Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne|
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20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: FREE NOTES / CHAPTER SUMMARIES
This chapter begins with a discussion of the vastness of the sea and how every period of geological history has been a period of fire followed by a period of water. At first there was nothing but the ocean.
Captain Nemo takes Aronnax to the surface to determine their location; they are off the coast of Japan. Aronnax observes that with nothing in sight, the sea is like a vast desert. When Captain Nemo retires, leaving Aronnax to his studies, Aronnax is troubled by the identity of the captain and his hatred for humanity.
While Aronnax was observing how the Nautilus was about to cross the Black River, Ned Land and Conseil appeared. Aronnax tried to convince Land that it was best not to try to escape and Land argued that they were in a metal prison. Just then the ceiling went dark and panels began moving to reveal the sea through two oval shaped windows. The men were amazed by what they saw.
When Land expressed confusion about where the fish were, Conseil asked
why he cared, since he did not know about fish. Land claimed he did know
about them since he was a fisherman. Conseil said Land was a killer of
fish, and did not know how to classify them. The men continued the debate--each
knowing about different aspects of fish.
This chapter opens with the morning after the viewing session. Conseil comes to Aronnax’s chamber to attend to his needs, still acting the role of the domestic servant. Aronnax spent the day in the salon, studying. Captain Nemo never appeared. The following day continued the same, and Aronnax began to keep a diary of his adventures.
The following five days, Aronnax began his day at the platform of the vessel. Each morning he heard the officers of the vessel say and repeated the phrase: “Nautron respoc lorni virch.” Although Aronnax did not understand the phrase he recognized it each time. On the sixth day, Aronnax received a letter from Captain Nemo requesting his presence, along with Land and Conseil, for a hunting trip the following day in the forests of the Crespo Island.
Aronnax was shocked to learn the next day that Captain Nemo was referring
to underwater forests, where he intended to hunt using guns without getting
wet. At breakfast, Nemo explained that they would use an improved version
of the Rouquayrol-Denayrouze apparatus. This consisted of tanks worn on
one’s back attached to a mouth piece. The guns they would use were air
guns equipped with glass bullets.
This section allows for a closer look at Captain Nemo; yet, the reader still knows very little about him. While he decorates the vessel lavishly, his own room is bare and austere. It is possible that he is punishing himself for something. His room may be interpreted as a symbol of the Captain himself: his exterior (the extravagantly decorated ship) is commanding and intimidating--his interior (his room) is hollow, and lonely.
This section also illuminates how the Nautilus functions. Captain Nemo has harnessed scientific discovery and breakthroughs to create this incredible vessel. The reader must recall the horror this ship has already caused, and the many lives that have been lost because of it. As the book continues it becomes apparent that the ship also has done many good things and is of immense value to humanity when properly used. This is another reoccurring theme in the novel: science’s potential for disaster. This novel was written in 1870 in the midst of widespread scientific discovery and advancement. This advancement was accompanied with the underlying fear of the unknown.
The mysterious mood of the novel is seen in the marvels the men encounter
that were previously unknown. They are truly in uncharted waters.
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. 09 May 2017