In an effort to right his wrong, Norrington reevaluated his position and freed Elizabeth and her crew from the Flying Dutchman's brig. While Elizabeth was still angry with him, he insisted that he had no part in the death of her father, that he lamented his other misdeeds, and that nothing really could be done about them. Elizabeth requested that he go with her, when William "Bootstrap Bill" Turner came in from the brig; in his delirious state, Bootstrap believed that Norrington was betraying the crew. Norrington drew out his sword to fend Bootstrap off, and told Elizabeth that he would follow her to escape. Elizabeth doubted he was telling the truth, but Norrington made clear that though their destinies had been entwined, they had not been joined, kissed Elizabeth, and at that Elizabeth was coaxed away. Norrington tried desperately to send Bootstrap Bill away, but Norrington's command over the ship was not binding. When Bootstrap started to advance towards him, Norrington shot the escape rope, forcing Elizabeth to leave him behind.
Bootstrap took advantage of the moment and stabbed Norrington in the gut. All the commotion was heard by Davy Jones and the other crew, and in his final moments, Jones asked him if he feared death. Norrington defiantly speared Jones in the shoulder with his sword before passing away. Admiring his sword, Jones kept Norrington's blade for himself. It is unknown what happened with Norrington's body.
Behind the scenesEdit
- James Norrington is portrayed by Jack Davenport.
- On the DVD commentary of The Curse of the Black Pearl, the scriptwriters revealed that Norrington was highly skilled with a sword, and was the equal of Hector Barbossa, with only Will Turner surpassing him in ability.
- Norrington's name is mentioned in Kingdom Hearts II: in the Pirates of the Caribbean world, the cannons located at Port Royal bear the message, "To be used in case of pirate attack – Commodore Norrington".
- Writer Terry Rossio considers Norrington to be a "good guy" on the basis that "a character who's good is one who would make a moral choice once they know all the facts versus a character who would knowingly make an immoral choice".
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow: Sins of the Fathers
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (First appearance)
- The Accidental Pirate! (Mentioned only)
- The Capture of Jack Sparrow!
- In Jack We Trust!
- The Buccaneer's Heart!
- Breakout! (Indirect mention only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (video game)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- Kingdom Hearts II (Non-canonical appearance) (Mentioned only)
Notes and referencesEdit
|Crew of the HMS Dauntless|