This novel- 20000 Leagues under the Sea was written by Jules Verne (Retold and published by Singapore Asia Publishers Pte Ltd)

About the Author

Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France in 1828. He was sent to Paris by his father to study law at university. Verne gave up law and started writing. He is often called the founding father of science fiction. He lived in poverty for ten years before his first success when he published his first novel in 1863. From then on, he published at least one book per year, many of which reflected his interest in scientific progress and inventions. Several of his ideas have been prophetic and have become fact, for instance, the submarine Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under the sea predated modern submarines by almost thirty years. His books have been a favourite by readers all around the world. He died in 1905. He had published over sixty works.



Professor Pierre Aronnax, an Assistant Professor from the Museum of Natural History in Paris is invited on an expedition with Commander Farragut on his ship, Abrahim Lincoln to get rid of a sea monster. They attack the sea monster but it turns out to be the Nautilus, a submarine run by Captain Nemo. The professor, his servant and Ned Land are captured and forced to travel with the submarine crew to the world’s oceans. Not knowing exactly where he is, Professor  Aronnax knows that he is in for quite an adventure. Despite being a prisoner, Professor Aronnax is intrigued by the wonders of the sea, the capabilities of the Nautilus, and the strange behaviour and actions of Captain Nemo. The men are amazed with the deep-sea creatures and they travel to remote islands. They encounter a brilliant madman who travels the seas seeking revenge and beauty. Unable to continue in such a manner, they risk their lives to free themselves. Their chance arrives when the Nautilus enters a dangerous part of the sea called the Maelstrom, the men survive. They find themselves safe in a fisherman’s cottage. Professor Aronnax does not know whether Nautilus escapes the Maelstorm and if Captain Nemo is still alive.


Professor Aronnax: an expert of undersea life, he gets panicky easily when he falls into the sea. However, he has refined knowledge of academic philosophy and culture. He is unable to rely on his senses or on real-life experience. He must be able to reason everything scientifically. He is more inclined to believe science than his own experience.

Captain Nemo: In Latin, Nemo means nobody. It is very true of the captain as he cannot be identified by a name and he asks others to call him Nemo, which appears to be a self-appointed name.

Ned Land: Ned Land’s name obviously comes from Land. He hunts what is in the sea but is attached to the Land. He is much “earthier” than Professor Aronnax.

Conseil: Conseil in French means counsel. He offers counsel to Professor Aronnax.



The plot of a novel comprises of the series of events that make up the story.  It is the sequence of events that take place in the story .There are five important parts in a plot.

  1. Introduction/Exposition: A mysterious creature has been sinking ships. Pierre Aronnax, an expert on the undersea world, is asked to go on a search mission by the US Navy. On board the ship are Pierre Aronnax, a renowned scientist along with his manservant, Conseil, and Ned Land the king of harpooners. The men meet Captain Nemo, the commander of the vessel, known as theNautilus. 
  1. Rising Action: Captain Nemo tells them they must never leave theNautilus because he wants to protect its secrets, and his own.
  1. Climax: Nemo attacks a warship. Aronnax does not know to which country the warship belongs and baffled when Captain Nemo sinks it. The men decide they must escape at all costs. This is a major decision, which permanently changes their condition of imprisonment.
  1. Falling action: They realize they are heading toward a giant whirlpool. However, they survived. They awake in the hut of a fisherman.
  1. Denouement/ Resolution: Aronnax plans to return to France and continue writing.


Here are some of the places mentioned in the novel:

  1. Coast of Australia in July, 1866: The place where the enormous unidentified ‘thing’ was first seen.
  2. The Abraham Lincoln: A warship in which Professor Aronnax was invited to join for the expedition to track down the creature that has been destroying ships at sea. It is the best ship of the United States navy which is well equipped to catch the strange sea creature.
  3. Nautilus: A highly technological submarine designed, engineered and built by Captain Nemo who has a mystical relationship with the submarine which has become his entire world.
  4. Forest of Crespo Island: Captain Nemo presents to Professor Aronnax an underwater island on their first undersea expedition. It is a valley that contains treelike plants whose branches rose straight up.
  5. Coral Kingdom: The place where they buried the dead man who was treated by Professor Aronnax. The corals build up over the graves and seal the bodies forever.
  6. Arabian Tunnel: An underground passage at Suez which is a layer of solid rock with a natural tunnel. The Nautilus went through this tunnel to reach the Mediterranean.
  7. Vigo Bay: A graveyard of old-wrecked ships filled with treasure.The place where twenty-three ships loaded with treasure was set fire when the Spanish admiral felt that he would lose the battle with the English


Man and Nature

Nature here refers to the wonderful nature of the world beneath the waves.  Both Captain Nemo and Dr. Aronnax love the sea and have a fascination with the creatures they see and observe. This has made difficult for Aronnax to leave when he is finally convinced that he must escape.

In this story Captain Nemo is trying to overcome nature by creating a new environment. This is typical in a science fiction where man tries to overcome nature. Despite his attempt to create a new environment, he cannot control all living things. Forces of nature get in Nemo’s way in incidences such as being attacked by a shark and being trapped in an ice tunnel.

Technology and Modernization

Nemo has very good knowledge in the field of science and engineering.  His submarine manufactures its own electricity, has provisions for quantities of oxygen that allow it to remain submerged, and is as comfortable as any home. All food comes from the ocean. There is clothing made from some sort of sea fiber. There are cigars made of a special seaweed. Captain Nemo has air guns that allow him and the crew to go hunting as well as a device that permits the crew to walk the ocean floor. However, his achievements in the field of science has alienated him from humanity. He is considered to be a genius but at the same time he is also an outcast. His inventions are many hundreds of years ahead of time; thus, he does not belong in the world he is currently living. Technology and modernization can affect us in both ways- positively and sometimes in a negative way if we do not understand how to live in it.

Adventure and Exploration

Dr. Aronnax, takes on the task of identifying and classifying every animal on the planet. Captain Nemo takes his strange submarine into places no man has ever been before: a coral kingdom, a bed filled with pearls, the Arabian tunnel and so forth. He travels thousands of kilometres under and on the surface of the sea because he has a quest for adventure and knowledge. This quest for knowledge and understanding and the need to explore every centimetre of the planet seems to be a function inseparable from the human brain. The author understands this impulse to acquire new knowledge.


Captain Nemo’s Room: His room may be interpreted as a symbol of the Captain himself: his exterior (the extravagantly decorated ship) is commanding and intimidating–his interior (his room) is hollow, and lonely.

The Giant Pearl: This pearl holds a kind of appeal for Nemo. It is really beautiful, and as long as it stays a secret. It is something unique that he owns. It’s a piece of Nemo’s private, self-constructed world that represents the allure of the untouched, of unsolved mysteries.

The name “NEMO”: Nemo in Latin means “No One”. It describes the captain as a mysterious man.  It is as if he is protecting his identity. 

Meaning of the Title

 A league is an old-fashioned measurement of distance that’s approximately equivalent to 5 kilometres. 5 x 20,000 = 100,000 kilometres. This is the distance Aronnax, Nemo, and company travel under the sea, not the depth they go while traveling. 20,000 leagues is about a quarter of the way to the moon when the moon’s closest to earth as written by Verne in his book From the Earth to the Moon. The title tells us of how epic and extensive the journey is. The phrase “under the sea” is important because it points the Nautilus is not a regular old boat; but one that can travel beneath the waves.







The poems studied in Form One are: ‘The River’ – Valerie Bloom and ‘Mr. Nobody’ – Unknown author. There is only one short story to study and that is: ‘Flipping Fantastic’ – Jane Langford and apart from that you have to study a Novel. Let’s review each one of them so that you will be prepared for your examination.


The following are the novels studied in the literature component in English Language

  1. Black Beauty                                      –           Anna Sewell
  2. Journey to The Centre of the Earth    –           Jules Verne
  3. TheBoscombeValley  Mystery        –           Arthur Conan Doyle



Synopsis of ‘Black Beauty’

Black Beauty tells of the life of Black Beauty, a colt living inEngland.  The story begins with Black Beauty having a happy childhood growing up in the peaceful countryside. In his later years, he encounters cruelty. Things go from bad to worse when Black Beauty’s new owners begin renting him out for profit. Black Beauty endures a life of mistreatment and disrespect in a world that shows little regard for the happiness of animals. However, the story ends on a happy note. Black Beauty spends the rest of his days treated well on a farm.


Synopsis of ‘Boscombe Valley Mystery’


A man named Charles McCarthy has been murdered. McCarthy was killed by a blow to the back of the head while standing next to Boscombe Pool. Witnesses saw McCarthy walking towards the pool, followed quickly by his son, James; they also saw the two of them fighting violently. James is found near the body of his father with blood on his hands. Inspector Lestrade, the Scotland Yard officer who loves giving Holmes a hard time, is sure that James is guilty. But Holmes keeps defending James: after all, he notes, “Cooee” is an Australian cry, and McCarthy’s last words weren’t “a rat” but “Ballarat,” an Australian city name. Fortunately, James’s case is dismissed due to lack of evidence, James marries Miss Turner, and John Turner takes his secret to the grave seven months later.


Synopsis of  ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’

A German scientist, Otto Lidenbrock, discovered the existence of a volcanic tube or tunnel that lead to the centre of the earth. His discovery was based on a cryptic note that was found in an old manuscript he had bought. His nephew, Axel who helped him decipher the coded message and Hans, their guide, set off to explore the tunnel. They encountered astonishing sights of prehistoric animals, plants, natural disasters and unusual landscapes. The living creatures that they met represent the different era or time from the beginning of earth. The geological time is depicted in layers which are synonymous to the rock layers of the earth. The tunnel ended in Italy.


Sample Question 1:

Write about an incident that you think is important. Give reasons why you think the incident is important.

The most exciting part or important moment in the story is when Black Beauty gets injured while riding Mr. Reuben Smith one late night.  Reuben Smith is the new stable boy. There is a loose nail in Beauty’s front shoe. While riding, Beauty feels his shoe slip off and the stones on the road split his shoeless hoof. Black Beauty stumbles and falls. Reuben falls and is hurt. When the riders come by at midnight, they find that Reuben is dead. Black Beauty is badly injured on his knees. He is brought back to the stable and is treated. However it takes a long time for him to heal and he ends up with scars on his knees. This is the turning point in Black Beauty’s life. Beauty is put up for sale after he is healed. Black Beauty cannot work as a carriage horse and is put up for sale. He becomes a job horse and is rented to different people. Some do not know how to ride him well and some mistreat him. He is also up for sale for a few times. Reuben’s negligence has caused Black Beauty to endure sufferings.


Sample Question 2:

Write about a character that you find most interesting. Support your answer with evidence from the novel.

The character in the Boscombe Valley Mystery I find the most interesting is definitely Dr. Watson. He is a loyal companion of detective Sherlock Holmes. He agreed to help Sherlock Holmes although he had a lot of patients to see. He is also very punctual. Although he had only half an hour to get ready, he was at the station on time. Apart from that he is very observant. He notices some unusual footprints at the pool. Watson’s notes about the injury the murder victim had sustained which is a blow to the left side of the head actually prompted Holmes to realise that the killer was left-handed, which allowed him to narrow the list of suspects. He is also a concerned man. He asks Alice about her father’s condition. He is also helpful. He brings the pen and paper for John turner to write the confession.


Sample Question 3:

Write about a moral value you have learnt in the story. Support your answer with evidence from the novel.

The moral value that I have learnt from the novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” is never to give up. I admire Professor Otto Lidenbrock, Axel, and Hans who went to Sneffels where they were let down by cloudy skies. But on the last day the sun comes out and they enter the correct crater. Once in they face many mishaps like being in a chamber filled with combustible gas and face several prehistoric creatures. After the journey they return to Hamburg to great acclaim–Professor Lidenbrock is hailed as one of the greatest scientists of history.



Reviewing the short Story ‘Flipping Fantastic”


Flipping Fantastic is a story presented in the form of diary or journal entries. It conveys the thoughts of twin brothers, Tristan and James and their mother. The twin boys have always been together and for the first time they have to go to two different schools. Tristan who is a disabled, wheel-chair bound boy will be going to Chesterlea Grange, a residential school for special children. His brother James will be going to Highfields, a normal secondary school. Since James and Tristan have always been together, both James and their mother are worried about Tristan’s well being in the new school. Tristan on the other hand was experiencing mixed feelings about leaving the familiar Peter Hill Primary and starting at Chesterlea Grange. In the end, both Tristan and James decide that they would make it on their own if they set their mind to it.

Sample Essay type Question:

Tristan and James are as different as day and night although they are twins. Describe the differences in their characters as depicted in the story Flipping Fantastic by Jane Langford


Sample Answer:

Tristan has a positive disposition with high self-esteem. He has high linguistic skills. He is also very friendly and makes friends easily. He has shown that he is mature by agreeing that Chelsea Grange is the right school for him. James on the other hand has low self esteem, timid and lacks confidence. He wants Tristan to reconsider his decision about going to Chelsea Grange.

Sample Multiple –Choice type questions:

Questions 1 – 3 are based on extract from the short story Flipping Fantastic



I am so relieved! Tristan has just told Mum that he doesn’t want to go to Chesterlea after all. That means he will be coming to Highfields with me. Thank goodness for that! I don’t know how I would have managed without him. I was already thinking up a million excuses not to go to school on the first day. I’ve thought of every illness from bubonic plague to yellow fever. Somehow I don’t think that Mum would have believed any of them!

I know that Highfields probably won’t be half as bad as I think but I’m still very glad that Tristan will be there with me. He can look after me and I can look after him. I can help him with his wheelchair up all the ramps in the corridors and I can hold back the automatic doors when they start to close too soon. I can make sure that he can get to the toilet when he needs to, and I can tell the teacher what he can and can’t do in PE.




1.         Why was James relieved?

A.        Tristan would be with James

B.        Tristan would not be at Highfields

C.        James could manage without Tristan

D.        Tristan was going to Chesterlea Grange



2.         If Tristan was not going with James, he thought of many excuses just to

A.        go to Chesterlea

B.        go to Highfields

C.        manage without Tristan

D.        quit school on the first day



3.         James wants his brother to do all the following except

            A.        His brother can look after James

B.        Help his brother with his wheelchair

C.        James can look after his brother

D.        Help James to hold back the automatic doors



Reviewing the poem – ‘The River’ by Valerie Bloom


The river being an element of nature, takes its physical form by flowing through valleys and hills. The river is continuously moving as it twists and turns to find its way through the plains. Along its course, it retains whatever it collects.  It is alive as it gurgles, murmurs, sings and dances along its route. However, the river can also create natural disasters such as erosion or floods.


Sample Questions For the poem-The River


1.         Which of these statements is true?

A.        The river chooses where it wants to go

B.        The river has set a camp by the bank

C.        The river is always in motion

D.        The river likes wanderers


2.         The river represents

A.        the journey in man’s life

B.        the good nature of man

C.        the fear in man

D.        the destructive nature of man



3.         Why does the river twist and turn?

A.        To avoid hard objects

B.        It likes to twist and turn

C.        It is flowing continuously

D.        It keeps a lot of objects


ANSWER: 1.C    2. A.   3. A


Reviewing the poem ‘Mr. Nobody’ (Author Unknown)

Synopsis of the Poem

The poem is about a mysterious little person who creates a lot of mischief in the house and gets away with it. This person is named as Mr. Nobody to give a shroud of mystery to the persona. He is not noticed as he moves around very quietly. Mr. Nobody makes a mess of things in the house. He uses things but never puts them back in order. He dirties the house, leaves his prints everywhere, soils the carpet and the curtains. When things are misplaced in the house, everyone points the finger to Mr. Nobody. Yet he never gets caught as no one has ever seen him or reports of his deeds.


Sample Questions For the poem Mr. Nobody


Mr. Nobody (stanza1)

I know a funny little man,

As quiet as a mouse,

Who does the mischief that is done

In everybody’s house!

There’s no one ever sees his face,

And yet we all agree

That every plate we break was cracked

By Mr. Nobody  

                                                                      Author Unknown

1.         According to the first stanza, everyone……….:

A.        agrees that Mr. Nobody creates all the mischief

B.        has seen the person who is funny

C.        knows that Mr. Nobody is actually a mouse that runs around the house.

D.        knows Mr. Nobody goes around disturbing everyone.


2.         The use of the simile ‘ As quiet as a mouse’ implies that Mr. Nobody is….

A.        so quiet that he is unnoticed

B.        as dirty as the house mouse

  1. able to walk fast just like a mouse

D.        a  person who will not talk


3.         The poem is about…

A.        a funny invisible person

B.        mischief created by someone

C.        a naughty boy

D.        Mr. Nobody’s life



Answer: 1. A.    2. A.    3. B