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Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

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20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: CHAPTER NOTES / PLOT ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 6 : “The Greek Islands”

Summary

Upon some urging, Land finally believed they had crossed through the tunnel and were in the Mediterranean Sea, He asked if the three men could talk quietly about their “business,”- escaping. Pierre Aronnax did not wish to leave the vessel. He believed he would never again have such an opportunity to further his underwater studies, and wanted to continue the entire voyage; yet, he did not want to preclude his friends’ freedom. While Ned Land had enjoyed his time in the Nautilus, he believed he could not fully appreciate it until it was through. Conseil believed that when they had seen all there was to see, the captain would free them. Aronnax disagreed. He thought that since the three men were privy to the secrets of the vessel, Captain Nemo could not risk freeing them. Land began to convince Aronnax that they must seize the present opportunity to escape. Conseil refused to state an opinion about whether they should leave--he said he was always in the service of Aronnax. Aronnax finally agreed with Land, because he realized that Land was correct--they could not depend on Nemo to ever free them. But he warned Land that their first opportunity to escape must be a real one and it must succeed because if they failed Captain Nemo would never forgive them.

A curious incident occurred in the salon. Aronnax thought he saw a ship wrecked man, but when the man swan toward the Nautilus the captain spoke to him through hand signals. Then, Nemo walked over to a safe filled with gold and sent it somewhere above them. That night, the small boat took the safe somewhere.

The next day they found themselves traveling in boiling water. It occurred to Aronnax that if they had tried to escape they would have been killed.


CHAPTER 7:”The Mediterranean in Forty-Eight Hours”

Summary

It was impossible to escape the Nautilus while in the Mediterranean, as it went entirely too fast the entire time. Conseil and Aronnax spent the entire time observing and classifying species. After two days, the ship emerged in the Atlantic Ocean.


CHAPTER 8 “Vigo Bay”

Summary

Upon reaching the Atlantic, Land decided to execute their plan of escape. He came to Aronnax and told him they would have to leave that night at 9pm., while they were only a few miles off the Spanish coast. Land made the preparations.

For the rest of the day Aronnax was overcome with emotion. He did not want to leave his underwater studies unfinished, especially not the Atlantic, which he considered his ocean. However, he knew he must go. He wandered around the museum that he loved so dearly. Aronnax found Captain Nemo’s austere room empty and went in. He observed pictures on the wall of great men devoted to humanity, such as Washington and Lincoln. Aronnax wondered what Nemo might have in common with these men.


At 9 p.m. Aronnax waited in the library for Land’s signal, as planned. However, he noticed a sudden slowing of the ship, and felt it sit at the ocean’s bottom. The Nemo entered the library. Nemo asked Aronnax if he knew his Spanish history. When Aronnax responded that he was not that familiar with it, Nemo relayed a story that ended with a ship wreck in the Vigo Bay, the bay in which they were sitting. When Aronnax looked out into the water he saw divers collecting the wealth that was left by the wreck. Nemo told Aronnax that it was this shipwreck and the many others in the seas that made him a multi millionaire. Aronnax remarked that these riches could be better used if they were properly distributed. This statement incensed Nemo who said why Aronnax would think that he kept them for himself. Aronnax realized then that Nemo was still human, and that he was using his riches to help some poor and oppressed people.


CHAPTER 9 “A Vanished Continent”

Summary

Aronnax recounted the events of the previous night to an angry, but still hopeful Ned Land. At noon they checked to see the position of the vessel--it was sailing away from Europe; no land was in sight.

Aronnax was not very disappointed and began his regular studies. That evening Nemo asked Aronnax if he might like to go on an excursion at night time, since he never had. He warned Aronnax that the journey would be long and tiring. Aronnax accepted. Land and Conseil were not asked to come. The crew did not go either.

After a long walk , during which Aronnax saw many new and interesting things, the men arrived at a strange place. There was a volcano and fire. It was the lost city of Atlantis. Aronnax was thrilled.


CHAPTER 10:”Underwater Coalmines”

Summary

Much to their surprise, the men encounter an underwater coalmine in an extinct volcano. Nemo tells them that the volcano is his safe haven, where no one will find them and where he does not have to fear hurricanes--such as in other ports. In this volcano, Nemo’s crew mine coal to aid in the production of electricity for the ship.

The men are able to spend the day walking around, as if on dry land (although as Land points out, they are really under dry land not on it). The ocean tide beings to rise, as does the lake inside the caverns they are exploring. The men are able to escape safely. When the ship is restocked, they remain docked. Aronnax wonders why they do not leave right away.


NOTES AND ANALYSIS OF CHAPTERS 6 - 10

Ned Land becomes increasingly urgent for escape. Meanwhile, Aronnax is torn between escaping to help his friends and continuing his journey under the sea. Land, who requires the experience of life first hand, cannot be contented like Aronnax through observation and study. It seems Land’s only real pleasures occur when he is actually participating in something, such as hunting or exploring. Land and Aronnax are both interested in marine life. However, Land is interested in the challenge they present in being killed; Aronnax is interested in the challenge they present in being understood.

Once again, the reader is surprised by the revelation that Nemo collects and donates gold to the underprivileged.


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