20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Man and the Natural World Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
The human mind enjoys grandiose conceptions of supernatural beings. Now the sea is their best vehicle, for it is the only environment which can produce and develop such giants; beside them the land animals, the elephants or rhinoceroses are mere dwarfs. (1.2.25)
Maybe the sea is also the only place big enough to contain Nemo's human ambitions. The oceans' vast wonders capture Nemo's imagination… and Aronnax's too.
The sea is nature's vast reserve. It was through the sea that the globe as it were began, and who knows if it will not end in the sea! Perfect peace abides here. The sea does not belong to despots. On its surface immoral rights can still be claimed, men can fight each other, devour each other, and carry out all earth's atrocities. But thirty feet below the surface their power ceases, their influence fades, their authority disappears. Ah, sir, live, live in the heart of the sea! Independence is possible only here! Here I recognize no master! Here I am free! (1.10.79)
Nemo speaks as though he were born in the sea… as if he were no longer a man, but rather a creature of the ocean. What about Nemo's character allows us to think of him as more than a man—as a symbol or a mythical creature?
"Look," he continued; "it is waking up in the sun's caresses! It is going to live its daily life again! How absorbing to study the full life of its organism!" (18.11)
When it comes to the ocean, Nemo's able to see the forest and the trees, as it were. It's both one huge organism and a place filled with a huge variety of life. Even though Nemo has a conflicted relationship with nature, he sure does respect it.