20,000 Leagues under the Sea | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Course Hero. "20,000 Leagues under the Sea Study Guide." June 29, 2017. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/20000-Leagues-under-the-Sea/.


Course Hero, "20,000 Leagues under the Sea Study Guide," June 29, 2017, accessed June 12, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/20000-Leagues-under-the-Sea/.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea | Quotes


The great depths of the ocean are totally unknown to us ... What transpires in those remote abysses? ... We can scarcely even guess.

Dr. Aronnax, Part 1, Chapter 2

The narrator, Dr. Aronnax, is expressing the feeling of mystery the seas evoke in humankind and setting the backdrop of mystery that will pervade the book.


It's one thing for ordinary folk to choose to believe in incredible comets crossing space or prehistoric monsters living inside the earth; but neither the astronomer nor the geologist accept such fantasies. The same goes for the whaler.

Ned Land, Part 1, Chapter 4

Ned Land is explaining to Dr. Aronnax why he's skeptical about the existence of any sort of undiscovered sea monster. Anyone who is a professional should know better than to indulge in outlandish theories that appeal to the masses.


I shall pursue that animal until my frigate blows up!

Captain Farragut, Part 1, Chapter 6

With this exclamation the captain of the Abraham Lincoln reveals just how determined he is to hunt the mysterious sea creature.


Abandon monsieur? Never! I intend to drown before he does.

Conseil, Part 1, Chapter 7

Conseil is declaring his utter devotion to Dr. Aronnax as the two float in the Pacific. Dr. Aronnax is struggling to stay afloat, and he tells Conseil to leave him in order to save himself.


This man was certainly the most admirable specimen I had ever met.

Dr. Aronnax, Part 1, Chapter 8

Dr. Aronnax's first impression of Captain Nemo is unforgettable; he is captivated by both the captain's physical presence and his demeanor.


I am not what you call a civilized being! I have broken with society for reasons which I alone have the right to appreciate. So I do not obey its rules, and I ask you never to invoke them in my presence again!

Captain Nemo, Part 1, Chapter 10

When Captain Nemo first introduces himself to his new guests, he says they are lucky to still be alive because he could have taken the submarine underwater while they were on top of it. Dr. Aronnax protests that doing so is the "right of a savage," not a "civilized being." Captain Nemo gives this fiery response, which makes it clear he conducts himself by his own rules, not society's.


To give up the insupportable yoke of the land which men equate with freedom is perhaps not such a great sacrifice as you may imagine.

Captain Nemo, Part 1, Chapter 10

Captain Nemo says this to the men after they object to living on the Nautilus forever. In the captain's view, however, life on land—that is, with society—is overrated; true freedom is actually found on the Nautilus.


And now, how can I possibly record the impression made on me by this excursion under the waters? Words are inadequate to recount such marvels!

Dr. Aronnax, Part 1, Chapter 16

Dr. Aronnax is absolutely awestruck after his first exploration in a diving suit to the forests of Crespo Island. This awe is the main reason he can tolerate imprisonment so long: his travels on the Nautilus are both piquing and gratifying Aronnax's primary interest in life.


Look at this ocean, Dr. Aronnax, is it not endowed with an authentic life of its own?

Captain Nemo, Part 1, Chapter 18

Captain Nemo makes this unprovoked declaration to Dr. Aronnax after their journey to the forests of Crespo Island. He is expressing his appreciation for the wonders of the sea and the natural world, an appreciation that clearly still burns strongly even after (presumably) many years living in the ocean.


Where are there not savages, and in any case, are those that you call savages any worse than the others?

Captain Nemo, Part 1, Chapter 22

Captain Nemo is criticizing Dr. Aronnax for referring to the Papuans as "savages." His implication is that so-called "civilized" people can be just as "savage" as anyone in the Pacific Islands—or anywhere else in the world.


In the interests of the table, it is better to hunt it.

Ned Land, Part 2, Chapter 5

This is Ned Land's response to Conseil after he suggests sparing the dugongs in their vicinity as they are travel through the Red Sea. Clearly, the values of Ned Land and Conseil (who shares Dr. Aronnax's beliefs) are quite different; as a professional harpooner-hunter, Ned Land isn't very concerned about conservation.


Freedom is worth paying for.

Ned Land, Part 2, Chapter 8

As his imprisonment continues, Ned Land increasingly believes escape is worth any cost, including death.


What would be the point? ... Hunting simply to destroy!

Captain Nemo, Part 2, Chapter 12

This is Captain Nemo's response to Ned Land after the harpooner asks for permission to take the dinghy out to hunt Antarctic whales. As a lover of the sea and steward of the natural world, Captain Nemo sees no value in hunting for sport.


One can disdain human laws, but not resist natural ones.

Captain Nemo, Part 2, Chapter 15

Captain Nemo says this to Dr. Aronnax after the submarine gets pinned by an iceberg while traveling underneath the South Pole. It's an excellent distillation of his philosophy; in his view, the only "laws" that are unassailable are the ones imposed by nature.


Do not take it on yourself to judge me, monsieur.

Captain Nemo, Part 2, Chapter 21

Captain Nemo says this to Dr. Aronnax, seemingly without a trace of remorse, just before the Nautilus sinks the warship that is pursuing it. It reveals Captain Nemo's dark side, which he successfully conceals from the men for most of the Nautilus's journey.

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