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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

by Jules Verne

Exploration Theme

Go West—um, we mean, sea-ward—my son! In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Verne crafts an oceanic world filled with marvelous sights and endless delights. But every expedition has its downsides. Nemo's quest to conquer the South Pole nearly gets him, and everyone else on board the Nautilus, killed. Plus, Arronax starts to wonder whether or not (wo)man was meant to see everything this group has seen. So, Verne seems to suggest that even the greatest, most amazing people, places, and things have a dark side. The book's also got us thinkin' that maybe man isn't meant to conquer every corner of the earth… or outer space.

Questions About Exploration

  1. At the end of the book, Aronnax acts as though he has seen as much of the seas as Nemo. Can this possibly be true? Is Aronnax simply being arrogant, or is he trying to make some other point with this statement?
  2. Sure, Aronnax and company do a lot of sightseeing, but what about self-exploration? Do any of Aronnax's many questions lead him to discover something new within himself?
  3. After escaping from the ice at the South Pole, Aronnax, Ned, and Conseil act as though they've seen things that no man was meant to see. What motivates those feelings?
  4. Nemo has "conquered" much of his world, from the Antarctic to Atlantis. What's he to do once he's been to all the ends of the Earth?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Nemo's discoveries, however great they may be, are overshadowed by the incidents of violence that interpolate them.

No matter how deep into the ocean Nemo goes, he cannot hide from his anger or his pain.

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