Journey to the Center of the Earth Jules Verne is an exciting suspenseful novel which contains many themes. Three related themes which I would like to explore are man versus Nature, courage to help others, and explore and survive. Throughout the novel we see Axel and Professor Lidenbrock fighting the mighty forces of nature. We also see how their courage, which is seen again and again with each dangerous situation, gives them the strength to continue. Finally because of their courage, they survive and prosper at the end. Upon exploring each theme and seeing their interconnectedness, we will have a better understanding why Journey to the Center of the Earth is an exciting suspenseful novel.
Throughout the story it is necessary for Dr. Lidenbrock, and his companions, Alex, his nephew, and Hans the guide, to battle Nature. In fact, the entire story is really a journey fighting the great forces of Nature. As trained geologists, the uncle and nephew, clearly love Nature and appreciates its great powers, as does the guide Hans. Just as sailors are drawn to the sirens in the ocean, the men were drawn to the inner belly of the volcano. This can clearly be seen when Alex says: “Nothing was more intoxicating than this attraction of the abyss. I was going to fall. A hand held me back.” (pg. 86). His love of Nature almost made him drunk enough to fall to his death but thankfully he was saved by the guide Hans. Repeatedly the men need to try and outsmart nature as Nature tries to engulf them in the mountain. This happened when Alex got lost, Hans needed to fight for water, and when they had the daunting task of removing the rock that blocked their passage. Surprisingly, although all of the men do know the awesome power of Nature, they nonetheless become careless and somewhat arrogant by thinking that they can overcome its forces or that Nature will provide a way out for them. While they do eventually outwit Nature and make it to the end center of the Earth, Nature does, in a final show of awe-inspiring strength, expel all of them from its belly. In the end, it would appear that a draw has occurred where neither party has won and both have survived.As we will see next, courage was one of the main reasons they were able toovercome the challenges they faced.
The courage of all the men can be seen throughout the entire novel. One person’s courage stands out above all though and that is courage of Hans. Hans has chosen to face death as a living, and he takes his job seriously. He is never afraid of facing death and knows that is what is expected of him. He rightly fears Nature at times, but is never afraid to face it. He keeps his fear inside and never reveals it to the uncle and nephew. Lidenbrock has courage too but his courage is at times, thoughtless, careless, and even reckless as when he explodes the rock and has no idea what will happen. It should also be pointed out that the professor did not hesitate for a moment to go on this treacherous journey upon learning that his nephew had deciphered the code. Within ten seconds of knowing, he told his nephew to get ready for the trip. The professor never once feared death. Axel, however, is different. He fears death, but is still courageous. In spite of wanting to quit the journey on numerous occasions, he persevered and continued until they had succeeded, As can be seen, they all possessed great amounts of courage, and it was courage that allowed them to survive. Survival, and thus not dying, depended greatly on their courage.
While undertaking their adventurous journey, the men faced death numerous times. It was, as if Nature was waiting to entomb them in her bowels. It was really only due to Hans with his real practical hands-on experience, that the Uncle and nephew survived. It would not be exaggerating to say that every step of the way had the potential of ending their lives, and they could have perished in numerous places. Knowing how to survive in the worst conditions was imperative. For example, when Axel got lost, his life was in serious jeopardy, but once again, if it were not for Hans, Alex would have died. One of the most fascinating and terrifying parts of the story, is the great storm they must endure. The men, understandable doubt their survival when they see the massive size of the storm as seen by Axel’s words when he says:
“No, the luminous power of this light, its flickering diffusion, its clear whiteness, the lowness of the temperature, its brilliance, all pointed to an electrical origin. It was like an aurora borealis, a continuous cosmic phenomenon, filling this cavern big enough to hold an ocean.” (pg.138) The danger of death could not be more clear and their only job was to survive the clutches of Nature. They do survive but sometimes due to a greater amount of luck than skill.
As we have seen throughout his blog, the men had to repeatedly overcome the massive, incredibly strong and unprectable forces of Nature. To do this, they had to possess great courage, and without this courage, they clearly would not have survived. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, is book with filled with many themes, but these three themes are so importantly tied together that they enable us to better perceive the beauty of this story.