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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Exile

Nemo's a man with no home but all of the world's oceans. Yeah, we don't feel too bad for him. When we read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we don't know exactly why Nemo left dry land behind. Sure, i...

Hate

There's a word for Nemo's particular brand of hatin': misanthropy. That's a fancy term for "a dislike of mankind." In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we never really know who has caused Nemo's pain....

Revenge

What good action movie (or sci fi book) doesn't have a character who lives for revenge? "Do you think I am unaware there are suffering beings and oppressed races on this planet," Nemo asks Aronnax...

Identity

People often say that you should always remember who you are and where you came from. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nemo sure ain't forgettin'; but he's not telling us a whole lot, either....

Justice

We here at Shmoop are pretty suspicious of anyone who tries to enforce martial law. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Aronnax calls Nemo a "terrible lawgiver" (2.21.91). But we never get a sense of...

Exploration

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. N...

Freedom and Confinement

In some ways, Nemo has incredible freedom, yet he's confined to a cigar-shaped metal boat for most of his days. Aronnax, Ned, and Conseil enjoy a similar kind of freedom as Nemo while they're his c...

Man and the Natural World

Nemo may be able to order his crew around, but he can't control all living things… even if he really, really wants to. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nemo's underwater dominance does not go unc...

Technology and Modernization

Everybody loves a good super-genius, especially one who can construct a super-powerful submarine. Nemo's mastery of science and engineering—as demonstrated by his diving suits and electricity gun...
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