Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

by

Jules Verne

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Captain Nemo is the commander of the Nautilus, a submarine that he built in secret and on which he lives. Nemo is a highly mysterious person. His real name and national origin are never revealed, and neither are his exact reasons for choosing to live in a state of self-imposed exile underwater. There are hints that Nemo might be a member of an oppressed and/or colonized group of people, and several interpretations of the book cast him as being from India. Nemo certainly feels a great deal of sympathy for oppressed people, although he contradictorily behaves in a rather tyrannical manner himself. He is unusually intelligent, highly educated, and extremely wealthy, having studied engineering in Paris, London, and New York. He seems to have been victimized by a mysterious nation represented by the ship that appears at the end of the novel, upon which Nemo takes violent revenge. There are hints that whatever nation or imperial power the ship represents may have killed Nemo’s family, including a wife and children, although this is not directly confirmed. The novel leaves open the question of whether Nemo is a hero or villain. Much of his behavior—including keeping Arronax, Ned, and Conseil captive, exercising tyrannical rule over his ship, and seeking violent revenge against the mysterious power that he claims wronged him—could certainly be seen as villainous. At the same time, Nemo also has a calm, gentle, and thoughtful side. During the course of the novel, he becomes increasingly despondent, possibly suffering some kind of mental breakdown. Nemo’s final fate remains unknown—it is possible that he dies in the whirlpool in which the Nautilus is caught in Norway, but also plausible that he manages to survive.

Captain Nemo Quotes in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

The Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Nemo or refer to Captain Nemo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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Part 1, Chapter 10 Quotes

A flash of anger and contempt kindled in the eyes of the Unknown, and I had a fleeting vision of some terrible past in the life of this man. Not only had he put himself beyond the pale of human laws, but he had made himself independent of them. In the strictest sense of the word, he was free, because he was outside the reach of the moral code.

Related Characters: Professor Pierre Arronax (speaker), Captain Nemo
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

“Yes, sir, I love it! The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and life-giving. It is an immense desert place where man is never lonely, for he sense the weaving of Creation on every hand. It is the physical embodiment of a supernatural existence.”

Related Characters: Captain Nemo (speaker), Professor Pierre Arronax
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 22 Quotes

“Why are you so astonished, M. Arronax, at meeting savages when you set foot on a strange land? Where in all the earth are there not savages? And do you for a moment suppose them worse than other men, these fellows that you call savages?”

Related Characters: Captain Nemo (speaker), Professor Pierre Arronax
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

“That Indian, my dear sir, is a member of an oppressed race. And I still am and ever shall be one with all such people.”

Related Characters: Captain Nemo (speaker), Professor Pierre Arronax
Page Number: 142-143
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 8 Quotes

It was an unforgettably sad day that I then passed, torn between the desire of regaining my freedom and my dislike of abandoning the marvelous ship and thus leaving my undersea studies incomplete.

Related Characters: Professor Pierre Arronax (speaker), Captain Nemo, Ned Land
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

I had long guessed that, whatever motive had led him to seek freedom at the bottom of the ocean, it had not been an ignoble one. I had seen that his heart still beat for the sorrows of humanity, and sensed that his immense charity was for oppressed races as well as individuals.

Related Characters: Professor Pierre Arronax (speaker), Captain Nemo, Ned Land
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

“What a beautiful situation to be in!” I chortled. “To overrun regions where man has never trod, depths to which even dead or inanimate matter may never more descend! Look, Captain, at these magnificent rocks, these uninhabitable grottoes. Here are the lowest known receptacles of the globe, where life is not only impossible unthinkable. What unknown sights are here? Why should we be unable to find and preserve some visible evidence of our journey as a souvenir?”

Related Characters: Professor Pierre Arronax (speaker), Captain Nemo
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

“I, Captain Nemo, on this 21st day of March, 1868, have reached the South Pole on the 90th degree. And I hereby take possession of this portion of the globe, equal in extent to one-sixth of the continents now known to man.”

“In whose name, sir?” I asked.

“In my own, M. Arronax.”

Related Characters: Professor Pierre Arronax (speaker), Captain Nemo (speaker)
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea PDF

Captain Nemo Character Timeline in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Nemo appears in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 10: The Man of the Seas
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...Arronax is going to witness a “fairyland of marvels.” Finally, he introduces himself as Captain Nemo. Arronax follows Nemo into a dining room, which is brilliantly lit. A lavish breakfast is... (full context)
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...doesn’t recognize many of the dishes, though he senses that they come from the sea. Nemo assures him they are “wholesome and nourishing.” He explains that the vessel’s chef is an... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11: The Nautilus
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Captain Nemo leads Arronax into a library. Nemo boasts of the profound tranquility that can be found... (full context)
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...and plant specimens from the sea, including a gigantic case of pearls. Arronax imagines that Nemo must have paid huge amounts of money for the collection, but Nemo says that he... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 12: The Soul of the Nautilus
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Nemo takes Arronax into the submarine’s control room. Arronax recognizes some of the instruments in there,... (full context)
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...its movement, or how it manages to survive the intense pressure of the deep sea. Nemo says he is happy to explain everything, seeing as Arronax will never leave the Nautilus... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 13: Captain Nemo Explains
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Nemo and Arronax sit in the saloon, smoking seaweed cigars. Nemo explains that the Nautilus is... (full context)
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Nemo explains that the Nautilus is the perfect ship both due to its electrical power and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 14: The Black River
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Nemo announces that it is 11:45 a.m., and they will now travel up to the surface... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 15: A Note of Invitation
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...wakes after a long and peaceful sleep. He goes to the saloon but cannot find Nemo, and thus spends time looking at the marine plants gathered in the glass cases. On... (full context)
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...morning Arronax goes up to the deck, where the same officer says the same thing. Nemo is still missing. On November 16, Arronax finds a letter in his cabin. The letter... (full context)
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The next day, Arronax wakes to find the vessel still. Nemo is waiting for him in the saloon, and the two men eat breakfast together. After... (full context)
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In addition to experimenting with the Rouquayrol apparatus, Nemo has also been using the Ruhmkorff burner, a light that the attaches to his waist... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 16: On the Bottom of the Sea
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Arronax explains to Ned—who balks at the prospect of wearing the suits Nemo has laid out for them—that “the forests of the island of Crespo” are actually deep... (full context)
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...them, but because their submersion in the water prevents this, he talks to himself instead. Nemo leads the way, indicating where the men should go. After about an hour and a... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 17: A Submarine Forest
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...between these, fish swim like birds flying through treetops. After a substantial period of exploration, Nemo indicates for the group to stop. Arronax suddenly feels very tired, and lets himself drift... (full context)
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...begin swiftly moving up toward the surface of the sea. At one point, Arronax watches Nemo take out his gun, and soon after sees that he’s shot a majestic sea otter,... (full context)
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The group of men walk along the sand, and at one point Nemo shoots a bird flying just above the surface of the water. As they head back... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 18: Four Thousand Leagues Under the Pacific
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The next morning, November 18, Arronax notices that Nemo seems distracted. The sailors aboard the Nautilus are bringing in nets that had been left... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 19: The Island of Vanikoro
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...will connect New Zealand to the French territory of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. Nemo replies, “The earth does not need new continents, it needs new men.” Arronax observes walls... (full context)
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...Christmas celebration on the ship. Arronax thinks it would be silly to mention this to Nemo, whom he hasn’t seen in a week. However, shortly after, Nemo comes into the saloon... (full context)
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Nemo asks Arronax to tell the story of La Pérouse, and Arronax proceeds to do so.... (full context)
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...says that he himself believes that no one knows what really happened to La Pérouse. Nemo then proceeds to tell the full version of the story, which involves some of the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 20: Torres Straits
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...magic.” However, shortly after a large jolt alerts Arronax that the Nautilus has struck something. Nemo remains calm, and tells Arronax that they have not experienced an “accident,” but rather just... (full context)
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...that he doesn’t think the Nautilus will ever move again. Conseil suggests that they ask Nemo for permission to walk around on land for a little while, and to Arronax’s surprise,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 22: Captain Nemo’s Thunderbolt
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...and gesturing with anger. When they get back on board the Nautilus, they find Captain Nemo playing the piano organ in the drawing room. When Arronax tells Nemo what happened on... (full context)
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Nemo appears to lose himself in piano-playing again, and Arronax leaves. The next morning, at six... (full context)
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...man.” Arronax, concerned about what he perceives as the Papuans’ increasing boldness, goes to find Nemo. He announces that the Papuans have surrounded the Nautilus in their canoes. Nonchalantly, Nemo presses... (full context)
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Arronax is about to leave, when Nemo requests that he stay to chat. The men discuss the French explorer Dumont d’Urville, who—after... (full context)
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...time, the vessel begins to rock, indicating that the tide is indeed moving it away. Nemo suggests that they open the hatches, even though the Papuans still surround the ship. When... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 23: Confinement
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...one day an incident occurs that jerks them out of this state of acceptance. Captain Nemo spies something in his telescope that appears to greatly disturb him. They are in the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 24: The Realm of Coral
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...to explore the submarine, and doesn’t find anything unusual. However, he also cannot find Captain Nemo. That afternoon, Arronax is sitting in the drawing room when Nemo enters, looking weary. He... (full context)
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On hearing Arronax’s diagnosis, Nemo begins to cry. After a while, Nemo permits Arronax to leave. Arronax feels troubled for... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1: The Indian Ocean
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Arronax has developed a burning curiosity about the source of Nemo’s resentment toward human civilization. Conseil has his own theory—that Nemo is a “misunderstood genius”—but Arronax... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2: The Island of Ceylon
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Captain Nemo invites Arronax to the island of Ceylon, which is known for its pearl fisheries. Nemo... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3: A Pearl of Great Price
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...men speak. At six a.m., they arrive at the bay where the pearl fisheries are. Nemo, Arronax, Conseil, and Ned all don their special rubber suits, with the oxygen apparatus attached... (full context)
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...with a pearl the size of a coconut. Arronax reaches out to touch it, but Nemo bats his hand away. Arronax realizes that Nemo has been leaving it to grow, letting... (full context)
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...circling directly overhead. Just as the shark is opening its jaws to attack the diver, Nemo moves toward it and it turns its attention toward himself. The shark lunges at Nemo,... (full context)
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Arronax reflects on what motivated Nemo to intervene so bravely in order to stop the shark from killing the diver. He... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4: The Red Sea
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...16,220 miles, or 7,500 leagues. As they travel into the Persian Gulf, Arronax wonders where Nemo is leading them. He discusses this question with Ned, who remains miserable about their seemingly... (full context)
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Arronax once again finds himself dazzled by the natural world lying outside the Nautilus’s windows. Nemo asks if Arronax is appreciating the journey through the Red Sea, and Arronax replies in... (full context)
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Arronax asks if, on his journeys, Nemo has ever encountered evidence of the Biblical story of Moses parting the Red Sea. Nemo... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5: Under the Isthmus
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...looking almost as if he wants to throw himself into the water with the animal. Nemo appears, and gives Ned permission to harpoon the dugong, but warns that he should be... (full context)
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...that it weighs 10,000 pounds. Later, the Nautilus pass what appears to be a lighthouse; Nemo explains that it is “the floating light of Suez,” before politely requesting that Arronax leave... (full context)
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Arronax accompanies Nemo into the pilot’s cage, where Nemo soon takes the helm. They approach the tunnel entrance,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: The Grecian Archipelago
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Arronax continues that they can’t trust that Nemo will ever let them go, despite his kind nature. This means that it is imperative... (full context)
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Standing in the saloon with Nemo, Arronax gazes out into the water. He takes note of a number of interesting animals... (full context)
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...tells Conseil and Ned about what he saw the night before. They wonder aloud where Nemo could be sending this huge sum of money. In the evening, Arronax notices that it... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7: The Mediterranean in Forty-Eight Hours
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The Nautilus crosses the Mediterranean quickly; Arronax gets the feeling that Nemo is keen to return to the “open ocean” as soon as possible. The submarine is... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8: Vigo Bay
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...feels a movement that indicates the Nautilus has been parked on the ocean floor. Suddenly, Nemo enters the room, hoping to discuss the history of Spain. He recounts the story of... (full context)
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Nemo explains that they are currently in Vigo Bay, and that Arronax can choose to explore... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9: The Lost Continent
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...Ned of this fact, he is furious, but Arronax himself is rather relieved. That night, Nemo suggests that they explore the ocean floor at night for the first time, and Arronax... (full context)
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Walking out in the darkness with Nemo, Arronax half-expects to encounter a subterranean city. They walk through a thick forest, only emerging... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10: Submarine Coal Mines
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...eight a.m., and is surprised to find that the ship is covered in darkness. A voice—Nemo’s—announces that they are underground, inside an extinct volcano. Nemo explains that he uses the cave... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11: Submarine Coal Mines
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...it moves through the middle of the Atlantic at a steady pace; Arronax guesses that Nemo is heading back to the South Pacific. He wonders if Nemo will grant them permission... (full context)
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Somewhat surprised, Nemo points out that it is very easy to take a photograph of the scene before... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12: Cachalots and Whales
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Arronax remains confused about where the submarine is heading. Nemo has been speaking less and less, and Arronax senses that Nemo has a “suppressed anger”... (full context)
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...it’s torture not to be able to harpoon them. Conseil suggests that Ned asks for Nemo’s permission to hunt them, and Ned immediately goes off to do so. Yet Nemo doesn’t... (full context)
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However, Nemo then points out another mass in the ocean, arguing that these are “cachalots” (sperm whales),... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13: The Great Ice Barrier
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Arronax remains puzzled over the direction in which the Nautilus is heading, wondering if Nemo is aiming to reach the South Pole. They are so far south that there are... (full context)
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While Arronax is convinced that the vessel is stuck, Nemo remains confident that it will come loose, and that they will be able to go... (full context)
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...sleeping, and finds that he can barely tell “whether [he is] asleep or waking.” Finally, Nemo bursts into the saloon with the news that they have reached a patch of open... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14: The South Pole
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Arronax rushes up to the platform. He asks Nemo if they are at the South Pole, but Nemo isn’t sure. Along with Conseil, the... (full context)
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...Ned has been seeming increasingly miserable and furious by the day. After breakfast, Arronax joins Nemo and two crew members on a boat, bringing measuring instruments with them. Passing whales, they... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15: An Overturned Mountain
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The next morning they prepare to leave “Nemo Land.” Before long, the Nautilus has descended back into the water and is underneath the... (full context)
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Nemo is attempting to drive the Nautilus back up to the surface of the ocean, but... (full context)
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...Finally, there is another jolt to the boat, and Arronax grabs Conseil’s hand in terror. Nemo enters, and says that they are walled in by ice on every side. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16: A Living Tomb
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The Nautilus is imprisoned in a cage of ice. Nemo calmly says that they will die in one of two ways—they will either be crushed,... (full context)
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...to the ship he finds that he’s almost “chocked” by all the carbon dioxide. Although Nemo lets in more oxygen to the atmosphere, it doesn’t stop the feeling of “suffocation.” The... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18: The Poulps
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...six months, and there is no indication that this will change. They’ve noticed that Captain Nemo has become increasingly antisocial, and they wonder what it means. Observing the fauna around him,... (full context)
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Other poulps then appear, swimming in a kind of “procession” behind the Nautilus. Arronax sees Nemo, who looks more dejected than ever. Nemo calmly remarks that a battle is incoming, because... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 19: The Gulf Stream
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Nemo is devastated by the battle with the poulps and its aftermath. Arronax is also disturbed,... (full context)
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Arronax points out that Nemo has been avoiding him, but Ned urges him to go and find Nemo. Yet when... (full context)
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...He says that they don’t have to speak about the topic ever again, but urges Nemo to take pity on Ned, and warns him that Ned might try to take “revenge”... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 20: We Visit a Tomb
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...is standing on the platform and sees a large steamer in the distance. He hears Nemo announce, “It is here.” Confused, he wonders if Nemo is talking about the steamer. The... (full context)
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While Arronax gazes at the shipwreck, Nemo explains that the ship was called the Marseillais, and was launched in 1762. He gives... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 21: Human Sacrifice
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Arronax is moved by the emotion in Nemo’s voice as he speaks about the name Avenger. It is finally becoming clear to Arronax... (full context)
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...that they try to show that they are friendly and begins waving a handkerchief, but Nemo calls him an “idiot.” Nemo then shouts mockingly at the other ship, encouraging them to... (full context)
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Nemo claims that he is “the oppressed” and that the ship before them is his “oppressor,”... (full context)
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...what to do. The submarine accelerates, and Arronax runs into the saloon, where he finds Nemo. Nemo is staring out of the window at the other ship, which is now an... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 22: Captain Nemo’s Last Words
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Arronax is horrified by Nemo’s act of vengeance, which he believes cannot possibly be justified. He goes to his room,... (full context)
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...the Nautilus, which now appear to him like “scenes in a drama.” In his mind, Nemo has become a kind of sea-monster. Suddenly, Nemo wakes and realizes that he was dreaming.... (full context)
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...the saloon and finds it dark, but the sounds of the organ assure him that Nemo is in there. Just as it seems as if Arronax has successfully managed to sneak... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 23: Conclusion
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...he travelled underwater for 20,000 leagues. He doesn’t know what ultimately happened to the Nautilus, Nemo, or his manuscript. He hopes that if Nemo is still alive, “the hatred in his... (full context)