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Relationship Deep Dive: Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean
©Disney

Type: Romantic
Films: Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Franchise
Featured Characters: Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann

“Dearly beloved, we be gathered here today… TO NAIL YER GIZZARDS TO THE MAST, YE POXY CUR!!” Oh, to have every wedding officiated by Captain Barbossa–it’ll certainly never be boring, that’s for sure. Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann undoubtedly are the epitome of an epic romance, especially since they get married during a violent battle full of bloodshed and explosions as they sail in a dangerous maelstrom. Bombastic wedding aside, Will and Elizabeth’s relationship and its journey prove that love can be long-lasting and always finds a way.

Nothing about Will and Elizabeth’s relationship is conventional. From their first meeting where Elizabeth spots him floating in the open ocean to their fateful reunion with their son, nothing about their romance has ever been simple or straightforward. (Case in point: they were married by the man who attempted to kill them both but was also ultimately responsible for them entering a life of piracy and getting together.) At every stage of their lives, Will and Elizabeth have faced obstacles that seem determined to keep the two apart. Nonetheless, no matter how big or small, tangible or intangible, these obstacles were overcome. Unlike the tragic romance between Davy Jones and Calypso, Will and Elizabeth have shown throughout the films that their love is an unwavering and enduring one.

Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann: The Beginning, The Trials, The Choices

Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean the Curse of the Black Pearl
©Disney

In The Curse of the Black Pearl, it’s evident early on that the two care for one another. However, their societal differences prevent them from being together. Will Turner, a blacksmith’s apprentice, is all too aware that he is beneath Elizabeth, the governor’s daughter. He always remembers his place, maintaining propriety and addressing her as “Miss Swann” while Elizabeth appears more eager to forget formalities. Although they finally declare their love for each other during the film’s end, the happiness is short-lived.

During Dead Man’s Chest, the couple is literally separated throughout most of the film. They are arrested and whisked off the day of their wedding. There are physical bars separating the two while Elizabeth is in jail and Will is sent off by Lord Beckett to obtain Captain Jack Sparrow’s compass. Elizabeth then spends the rest of the film searching for Will, and again, the happiness of their reunion is brief following the death of Jack. Throughout At World’s End, the couple struggles with their communication. Plagued by their own separate burdens, they grapple between their unspoken tension and their individual objectives: Will freeing his father from the Flying Dutchman and Elizabeth avenging her father’s death by Beckett. And of course, there’s the whole “Will-stabs-Davy-Jones’-heart” and “one-day-on-land, ten-years-at-sea” thing.

Even with all this hardship, they get through it. It’s a stark contrast from the relationship between Davy Jones and Calypso. Despite the circumstances or wherever they are, Will and Elizabeth remain faithful to one another. They put their trust in each other, and they put the love they have for each other first rather than put themselves first. In a way, their wedding does symbolize the journey the couple has encountered together–there’s all this chaos surrounding them, but as they kiss, none of it matters because they’re finally together and unified as one. They grow and evolve in the world with each other, from the safe comforts of Port Royal to a menacing life of piracy and the treacherous sea.

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Jack Sparrow: One question about your business, boy, or there’s no point going. This girl, how far are you willing to go to save her?

Will Turner: I’d die for her.

Will essentially forsakes his intense dislike of piracy and sheds his ingrained propriety to rescue Elizabeth after she is taken from Port Royal by Barbossa’s men. He willingly aids Jack’s breakout from prison and helps commandeer a ship from the Royal Navy. He risks his own life to ensure the safety of Elizabeth’s with the knowledge that his love may never be returned. Simultaneously, she sacrifices her own happiness by agreeing to marry Commodore Norrington in order to save Will’s life. Will also agrees to retrieve Jack’s compass for Beckett. While Governor Swann has his doubts, Elizabeth proudly declares that she has “faith” in Will to succeed. After Elizabeth confronts Beckett herself, she negotiates the letters of marque under Will’s name to ensure his freedom. But one of the most selfless acts of love comes after Jack’s death. Despite Will witnessing Elizabeth kissing Jack and believing that she was in love with him, Will approaches Elizabeth to save Jack from the Davy Jones’ locker. He mistakes her guilt as grief, but he puts her feelings first. To him, it’s Elizabeth’s happiness that is the most important. 

Will does remain true to his word. He does die for Elizabeth. After meeting Bootstrap Bill and correctly deducing the plan concocted between Jack and Will for Jack to kill Davy Jones, Elizabeth does not hesitate to aid in whatever way she can. As Pirate King, she proposes the trade between Will and Jack so the latter can have access to the heart while the pirates go to battle with the East India Trading Co. She also steps in and duels with Davy Jones while Will tries to disarm his father. He runs to Elizabeth’s rescue after Jones gains the upper hand and in his effort to save Elizabeth, gets stabbed by Davy Jones.

Calypso: You did hide away what should have always been mine…

Davy Jones: My heart will always belong to you…

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The Fate of the Flying Dutchman

Will and Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
©Disney

One of the crucial differences between Will and Elizabeth and Davy Jones and Calypso is how each couple handled the fate of being bound to the Flying Dutchman. Calypso charged Davy Jones with the duty to ferry all the lost souls at sea. And after ten years, she was not there waiting for him. The betrayal caused a heartbreak so profound that Davy Jones cut out his own heart. Although he claims that his heart has always belonged to Calypso, his despair caused him to conceal his heart from the world.

On the other hand, as Will and Elizabeth are saying their goodbyes before he heads out to the Dutchman, he hands her the chest with his heart, stating,

“It’s always belonged to you.” Not only is he indicating that his life has always been, and always will be, in her hands, but that there is no other person in the world he trusts with it. With Elizabeth having his heart, he will be with her always.

“Keep a weather eye on the horizon.”

-Will Turner to Elizabeth Swann

And she did. Twice, Will made the request to Elizabeth–first when he left Port Royal and then as they said their goodbyes before sunset. And throughout the years, she looked out to the sea, waiting for her husband to come home. She was there ten years to the day, happily waiting with her son for her husband to return. And she was there when their son Henry broke the curse years later. Given how quickly she appeared, it’s not indulgent to assume that Elizabeth has been keeping a weather eye every day of her life, her love and loyalty to her husband unfaltering. After all, they’ve endured, and all the years that they’ve been apart, their reunion is all the more justified and deserving.

Their love has always been an adventure. Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann represent the defying light in times of trials and tribulations. It’s a relationship that is more than just an epic romance–it’s an understanding and belief in a person that will support you in the happiest and lowest moments of your life. Whether hand-in-hand or at world’s end, this unforgettable pirate couple will face anything and everything together.

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Alice Sarkisyan View All

Born and raised in Los Angeles. Fluent in sarcasm and film references.

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