Study Guide

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Hate

By Jules Verne

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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. So, the ever-lurking, ambiguous nature of his enemies makes us feel like everyone could is his enemy. Nemo's hatred of mankind doesn't prevent him from liking certain individuals, however. He gets along with his crew just fine, he works with the Greek diver, and he saves the poor Indian pearl diver. Plus, despite their differences, he seems to like Aronnax. So Nemo's sort of a mixed bag of fiery hate and not-so-fiery like, after all.

Questions About Hate

  1. Nemo demonstrates compassion and concern on more than one occasion. Can he really be called a misanthrope if he's capable of acts of kindness?
  2. Aronnax is convinced that Nemo is filled with hatred from the moment he meets him. What inspires this gut reaction in Aronnax?
  3. Would we empathize more with Aronnax if his hatred were more targeted?
  4. Aronnax calls Nemo an "archangel of hate." Are there any positive aspects to Nemo's anger? Does it give him a "holy" quality?

Chew on This

Hatred defines Nemo and powers his intellect; without it, he would be not only no one, but nothing.

Though he may seem hateful on the surface, Nemo's commitment to the oppressed peoples of the world suggests that his feelings are much more complex.

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