Book Review

by Will Wendt

20,000 Leagues under the Sea

AUTHOR: Jules Verne

Jules Gabriel Verne was born February 8th, 1828 in Nantes, France. Jules was born to wealthy parents and trained to follow the footsteps of his father in becoming a lawyer, but decided that he wanted rather to be a writer. Verne is best remembered for authoring popular novels, such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days. Verne died March 24, 1905 at age 77, passing his legacy on to his son Michel Verne.

SETTING

This novel follows the adventures of a crew aboard a sea vessel named the Nautilus that travels all around the world by waterways. A few of the important events occurred at the Pacific Ocean near the United States, the Atlantic Ocean near Hispaniola, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, Antarcica and the Southern Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean near Europe. Below is a map of the route the adventure takes.
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MAIN CHARACTERS

The main characters in this novel include the following people:


Aronnax: Aronnax is a French lecturer who has a scientific mind and is very inquisitive. Aronnax is called to adventure when news of a mysterious creature of the ocean being spotted spreads throughout the world. Aronnax had the opportunity to go searching for the creature and took it, thus beginning his adventure.


Conceil: The loyal servant and friend of Aronnax, Conceil happily accompanies his master in every adventure Aronnax undergoes and gives help and insightful advice whenever needed.


Ned Land: A French-Canadian harpooner, Ned Land goes along with the crew to find and defeat the mysterious sea creature. Upon being captured with Aronnax and Conceil, Ned stays with the two and joins them in the adventure they embark upon.



Captain Nemo: Captain of the Nautilus, Captain Nemo is a mysterious figure who arouses many questions throughout the novel. With an unexplained past and a passive/agressive yet admirable attitude, Nemo is a determined and adventurous man with a profound love of the sea and its vastness.

PLOT

The novel begins by explaining the background of our hero, Aronnax, a French lecturer with a scientific mind and an aptitude for adventure. As news of a mysterious sea creature spreads across the world, Aronnax's interest is peaked. When given the opportunity to find this creature and study it, our main character jumps to the chance.


Aboard a ship with his faithful servant, Conceil, and a crew of able men, including the French-Canadian harpooner Ned Land, Aronnax sets out to find the beast. After weeks of searching, the party is about to give up when the creature reveals itself. When the ship attacks the monster, their bullets and harpoons ricochet right off its steel-like hide. The beast retaliates, and disables the ship, casting Aronnax overboard. Conceil and Ned Land jump after him to assist the drowning hero as the ship sails away to avoid being sunk by their formidable opponent.


After treading water for hours, they give up, allowing their feet to fall upon a surface- the back of the monster, which is discovered to be a sea vessel. Our heroes are taken aboard and held in a windowless cell as the mysterious vessel makes on its way.

After being in captivity for days, the Captain of the vessel introduces himself to the party. A mysterious man named Nemo, the Captain explains that the sea creature the world is trying to kill is the ship they are aboard, named the Nautilus.


The Nautilus is a ship of Captain Nemo's own design, a pioneer in its age, which runs completely on sodium-powered electricity. Captain Nemo explains that he doesn't have foul intent for humanity with his ship. Rather, he ventures around the world in the Nautilus, which is capable of more than any other sea vessel in the entire world.


Captain Nemo then tells the party that they are welcome aboard the Nautilus, and can board in rooms prepared for them and wander the ship as they please. The only rule is that they may not leave the ship, ever. They must stay aboard the Nautilus in order to keep it a secret. The rest of the novel follows their adventures across the globe, the heroes' attempts at escape, and the many conflicts with enemies, not only men, but creatures and conditions of the sea that must be overcome.

My Response

I very much enjoyed the novel as a whole. The scientific way in which this book was written appealed to me, as I happen to be a science geek, and the adventures and conflicts the ocean brings forth were very interesting.


I was completely caught off guard when the mysterious sea creature turned out to be a vessel captained by a human crew. The novel up until that point didn't give any hints that the beast was in fact a ship, and it was an interesting plot twist for the heroes to be taken aboard the Nautilus.


If I were Aronnax, it would have been an easy choice for me to stay aboard the Nautilus for my entire life, under the sea and surrounded by its beauty, and being able to explore its many mysteries and depths.


The book reminded me of my own adventures in life, being cast into an area I was not used to after moving away from the city to rural Illinois. The many obstacles Aronnax and the characters encountered were relatable to me, and I was intrigued by the plot and the many twists and turns it took.


The only factor of the novel that I didn't like so much were the many unanswered questions it aroused, especially regarding Captain Nemo. You get to understand his personality and views on humanity, but you don't find out much at all about why he feels that way, or why he seeks recluse in the sea and doesn't want to interact with humanity. Though the novel leaves many unanswered questions, I suppose if every question was answered the world wouldn't be as interesting of a place.

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