Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne|
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20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: LITERARY ANALYSIS / PLOT SUMMARY
In French conseil means counsel. Aronnax tells us that his manservant never offers counsel. However, this seems to be another example of Aronnax’s arrogance, because Conseil frequently counsels the others. He is very tactful however, and usually prefaces his advice with “If monsieur pleases.” Verne also had a friend named Jacques-Francoise Conseil who tested a submarine very similar to the Nautilus in 1858.
Conseil is more or less a flat character. The only side of his personality
that the reader really sees is his faithful and serving disposition. He
is frequently a humorous character, who is consistently calm and supportive
of his master.
The plot of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas is essentially simple: Three men set out to capture and explain the unexplainable. Instead they are captured and encounter a brilliant madman who travels the seas seeking revenge and beauty. The men cannot continue in such a manner, so they risk their lives to free themselves.
A good portion of this novel is mere entertainment. Verne spends paragraphs explaining geography and marine life. These descriptions do little to advance the plot except when characterization is revealed through their observation.
The real genius of this work, besides its incessant entertainment, lies
in its ability to present technological advancement as the potential demise
of man. This is an unnerving subject for the 19th century world which
was riding high on the effects of the spreading Industrial Revolution.
The exposition of the novel occurs in the first chapter. In this chapter
we meet Pierre Aronnax, the main character and we are presented with the
major concern of the novel--something malicious is destroying innocent
ach encounter the men have with Nemo bring them closer to their ultimate
need to escape his grasp. Each event presents a different side of Nemo,
and thus influences the men’s impression of the captain and their situation.
The climax occurs when the men try to escape. This is a monumental decision
because it presents a case in which Aronnax is trusting his own senses
and those of Land. Furthermore, Aronnax is abandoning the possibility
of further study because he cannot be involved in the maliciousness of
the Nautilus. Here we realize that even though Aronnax saw himself
becoming a fanatic, like Nemo, about life on the vessel and its scientific
pursuit, it is not worth it for him to remain involved with the slaughter
of innocent men.
The mood of this novel is mysterious. At the book’s resolution, the reader
is not entirely aware of everything. Captain Nemo, who is cloaked in anonymity,
remains so at the novel’s end.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".
. 21 May 2008