“20.000 Leagues Under the Sea” is one of the most famous novels by Jules Verne and it is a significant child and worldwide literary work. Written in 1869 it is notable, except for its plot and science-fiction characteristics, for the writer’s vision of a submarine with a human crew which was, at the time it was written, pure science fiction and today it is a part of everyday life.
The plot is about the journey of the submarine Nautilus from professor Pierre Aronnax’s perspective. He was a biologist. The captain’s name was Nemo and until this day he is still the symbol of a captain, inventor, and researcher. All of them went on a search for a particular creature which scared the seaman and people on the shore. Nautilus passed through the sea encountering various, strange and interesting sea creatures and animals and it got itself in danger from which the crew members had to get out of using their own creativity skills and imagination. They used inexistent devices which later on became an inspiration to the development of technology which made Jules Verne a visionary amongst the writers of his time.
It is important to mention that the title of the novel does not refer to the depth of the sea but to the leagues, Nautilus passed.
Jules Verne used this novel to continue his work from “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and he continued with “From the Earth to the Moon” and “Around the World in Eighty days”. He placed many science-fiction characteristics into his novels using his invented scientific discoveries and then inexistent devices. He took his adventures to places which were, and some of them still are, inaccessible. First it was the center of the Earth and later on the Moon. In this novel, it was the bottom of the sea which is being discovered today and which holds many secrets.
He adapted his stories to younger readers, and all of them are exciting, but no at least fairytale like. They are almost credible but still witty, creative and attractive for children and adults. His novels are so interesting and creative that they became timeless.
Jules Verne and his characters are still and inspiration to the new writers and the movie industry.
Time: 19th century
Place: bottom of the sea, submarine
Theme: life and work of a scientist trapped for month in a submarine
Idea: nothing is as important as people’s freedom
An almost uncatchable animal – a whale – was spotted in different places in three days which as almost impossible considering the miles in between those two places. Something like that was only able to be done by animals which could move with an incredible speed and no one knew that animals like that existed. Ship owners across the world were agitated with the news coming from all parts of the world. The situation got even more serious when two ships crashed into the creature and got damaged. From that day on, the creature was blamed for every shipwreck and accident on the sea.
Pierre Arronax, a prestigious univeristy professor, coming back from his expedition in America, got involved with the question of the big creature. From all the suppositions there were two left: there was a creature of great strenght in the sea or there was a submarine with extreme power there. The theory of a powerful submarine was soon discarded since they knew that no one was able to build such a submarine. Anorrax, under the pressure of other scientists, claimed that people had to accept that a creature of extreme power was living in the sea. He even suspected it could be a sea unicorn. His opinion caused a lot of discussions because the depths of the sea weren’t researched just yet. An expedition gathered in New York and they decided to look for the creature.
The creature was spotted in the Pacific Ocean so the fully equipped submarine went on its journey. Arronax joined the expedition despite just being back from another one. He couldn’t say “no” to a challenge. His right-hand man got his things ready and soon they were on the “Abraham Lincoln” ship where the captain waited for them himself. The ship sailed from the port of New York to the Atlantic chaperoned with standing ovation from millions of people. The crew strongly believed in their captain because he was the soul of the ship. Alongside the best equipment and the professor, the ship also had the master harpooner Ned Land.
Ned didn’t buy the whole unicorn story. He became friends with the professor and entertained him with his life stories. Arronax wanted to know why Ned didn’t believe in the unicorn hypothesis. Ned claimed that he has hunted and killed many whales and that none of them had the power to scratch let alone destroy a ship.
The whole crew took a turn in observing the ocean in hopes to spot the creature. They sailed for a while when they crossed paths with the American whalers. Ned helped them catch two whales. Nothing special happened for days. They were traveling for three months when a strange feeling of shame and rage took over them. The captain didn’t even think about going back and he wanted to postpone their return for three more days. On the last day, everything stopped when they heard Ned saying that a certain thing was heading towards them. A few meters under the surface the creature radiated a strange, unexplainable light which was mentioned by several captains in their memoirs. The captain was reluctant to attack because he had no idea what he was dealing with. The creature started imitating the movements of the submarine.
They spent the whole night getting ready to attack. No matter how fast the submarine went, the creature was faster. They couldn’t even hit it with a cannon. It was a peaceful night and they finally got close to the creature. Ned fired a harpoon at it and it sounded like arms hitting a hard body. Two giant whirlpools rose and a few men, including the professor, fell overboard. Despite being a good swimmer, the professor almost drowned because his clothes got heavy in contact with the water. Conselio helped him out. The lights of the frigate were lost in the distance. The castaways started losing their strength. Calling out for help they saw Ned swimming towards them. After a few moments of horror, the professor came to the conclusion that the creature was made by people. A few moments later a few man pulled them into their terrifying machine.
After entering, the castaways had to adapt to the darkness and not knowing where or with who they were. They were in a cabin. Soon two sailors of the submarine appeared. They spoke an unknown language. They tried to establish contact using four world known languages but it was all for nothing. They got some clean clothes and dinner after which they fell asleep on the floor.
Professor was the first to wake up, and he had a million questions. There wasn’t much air in the cabinet. Rested and hungry, the castaways wondered what awaits. The nervous Ned started asking the man who brought them food many questions, but soon he was calmed down by a captain who spoke French. He wanted to know if their story was true. Captain Nemo was a man who gave up on everything related to people because they hurt him a lot. His prisoners had every right to walk around the submarine, but their return was impossible because Nemo didn’t want the world to know about the submarine Nautilus.
The served meals, as everything else on the submarine, was made exclusively out of flora and fauna of the sea world. The captain didn’t use anything that came from land. After Lunch, Nemo decided to show the professor around. Ned and Conselio couldn’t make peace with staying on the submarine forever. On the other side, the professor loved the idea of getting to know all of the secrets the depth of the sea held.
The first room which got Arronax’s attention was the library. It was the biggest library he had ever seen. There was also an art gallery filled with important work. He was especially interested in a collection of rare animals and plants. Nemo enjoyed showing Arronax around because he admired his work. Entering the captain’s cabin, Arronax got familiar with all of the devices which controlled and moved the submarine. Finding out that the submarine was being run by electricity was amazing for him because in those time it was just a dream. He had many questions which were answered by the captain who believed the professor will stay forever on the submarine. The captain himself engineered and built the submarine. He was an educated and rich man.
The submarine dived out. They determined their position and the captain announced that their expedition is about to begin. Ned and Caselio wanted to know the topic of the conversation between the professor and Ned. All of the sudden they were left in the dark. The roof above their heads opened up and gave them a glance of the amazing blue sea and all of its beauties.
Arronax didn’t see Nemo for two whole days. He decided to start writing a journal. On the sixth day, he received a letter from Nemo who invited them all to come hunting on an island. They were surprised because they thought that Nemo never left the submarine. Nemo explained their scuba diving suits and equipment which was deadly. After getting ready they went to the bottom of the ocean to hunt. All of the baeauty, the colors and animals left a strong impression on them. In the forest, the trees and the plant didn’t divaricate, but they rose up to the top of the ocean. After a long walk, they fell asleep for a while. Then they headed on and caught a huge sea spider. When they were returning to the submarine, they encountered a shark but it was all good, and without any difficulties, they were back in the submarine.
The next day, the sailors caught a lot of fish. Nemo held a speech about the life in the ocean, its miracles, and importance. After his speech, he disappeared again for a few days. Three prisoners observed the beauty of the ocean through the glass ceiling every day.
They were shocked by the sight of a shipwreck and many corpses. It was one of the many horrors Nautilus experienced. The coral island gave Arroanx a new chance to explore something new. Thousands of passed leagues gave him many memorable sights of Fiji, Tahiti…
On Christmas, they exchanged handshakes. They reached an island which was known as the shipwreck spot. The captain showed them some shipwrecked boats. Two moths flew by in the submarine. The new year was either a sign of an eternal captivity or a sign of freedom. A few days later Nemo told them that they would be entering the Indian Ocean through the dangerous Torres Strait. The captain navigated the submarine. Soon they hit a reef, and the submarine was motionless, leaning to the left side.
The captain decided to wait for the tide to help them. Ned had a strong desire for meat and hunting on land. With the captain’s permission, they went hunting on the island. On the first day, they got a lot of fruit and brought it back to the submarine. The next day they hunted a bird. Ned managed to shoot a pig and five kangaroos. After a delicious dinner ned didn’t want to come back to the submarine when they noticed a group of natives coming their way and they didn’t look very happy. Professor and the other managed to go back to the submarine. The captain wasn’t surprised with the natives roaming around the submarine. The professor and Conselio managed to find a rare shell which was worth a lot of money. While they admired it, a native man shot it with a stone. They almost forgot about them when they saw them forming a circle in their boats around the submarine.
Nemo wasn’t still agitated about the natives because the submarine had an electric fence around it. As the captain thought, the submarine went back peacefully to the depths of the sea. Aronnax became more and more fascinated with the submarine. Everything was new to him so he observed everything with a lot of attention. Something strange happened and it got the crew members and the captain upset. They observed the horizon. When Aronnax wanted to take a look Nemo forbid it and took them to dinner after which they got very tired. They knew that the food contained some sort of tranquilizer.
Everything was normal the next day, except for Nemo who was still clearly upset. He asked Aronnax for medical help for a wounded crew member. He had severe head injuries, and the professor couldn’t save him. Nemo started crying. The next day they took a field trip carrying something on their shoulders. They all knew it was a wrapped up body. They were going to a cemetery t0o bury the man who lost his life. Nemo decided to hold a real funeral for him at the bottom of the ocean.
The professor started noticing the horrors of the submarine life and he pondered about running away somehow. The flora and fauna left them breathless again. They sailed towards civilized lands. One night, Aronnax and Conseil saw a magical animal which was thought to bring good luck.
They reached the Ceylon peninsula. The captain took them to see the pearls for which the island was known. Ned and Conselio were thought all about the pearls from the professor, but he also talked about the danger of sea sharks. The next days they went looking for the pearls in a boat. The professor even got a knife in case they needed to protect themselves. Many shells of a different kind were in front of them. When they saw a man they hid. He was attacked by a shark and couldn’t defend himself. Nemo started fighting with the shark and he got in danger. Ned saved them and for that, he received a bag of pearls from Nemo. The professor noted that Nemo wasn’t quite as done with people as he claimed to be because he tried to help the attacked man. Nemo explained that he relates to the man because he too comes from a suppressed nation.
They reached the Red Sea and discussed its history. The captain wanted to enter the Mediterranean Sea through a secret tunnel. While sailing through the Red Sea they saw some rare creatures which were specific for that area. Ned got the permission from Nemo to hunt a whale because of its delicious meat. While they were going through the secret tunned Aronnax was granted permission to the main cabin. Soon they found themselves in the Mediterranean.
The next morning the three friends started coming up with an escape plan. Aronnax was dead set on leaving, but his passion for new experiences kept him in the submarine. They didn’t have an opportunity to leave because they didn’t come near the European coast. While spending time with Nemo professor saw Nicolas, a scuba diver. The captain gave large amounts of gold to him so he could get it to a certain person. Soon it became hot in the submarine. They had to move fast to get out of the dangerous waters before the submarine got too hot to live in.
During their stay in the Mediterranean. Nemo appeared only once. He wasn’t really fond of that sea because it brought back many memories and sadness. The velocity of the submarine didn’t allow Aronnax to do new researches. In the depths of the sea, they saw many wrecked ships.
On an upcoming evening, Ned had an escape plan and made all of the arrangements. The professor was stunned and agitated. The moment in which they wanted to start their plan, came the captain. He talked about some Spanish cities which lost a lot of gold in the bay in which they were at the moment. They helped the poor and suppressed with their gold.
The next day Ned was unhappy because their plan failed. Nemo asked Aronnax to take a midnight walk with him. The path they took was very bad and steep. In the end, they found themselves at the top of a volcano and had a view of the Atlantis. They soaked in the beauty of the ancient city and then they went back to the Nautilus. For some time they sailed over Atlantis and then they ended up in the dark, below the Earth in the center of the volcano. Nemo’s sailors got coal for their needs. Aronnax and his friends explored the volcano. They climbed and down. When they went down, they took a nap and got woken up by the tide which brought them back to Nautilus.
They proceeded to the Sargasso Sea. It was filled with dense seaweed and the submarine couldn’t reach the bottom. In the next 19 days, they passed a lot of leagues, and Nemo didn’t even show his face. He wanted to measure the depths and point the submarine towards the bottom of the sea. The next day Ned found out that the sailors thought exactly like Nemo. He was very unpleased with that fact because he wanted to go back on dry land.
A pod of whales caught his attention. He wanted to hunt. Soon he witnessed a battle between the submarine and the shells which attacked the whales. The submarine achieved great velocity towards the south pole, and they could see the first icebergs. The captain skilfully avoided all of the ice until an iceberg did his fair share of damage.
The iceberg wouldn’t back down under the many attacks of the submarine which got trapped. To free themselves, they had to dive under the submarine and exit on the open sea. After a few attempts, they managed to free Nautilus. They came to an island and decided to explore it. Nemo joined them because he knew there were no people on the island. There were only animals and playful seals. The next day was dedicated to science, and they conducted many types of researches. Aronnax decided to sort out his notes and memoirs. He remembered everything they saw, from the plants all the way to the animals, islands, pearls, icebergs… He couldn’t even imagine the adventures which were in front of them.
A strong noise was heard sometime after midnight. The submarine leaned to the right and stayed motionless. A giant piece of ice fell and blocked all exits. They have trapped again. There was a fear of suffocation because they were unable to dive out and renew their air. They had enough air for only 48 hours. The ice around the submarine was supposed to be broken manually. They took turns breaking it and they were running out of the air. Thanks to the construction of the submarine and their work, they pulled it off. When the crew finally reached fresh air, they took deep breaths as if it was the first time they felt the air.
The journey to the unknown continued. They came to the Falkland and wandered the ocean. Nemo didn’t show up again. After catching much fish they headed for the open sea. Ned still dreamed about running away but they had no opportunity. Ned asked Aronnax to ask Nemo if he was really ready to keep them in the submarine forever. In the depth, Nemo warned them about the octopus caves. They were about 8 meters long and one of them got stuck in the propeller so the submarine couldn’t move. She had to be manually removed and that was a great danger for the crew. She battle was long and bloody and another life was lost. Nemo broke down in tears again.
The submarine floated for a few days in the Gulf Stream. Ned was getting more and more nervous and eager to get back on land. Aronnax talked to Nemo and got the same answer. Once a person enters Nautilus, they never leave. The three friends decided to wait for the first opportunity to run away. They got into a strong storm which didn’t even allow them to stand on their feet in the submarine. They went way deep into the sea to avoid it. Nemo decided to measure the depth and at the bottom, he found a wrecked French ship which held a special meaning for him.
When they came to surface an army ship was firing at them. Nemo decided to sink the ship. He felt vengeful. Aronnax tried to talk some sense into him but Nemo wouldn’t listen. He said that he was suppressed and that he was the law. He saw the suppressors killing everything he loved and cared about. The decision to run away was made. They didn’t want to be a part of someone’s hatred-driven revenge. When they wanted to run away, the submarine crashed into the ship and sunk it. Everyone was frightened with his act. Aronnax followed him to his room. On the wall he saw a picture of a young woman and two small children. Nemo observed it for a while, reached his hands to touch the picture, kneeled down and started crying.
The submarine left the crash scene. It took days for them to recover from that horrible scene. On a certain morning, they saw land and decided it was time to run away. Ned prepared a boat which will lead them to freedom. They were supposed to meet near the library. Nemo was playing the piano yelling loudly: “Oh Lord! Stop! Stop”. Those were the last words the professor heard coming out of the captain’s mouth.
They got into the boat and no one paid much attention to them. The night silence was interrupted by a loud scream “Malestrom”. It was a giant whirlpool which devoured ships, people, animals and everything else. It was pure luck the small boat managed to escape it. The three friends never found out what happened to the submarine but Aronnax hoped that Nemo let go of his hatred and dedicated his life to research.
Characters: Nemo, Aronnax, Consein, Ned Land
Captain Nemo was a smart man and an extraordinary scientist. He was an engineer who was struck by bad luck, turned his back on humanity and started the life under the sea surface because that was the only place in which he felt calm. He was confident, ruthless, calm, brave and proud. We don’t know his exact age but he was somewhere between 35-50. Nemo was tall, spoke four languages and loved art. His art collections were bigger than in some museums. He was very proud of Nautilus, a submarine he engineered and made. Despite appearing to be a cold person Nemo was actually very sensitive. He would cry every time he lost a sailor and he sympathized with the poor and suppressed.
Nemo fought with his past which made him live his life in solitude. It was one of the reasons why he ran away and isolated himself from the world. He was thirsty for revenge and stopped at nothing to get it. His heartbreaking melodies would make everyone cry. Nemo took care of his crew and they bowed down to him. He didn’t admit defeat and he was ready to die for his beliefs.
Professor Pierre Aronnax was an esteemed French scientist. In the beginning, he was dedicated to discovering what the creature was and free the world from it but when he saw the creature and everything he sea has to offer he was enchanted with it and developed an even bigger thirst for knowledge and science development. He never lost hope that his notes will reach the world one day, despite being trapped in a submarine. Aronnax was very grateful to Nemo for showing him the depths of the sea.
The beginnings of the journey made him happy but he often thought about freedom but his thoughts were interrupted by seeing a new animals or plant never seen before. He felt a great deal of love and respect for Nemo. He was amazed by his knowledge and submarine. With time Aronnax got to know his real vengeful nature and started feeling fear and hostility towards him. He wasn’t done with hhumanity and he wanted his book to see the light of day.
Ned Land was a master harpooner from Canada. He was skillful, tricky and coldhearted. Ned was about 40 years old, tall and strong. He always looked serious and quiet but he would get rude if someone contradicted him. His appearance would always catch everyone’s attention. Ned was loyal, brave and ready to help his friends. He often expressed his dissatisfaction with the life he was forced to live. He and his friends managed to reach the freedom they longed for.
Conseil was Aronnax’s right hand. He was with him on all his journeys and appreciated that professor a lot. His whole life was dedicated to science and traveling with the professor. He was hard working, coldhearted and an expert in his field. Conseil was a man of honor and when he ended up in the submarine, his wish to explore the depth of the sea was granted. He helped his professor and the community he lived in.
Jules Verne Biography
Jules Verne was a French novel writer and the pioneer of science-fiction. From a young age, he was attracted to the theater and he wrote many librettos for the opera. His imagination was later on taken over by science discoveries, researches…
He was born in 1828 in Nantes (France). His father was a lawyer and Jules had no desire to be in the same business as his father and to inherit his work place.
After finishing his law studies in Paris, Jules decided to dedicate himself to literature. As an eleven years old he boarded a ship to India, but his father stopped him. The love for the sea kept on living in him.
With his novels, he didn’t only explore the sea but the Moon, underground and missing continents as well. He wrote, “Voyages Extraordinaires” which contain 63 science-fiction and adventure novels. “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” is also in the book.
He wrote his first novel in 1862 and it was named “Five Weeks in a Balloon”. A year later he published “From the Earth to the Moons”, “Journey to the Center of Earth”, “Adventures of Captain Hatteras”…
He died on March 24th, 1905.