20000 Legues under the Sea

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Jules Verne’s piece called ‘20000 Leagues under the Sea’ produced in 1869 was a classical tale of an adventurous voyage of a submarine. It exposes the seafarers’ most horrendous encounters with strange sea creatures. The animal described variously is casted as defying all description, something of a mystery that no seaman can fully comprehend. Many seamen believe that the animal is the dreaded Kraken, a serpent that is believed to be 200 feet long and is thought to wield a lot of powers. Its encounter with sea-going vessels is one big nightmare as it is known to wreck and sink ships most of the time devouring the sailors.

The story is told mostly in the first person narrative. The book’s second chapter, dubbed ‘pros and cones‘ introduces the narrator who is an assistant professor at a French museum, The Museum of Natural History called Pierre Aronnax. He has a keen interest in ocean and sea life that has a rather weird belief about the mysterious monster. He believes that the monster could actually be a colossal narwhal or some deep sea creature that has never been seen before. Accompanied by his loyal servant called Conseil, he goes aboard the submarine Abraham Lincoln. The frigate is captained by Farragut, and their mission is to eliminate the monstrous serpent from the high seas and put an end of the constant danger posed by this creature to sailors and their crews. The ship sails off at the Brooklyn harbour and could easily be the world’s most adventurous yet extremely dangerous voyage.

In chapter four, the reader is introduced to yet another character who is the book’s main protagonist, Ned Land, a ruthless, audacious and skilled Canadian seaman. He is known to be very sceptical about the sea monster. Land immediately strikes friendship with Aronnax, and the two become very close. Together, they share their experiences and ideas and extensively discuss the dreaded beast. As fate may have had it, Abraham Lincoln is soon attacked by the very sea creature, the monster that is the terror of all seamen soon after an earlier encounter with Monroe, an American frigate. The two friends soon find themselves aboard a submarine called the Nautilus. The Nautilus is commanded by one captain Nemo, a multilingual sailor who speaks English, French, German, and Latin fluently. Captain Nemo does not count allegiance to any country or nation or ideology.

The captain invites the two friends to join him and offers to keep them aboard the Nautilus with no possibility of ever stepping on land again. Aronnax sees this as an opportunity that would give him a chance to study aquatic life. The Nautilus proves to be the ideal place for Aronnax because it has a vast library with many books. It also has a gallery for valued art works by famous artists. The story is a testimony of how perspectives change with time. The author explains how, over time, he has tended to like different characters in the story. But his favourite character eventually turns out to be Nemo upon whom he piles praises and whom he idolizes.

The story explores one main theme: Man versus Nature. This is encompassed in the conflict between the two main characters in the story, Nemo and Aronnax. Aronnax must also decide between his undying love for nature and his fellow seamen. He says ‘So it was a sad day I spent, between my wish to regain freedom and my regret at saying goodbye to the marvelous Nautilus…’ The second theme that comes to the fore is that of revenge, Nemo keeps mentioning that he is out to revenge against the injustices he encountered while still on land. He says “I am not what you call a civilized man....’ It is from these two themes that the main lessons leant in the story can be coined. One is that in a conflict beyween nature and man, nature would always triump. Second that no man is an island there is critical need for people to work together in order to achieve certain ends. The story seeks to explore various conflicts in the society and the extent to which such conflicts can affect the achievement of some collective and individual goals in the society.

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