20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

This book, written by Jules Verne, is a science-fiction. It uses the theme of advanced technology and science to make a point. To show how machines can hurt other humans, the author employs the “Nautilus,” a giant submarine that with the technology of that day was not conceivable.

Exposition & Conflict

The year is 1866. In the previous years, there have been countless sightings of a “monster” prowling the oceans of the world. At first, these sightings were treated as legend, but as more and more started pouring in from across the world, the nations got worried about their ships. People are speculating about what it is, some say that it is Moby Dick, some say that it is a giant serpent. Some say that it is a kraken, and even others say that it is a bogus reef or rock that moves around at high speeds. While the world argues about its identity, the creature still lurks beneath the surface of the ocean, taking out ships at a steady rate.

Rising Action

We are introduced to a scientist named Arronax, who had come from France to the US to help settle the mystery of the giant creature. There are two views, one that the creature was a war machine and the next that it was an unknown type of animal. The debate is settled, and the beastie is labeled as an animal and not some type of machine. Arronax is going to go on a boat that will hunt for this animal and hopefully kill it.

The author's perspective was used at the beginning of the story, but it switches to that of the main protagonist.

Arronax tells us about his man-servant named Conseil who is very faithful to him and also very useful. We find that Conseil knows how to classify animals because he travelled with his master, who was a naturalist. They board the Abraham Lincoln, a ship commissioned by the U.S. government to be used for hunting the monster.

We are then told about the captain of the Abraham Lincoln and his crew. The name of the captain was Commander Farragut, and he believed in the existence of this creature and vowed to either kill it or be killed by it. His crew had the same views as him and were very diligent to see if they could spot this creature. On board the ship were many harpoons, guns, cannons, and other high-tier weaponry for that time, but perhaps the most powerful weapon that they had was a man named Ned Land (the best harpooner in the world).

We then find out that Ned Land becomes a friend of Arronax because they are both French. He tells the naturalist that he did not believe that a creature was destroying the ships, but that something man-made was doing it.

We find out that the Abraham Lincoln goes to many places such as the Equator, tropical islands, and even off the coast of Japan, but wherever they go they cannot find the creature. The crew begins to think that they were tricked and on November, 2, they decide that they will stay three more days and then go home. During these three days, the men of the boat start looking out for the beast. On the night of the last day, Arronax and Conseil talk about how they will be shamed at home because of their failure in finding the creature when all of a sudden Ned Land spots it!

They see that the animal in question looked to be an electric whale or narwhal. The ship starts backing away from the giant creature, and they get chased by it. In the morning, the captain decides that it was time for them to launch a counterattack on the creature, so they prepare and start chasing it. The creature easily matches the speed of their vessel and escapes from them until noon. The men of the boat shoot it with a cannon, but it just bounces off. That night, they approach the creature and realize that it was asleep. Ned land readies a harpoon and throws it at the dormant beast, but it just dings off. The creature then spouts some water and Arronax is knocked out of the frigate.

Arronax finds out that he is not alone in the water, but that his servant had also jumped out of the boat with him. They both take turns swimming and helping each other along. They arrive at around five miles from the boat when Conseil sees a man. It turns out that this man was Ned Land, and that he also had been knocked off the boat. They swim to him and see that he is on top of the “narwhal”, which turns out to be a giant submarine. They hold on to it, and it drives away from the boat, and at last stops. A man comes out of a compartment and, after seeing them, takes them into his ship with eight of his men.

Two important looking men come to check on their prisoners, and they try to tell them their stories in all the languages they spoke, but the men seem not to understand anything. A servant comes in and gives the three men some food and leaves them be. They then go to sleep while the submarine descends.

Arronax wakes up and looks at his cell. He realizes that he has too little oxygen. All of a sudden, a draft of fresh ocean breeze enters the submarine and gives him fresh oxygen. The other two prisoners wake up, and they talk about their predicament. Ned Land hatches all sorts of ideas of ways to escape and hates his captors, who he thinks are cannibals. After a few hours, the harpooner gets angry and starts screaming and shouting, and when the steward enters the room, he jumps on the poor man and tries to strangle him.

A voice stops Ned Land in his tracks, and Captain Nemo enters and talks to them in French. He tells them that they could choose to live and never leave the submarine, or die in the cold expanse of the ocean. He tells Arronax about the many wonders that he was going to see. While eating, the professor is told about the food he is consuming, all of which was provided from the ocean. Captain Nemo offers to guide Arronax through the submarine, named the Nautilus.

Arronax is then shown a giant library containing many books and outdated newspapers. He is then told that here they were allowed to smoke, and he gives the professor some cigars that were made from sea-weed. The two men pass through a lounge with many expensive paintings into a museum, where the professor sees many expensive fossils that were discovered by Nemo on the bottom of the ocean. Arronax is led by Nemo to his room, which he finds very comfortable.

The tools used by Nemo to navigate are shown to the professor. The captain reveals to Arronax that he uses sodium and mercury to generate electricity. The two men then arrive at a ladder which, according to Nemo, leads to a boat that could be used to explore the sea. The captain also tells the professor that every day the inside of the Nautilus was freshened up with air from the sea.

The two men discuss the Nautilus and how it was constructed. Nemo answers many of Arronax's question about different parts of the ship and how they were built. He says that he had built the submarine on an island, and after it was finished, had destroyed all evidence that he existed.

While the submarine is submerging, Conseil and Ned Land come to talk to Arronax in the lounge. The lights are cut out and some windows are revealed, showing the watery ocean depths and a multitude of fish swimming alongside the submarine.

One day, the professor finds a note inviting him to go on a hunt in a forest with his friends. The next morning, Nemo meets Arronax and tells him that they would go hunting in an underwater forest.

Arronax and Conseil get into suits that would let them breathe underwater and follow Nemo to the bottom of the sea, where they see many wondrous things, like multitudes of marine animals and refracted light from the sun. After around one hour of walking, they finally arrive at the underwater forest.

The professor and his manservant walk through the underwater forest, accompanied by Nemo and his companion. They see many wonderful animals (like a giant water spider) and many species of algae. They hunt and kill a sea otter and an albatross before returning to the ship.

The Nautilus is speeding through the Pacific Ocean, dragging a net through the water behind it to capture fish. They pass many islands, including Hawaii and French island settlements. One day, they encounter a wrecked ship at the bottom of the ocean that was sunk a few hours before they arrived.

The Nautilus arrives at Vanikoro island, where Arronax tells Nemo the story of a famous ship that sunk in that area. The captain then shows it to him and also shows him something that he had salvaged from the ship. In a tin box corroded by water, he showed Arronax orders by the King that had been given the French commander of the wrecked ship.

The Nautilus gets stuck in a reef in Papua. The professor and his companions ask for the permission to take the small boat and go to the shore, and to their surprise, they are given the boat.

The men go hunting and eat many things, including coconuts, breadfruit pasta and bread, bananas, mangoes, pineapples, white pigeons, ringdoves, and even a wild boar.

Some animals that were encountered by the hunters were, parrots, kingfishers, parakeets, cockatoos, red lories, Papuan lories, Kalao parrots, birds of paradise, snakes, and kangaroos.

While cooking their food, the men are attacked by the Papuan natives. The hunters retreat to the Nautilus, where they load their provisions and close the hatches to enter. The people on the submarine know that they will have to open the hatches to get air again, and the professor and his friends believe that the natives would enter if they did. The crew opened the hatches the next morning, and none of the natives could enter because they were electrocuted when they tried to.

The travelling continues, and Arronax and his friends see many wondrous sights, like myriads of tiny, luminous underwater animals. One day, the captain sees something on the horizon. He orders Arronax and his friends to enter a room in which they are locked. They then eat some food there and go to sleep from being drugged.

After the drugged prisoners wake up, they realize that they are in their own rooms again. Arronax is asked by the captain to come with him to inspect a sick and wounded man. The professor predicted that the man was going to die in two hours. Arronax and his friends then attend the underwater funeral for the man who just died. The Nautilus then goes on its way through the oceans, and finally arrives in the Indian Ocean. While in the Indian Ocean, they witness milk water, which is a rare formation of microorganisms that together turn the water white over many leagues.

The professor has two conflicts while on this journey. One of them is to stay and continue experimenting confined, or escape from the submarine. The other is about the captain's personality, whether he is a misunderstood scientist, or if he is a revengeful person.

They then arrive at Ceylon’s pearl fishery. The captain invites Arronax and his companions to go pearl hunting with him the following day. They engage in this activity the next day, and captain Nemo shows them a giant oyster that he had been taking care of to create him a giant pearl. A pearl diver shows up and starts searching for pearls, but gets knocked out by a shark. Nemo and Ned kill the beast, and they save the Indian, giving him a bag of pearls.

The Nautilus enters the Red Sea, and Arronax and Nemo talk about how it got its name. Arronax says that some people believe that it was named this way because of the great victory of the Israelites over Pharaoh and his army. Nemo says that his hypothesis is that it was named because of its special hue, formed by thousands of small microorganisms. The captain then tells Arronax that they would go below the of Suez, in a tunnel, to get to the Mediterranean.

The next day, Ned land, Arronax, and Conseil see a giant dugong and are allowed by the captain to hunt it. They go out on a boat and attack the creature. About an hour later, they finally kill it and keep its flesh. The Nautilus then submerges, and they go to the tunnel below the Suez. A powerful current carries them to the Mediterranean in twenty minutes.