Study Guide: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne|
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20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: BOOK NOTES / ANALYSIS
Captain Nemo repeatedly mentions that he is seeking revenge for injustices he incurred while on land. Interestingly, the reader must consider that while Nemo’s violence seems senseless and evil, he is not necessarily different from a nation state. For example, Nemo has declared himself sovereign; he has his own laws; he claims he has a wealth that rivals France; and he has his own military. At least in the cases of the Abraham Lincoln and the final warship, Nemo was attacked first. He is not entirely evil--he makes large donations to people in need of them and comes to the aid of those he believes worthy. The world in the 19th century was not quite the same as it is today. While the nature of warfare was certainly changing, as it always is, nations still engaged in battle over issues that would not be considered legitimate today, such as colonization.
Nemo, technically residing in a territory controlled by no one, having
claimed land of his own, and fighting under his own flag is not entirely
different from a recognized and respected nation that bludgeons its enemy
to advance its own cause.
Liberty is another theme that pervades this novel. The world is seeking to liberate itself of the “creature,” the Nautilus. Nemo seeks liberty from society and from the land itself. Aronnax, Conseil and Land seek liberty from Nemo. Yet no one is truly free.
If the world became free from the terrors of the Nautilus it was only through the will of Nemo, who apparently committed suicide. However, much like any scientific progress, they are not free from the technology to produce another submarine capable of the same evil. Aronnax has survived. He knows the mechanical secrets of the ship and he is preparing to publish them
Nemo seeks refuge at the sea’s bottom; yet he is repeatedly outraged
and haunted by mankind. He continues to battle humanity and thus causes
himself great mental anguish. Moreover, he is plagued by his vengeful
spirit which drives his entire existence. He is not in control of his
This story is told in the first person-limited point of view. This means it
is told through the experience of the narrator, Pierre Aronnax. He is
not privy to the ideas and feelings of the other characters. He can only
tell us what he observes.
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. 09 May 2017