Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne|
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20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: LITERARY ANALYSIS / ONLINE NOTES
Aronnax was startled by Captain Nemo’s sudden discussion of the personality of the sea. Aronnax could not believe the captain did not preface his statements with “good day” or “good morning.” The captain continued his discourse on the ocean and began discussing tropical and polar waters. Aronnax was outraged by the thought that Nemo might actually try to venture to the poles. Captain Nemo then quizzed Aronnax on the depth of the seas, which Nemo said he would prove were much deeper.
In the weeks that followed, Aronnax rarely saw Nemo and spent much of
his time with Land and Conseil. The men spent their days talking, reading,
and observing the marvelous sea life that swam before the viewing stations
in the salon. One day Conseil interrupted Aronnax’s reading to show him
something astonishing. There was a sunken ship outside the Nautilus.
There were bodies on board the ship--sailors, a woman and her child.
The men watched as sharks headed toward the bodies and the Nautilus
circled the ship.
As the Nautilus entered more populated seas, the men saw more and more underwater destruction: sunken ships, cannon balls, anchors. They continued to journey south east and encountered various islands and underwater life.
At the end of December, they arrived at the island Vanikoro. Upon arrival, Aronnax recounted the apparently well known tale of La Pérouse’s ship wreck. In 1785 Louis XVI sent this explorer to circumnavigate the globe. In 1791 the French government became concerned that La Pérouse had not returned and sent two warships after him. The warships did not find them, despite reports of shipwrecks. Another man, Dillon, found the shipwreck at Vanikoro. He brought remains of the shipwreck back to Charles X. The man who was originally sent to search for La Pérouse went to Vanikoro when he heard rumors of the shipwreck being discovered. He persuaded the natives of the island to tell him about the shipwreck. He learned that La Pérouse had built smaller vessels but they had also wrecked. He did not know where.
Upon hearing Aronnax’s version of this tale, Captain Nemo finished the
unknown ending. The men created the second group of smaller vessels and
made it to the Solomon Islands, but perished between the Capes of Deception
and Satisfaction. Captain Nemo had discovered papers in the ship wreck
that explained the tale.
On January 1, Conseil approached Aronnax on the platform and wished him a Happy New Year. Aronnax asked whether Conseil thought they would be released from their imprisonment that year. Conseil did not know what to say only that he did not know how it all would end. Conseil remarked that Ned Land, a positive spirit and Anglo-Saxon, needed meat and brandy to be happy.
One day, on the platform, the men observed Captain Nemo steering the
vessel toward the Torres Strait. They thought he had gone mad, as he was
headed full speed to the vast expanse of sharp coral. The Nautilus
hit a reef and was stuck. They would be stuck for four days until
the tides were in their favor to carry them away. Conseil and Land wanted
to go on land, and asked Aronnax if he might ask Nemo. Captain Nemo gave
The beginning of this section presents some of the many unexplainable and inconsistent aspects of this tale. The men become weightless in their frog suits when they enter the water--this is a true scientific fact. However, in the beginning of the story Aronnax and Conseil were “weighted” down by their clothing. Aronnax talks of how the sunlight shone on the ocean floor--- how is this possible? Where does the out breathing tube on the diving apparatus go? Where are the bathrooms on the Nautilus--where does the waste go?
Nemo continues to act strangely, and is not seen by the narrator for weeks.
Mysterious things continue to occur. The men witness a sunken ship with
dead passengers on board. The Nautilus circles the ship. The reader
must consider the possibility that the vessel is responsible for this
attack, as it has attacked many other ships.
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. 09 May 2017