Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne|
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20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: PRINTABLE NOTES / LESSON PLANS
The men open the hatches of the ship and are attacked by the squid.
As a sailor is carried away and suffocated by a squid, he calls out in
French. Aronnax is shocked, since all he had ever heard them speak is
the strange language that he does not understand. The men think they have
almost freed the poor sailor when the squid releases a black liquid, temporarily
blinding everyone. The squid carries the sailor away. Captain Nemo saves
Ned Land from a similar fate. When the battle is over, Nemo looks at the
sea in which the sailor is lost and cries.
For ten days the Nautilus sails at random, reflecting the sad mood of Nemo. As the ship travels north in the Gulf Stream, the men look for an opportunity for escape. They are only thirty miles off the American coast and consistently encounter steamers, which they are sure will pick them up upon escape. Unfortunately, the weather turns very bad--too bad to sail in a small boat. Ned Land tells Aronnax now that they were in his shores he would talk with the captain. He fears they will head to the North Pole and repeat the incident at the South Pole. Fearing Land would act rashly and ruin their chances, Aronnax offers to talk with the captain himself.
Aronnax goes to the captains room, obviously disturbing him. The captain asks for the same freedom he grants to Aronnax; the freedom to remain alone. Captain Nemo shows Aronnax the manuscript he is writing. He tells him it contains the secrets of his life and his discoveries in the sea. The plan is for the last man living on the ship to toss it into the waves, so the secrets will not die. Aronnax tells Nemo that he thinks his plan is crude, because he does not know that the manuscript will be found. He tells the captain that he and his companions will take the manuscript and keep it a secret in exchange for their freedom. Aronnax asks the captain if he ever plans on freeing them. The captain says that he who enters the Nautilus must remain there. When Aronnax complains that this is slavery, Nemo says he has never sworn them to an oath. Nemo then says he will not speak of this a second time. Upon hearing of Nemo’s reaction, Ned Land says they must try to escape when they get to Long Island--whatever the weather.
A storm breaks the day they reach Long Island. The Nautilus remains
above the water. Nemo stands on the platform defying the storm. As the
terrifying hurricane continues at the surface, the Nautilus returns
below the sea, where no sign of the hurricane is present.
The ship continued heading north east. Then , after some time, and much
to the surprise of the men, the ship began heading south--toward Europe.
Aronnax and Land wondered if the Nautilus would dare to enter the
English Channel. Captain Nemo appeared again, somber and distracted. One
evening, the Nautilus sink to the sea’s bottom yet again, next
to a ship wreck. Captain Nemo told Aronnax the story of how the ship sunk
bravely in battle. The ship was called the Vengeur.
At the South Pole, when it seems that death is imminent, Captain Nemo treats the idea nonchalantly. He seems more concerned that his project will fail--that the Nautilus is not as powerful as he believed-than the idea that he and the men might die.
Following this event, the need to escape becomes more pronounced. Even Aronnax, who until this point has thought how he might reason with the captain, is beginning to think action is necessary. Aronnax is changing and allowing himself to rely more on his experience with real life than with his ability to rationalize.
Once again, Nemo shows compassion when he is moved by the death of an innocent crewmember by the squid. It seems that Nemo does value human life to an extent and that his revenge is politically motivated.
Throughout this tale Nemo tells many stories. This technique is known as a
frame story--telling a tale within a tale. Often, in this novel, the tale
within the tale is used to preface an excursion (e.g. the story of Atlantis).
However, in this section Nemo’s tale of the sinking of the Vengeur
is foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is when the author writes something
that warns the reader of something similar to come later. In French vengeur
means avenger--someone seeking revenge. The premise of Nemo’s life on
the Nautilus seems to be revenge. When he discusses how the Vengeur
sunk heroically in battle, he is foreshadowing his own demise.
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. 21 May 2008