Submarine Culture in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Term Paper

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Submarine Culture in Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea"

This paper presents a detailed discussion about Jules Verne's book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. The writer of this paper takes the reader on an exploratory journey of the story itself then works to compare the culture of the people on the submarine to the actual cultures. The writer finishes with a discussion about the comparison. There were four sources used to complete this paper.


Many times in literature the author will use the story to portray or convey some truth in fiction about the culture he is writing about. This was the case with Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. In this book the author takes painstaking efforts to convey many details with extreme accuracy relating to the culture of life at sea and the findings that occur. Other aspects of the culture are not as easily defined because of the various nations that the shipmates come from. Howewver, the culture of sea life is a culture that crosses all barriers and Verne does an excellent job of painting a mental picture for the reader about the culture that his characters lived in the story and would have lived had they been real.

Before one can fully analyze whether or not the culture of those in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is close to the real life culture of sea voyage one must have a firm understanding of the story and its componenets. It is a book that takes an interesting turn close to the beginning and the cultural attitude moves in an entirely different direction from that point on.

Verne opens the story with the tale of a monster at sea. Many pages are devoted to the telling of this monster that has now made worldwide acclaim because to the attacks that it has perpetrated on ships at sea. It is a sea monster of the most violent proportions according to survivors of attacks. It is only appropriate that one of the most respected marine biologists in the world be commissioned to locate and catologue the monster. The reader settles in and believes that the book is going to tell the tale of a monster at sea and the reader is ready to fight the monster along side the scientist and his two assistants.

In a twist of events however once they are at sea they find out that it is not a living breathing monster at all but it is the Nautilus submarine commanded by Captain Nemo. The attacks have been occurring because Nemo does not want the world to know about his submarine and with good reason. He has the most advanced submarine ever imagined in fiction or reality. The scientist Monsier Arronax, his faithful assistant Conseil, and a stubborn Canadian named Ned Land find themselves on the submarine by accident when they had believed they had discovered a monster giant whale. They spend many months on the submarine and throughout the book they fight sea monsters, they explore the depths of the sea with the captain and his crew and they develop a strange sort of bond with their captors as we have read can be the case in any kidnap situation. Eventually the three survive and manage to get free / During the adventures and voyage of the submarine the cultural conditions and traditions of sea life are explored.. Verne was well complimented for his attention to detail in the book that made it authentic and real for the readers, but he did take some artistic license with details now and again to make the story more interesting and plausible.

In addtion to the culture of sea life there is a definite culture that is shared among criminals and captives. The book portrays that in a fictional manner that touches on the reality of the situation but romanticizes it for the sake of the book itself.

Each of the cultures; the sea culture, and the captive culture, work together to produce a story that captivates the reader from the first pages to the ending.

From the very first page the reader is given to understand the international importance of this event. The monster has made attacks on many ships form many nations which makes it internationally important. The author narrates from the first page about he importance of the situation and the speed with which the governments want this taken care of.

The author uses very exacting facts with which to convince the reader of the truth to the story. This is something that is not uncommon in the sea culture. The lingo is familiar and if a seaman wants to prove his story he peppers it with facts to make it more believable. This was also the case with this book as the author works to draw the reader in with passages that walk the walk and talk the talk of seamen.

Similar facts were observed on July 23 in the same year, in the Pacific Ocean, by the Columbus, of the West India and Pacific Steam Navigation Company. But this extraordinary cetaceous creature could transport itself from one place to another with surprising velocity; as, in an interval of three days, the Governor Higginson and the Columbus had observed it at two different points of the chart, separated by a distance of more than seven hundred nautical leagues.Fifteen days later, two thousand miles farther off, the Helvetia, of the Compagnie-Nationale, and the Shannon, of the Royal Mail Steamship Company, sailing to windward in that portion of the Atlantic lying between the United States and Europe, respectively signaled the monster to each other in 42 degrees 15' N. latitude and 60 degrees 35' W. longitude. In these simultaneous observations, they thought themselves justified in estimating the minimum length of the mammal at more than three hundred fifty feet, as the Shannon and Helvetia were of smaller dimensions than it, though they measured three hundred feet over all (Verne, 1990)."

Because of the angles and sea measurements the story is believable. In the real life culture of worthy seamen it is often discussed with such terms and this causes the book to read like a real life story which also draws the reader in.

While the author may have taken some license in his description of the vessel, it was needed because the vessel was supposed to be beyond anything that the world had seen to date. However, while he made it sound like a first class hotel inside the dimensions sounded very similar to what a real submarine might be like. The rooms were long and narrow and the darkness was only removed by the excellent lighting the captain had at his disposal.

After having passed by the cage of the staircase that led to the platform, I saw a cabin six feet long, in which Conseil and Ned Land, enchanted with their repast, were devouring it with avidity. Then a door opened into a kitchen nine feet long, situated between the large storerooms. There electricity, better than gas itself, did all the cooking. The streams under the furnaces gave out to the sponges of platina a heat which was regularly kept up and distributed. They also heated a distilling apparatus, which, by evaporation, furnished excellent drinkable water. Near this kitchen was a bathroom comfortable furnished, with hot and cold water taps. Next to the kitchen was the berth room of the vessel, sixteen feet long. But the door was shut, and I could not see the management of it, which might have given me an idea of the number of men employed on board the Nautilus.At the bottom was a fourth partition that separated this office from the engine room. A door…

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