The Mysterious Island
The book tells the adventures of five American prisoners of war on an uncharted island in the South Pacific. Begining in the American Civil War, as famine and death ravage the city of Richmond, Virginia, five northern POWs decide to escape in a rather unusual way – by hijacking a balloon! This is only the beginning of their adventures. (From feedbooks.com)
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"The Mysterious Island," written by the Frenchman Jules Verne, was originally published in 1874 under the French title "L'Île mystérieuse." Verne is well-known for his role in writing adventure and science fiction novels. His fascination with scientific facts and the workings of the natural world is evident in "The Mysterious Island." Verne never claimed to be an actual scientist, however. As you read, you will find a mixture of realistic scientific details and impossible fictional details. (This annotation contains an image)
The "car" of the hot air balloon refers to the basket beneath the balloon which carried the passengers. (This annotation contains an image)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a Define option will appear.
Use the Define feature to help you choose the best paraphrase for the highlighted sentence.
The image below depicts the car falling away from the balloon as the men cling to the net. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the effect of beginning the story in medias res?
Chapter 1 of "The Mysterious Island" begins in medias res. Watch the video below for an explanation of this literary device. (This annotation contains a video)
"The Mysterious Island" begins in the year 1865, the last year of the American Civil War. The Civil War, which lasted from April 1861 to April 1865, was fought between the Union (the North) and the Confederacy (the South). (This annotation contains an image)
Cyrus Harding seems to be almost impossibly amazing. Describe three of Cyrus' main strengths in your own words.
Gideon Spilett is a journalist, someone who writes newspaper articles. Although writing may seem like an unadventurous profession, being a journalist often involves intelligence, courage, and determination to investigate dangerous situations in order to share the truth with the world.
This page of the real newspaper, The New York Herald, shows the front page the day after President Lincoln was assassinated. Gideon Spilett and his companions had been marooned on an island for two weeks when this fateful event occurred. (This annotation contains an image)
Who are the Federals?
The first hot air balloon flight took place in 1783. By the 1860s, hot air balloons remained the only method for humans to travel by air. Hot air balloons were used mainly for reconnaissance (spying on the enemy) during the Civil War. The picture below shows the Union army's Chief Aeronaut, Thaddeus Lowe, ascending in a balloon. (This annotation contains an image)
Harding and Pencroft are willing to risk a dangerous journey in a balloon because "they risked nothing but their lives." What does this explanation reveal about their characters?
All five individuals who plan to escape in the hot air balloon are supporters of the Union and reject the idea of slavery. Neb's character, still contains some stereotypes of a slave. Although he is free, he remains slavishly devoted to his former master.
Which answer below correctly lists all the voyagers who take off in the hot air balloon?
How is an islet distinguished from an island? Use the Define feature to help you.
The characters are about to investigate the setting in which they are now stranded. Watch the video below for an explanation of setting. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the setting in which the men find themselves stranded?
The use of the word "capitally" here is a bit dated. In the 1800s, this word meant "splendidly" or "very well."
Have you ever seen a lithodome? (This annotation contains an image)
Now that the characters and conflict have been established, the story begins to follow the typical pattern of a plot diagram. Watch the video below for an overview of plot elements. (This annotation contains a video)
Which option below best describes the exposition of this book?
For what is Pencroft grateful in the highlighted lines?
The rock pigeon, or rock dove, can be found all over the world. (This annotation contains an image)
What kind of principles, or guidelines, do Herbert and Pencroft make use of to transport their wood?
Creepers are vines. (This annotation contains an image)
In order to drive a plot along, conflict is required. As the story moves to the rising action, new problems will arise. Watch the video below for a discussion of the types of conflicts a story may contain. (This annotation contains a video)
Like the early humans, the castaways' first step in sustaining themselves on the island begins with making fire.
Does Pencroft face an internal conflict or an external conflict in trying to light the match? Explain your answer.
Remember that Spilett is a journalist by profession. You will find him jotting down details in his journal throughout the book. Do you think this will be useful to the castaways?
What is one way "The Mysterious Island" differs from most stories of the castaway genre?
"The Mysterious Island" is one in a long line of island survival stories. The genre got its start in the early 1700s when the true story of Alexander Selkirk's adventures marooned alone on an island were published. Daniel Defoe's fictional book, "Robinson Crusoe," soon followed. The genre was still going strong in the 1800s when Johann Wyss published "The Swiss Family Robinson" about a family wrecked on an island. "The Mysterious Island" is unique in having its castaways arrive on island by means of a hot air balloon, rather than a ship. (This annotation contains an image)
Sweet water refers to fresh water, as opposed to the salt water of the ocean.
Do you think Cyrus Harding is alive? Support your answer with reasons from the text.
The fortieth and third-fifth parallels refer to latitude, a method of measuring how far north or south a place is. The center of the earth's surface (the equator) is at zero latitude and the latitudes increase in both directions. The fortieth parallel is indicated by the yellow line in the map below. The third-fifth parallel would be in a similar spot in the southern hemisphere. (This annotation contains an image)
The couroucou, pictured below, does not, in fact, have feathery feet. This detail is just one of many details of natural science in this book that are not realistic. (This annotation contains an image)
How could the relationship between Herbert and Pencroft best be characterized?
Although it is still early in the book, one of the central themes is already emerging. Watch the video below for a discussion of theme. Can you identify a one theme of this novel? (This annotation contains a video)
What theme does the storm help develop?
The Anglo-Norman dog is a hunting breed known for its superior sense of smell. The dogs are energetic and aggressive hunters, but affectionate pets. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the setting help create the tense and nerve-racking mood of this scene? Give details of the setting to support your answer. (Remember that setting includes weather!)
This chapter ends on a cliffhanger. Is Cyrus Harding dead or alive? Leaving the question unanswered helps to build suspense before the next chapter.
Here is yet another mystery. This "mysterious island" is full of them!
The word credible contains the root word "cred", which means "to believe." Although it seems that Captain Harding must have walked a mile in his exhausted state, it is nearly impossible to believe.
What aspect of Harding's character do his first words (Island or continent) reflect?
The destruction caused by the storm is an example of
What does the highlighted line reveal about the other men's perception of Cyrus Harding?
Which of the following is NOT a challenge nature has presented to the castaways?
To which character does the phrase "the latter" refer?
The "almonds" referred to here are called "pine nuts" today. (This annotation contains an image)
Capybaras are mammals that, like hippos, spend a lot of time in the water. They have partially webbed feet and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the reader meant to infer by the last line?
Pencroft has been bemoaning the impossibility of making a fire for several chapters now. What is the effect of his doubts when a fire is actually made?
The word plutonic describes rocks created beneath the earth's surface. Flint is a type of stone used to create sparks. With the proper flammable material, the sparks can then catch fire. The island's abundant rocks provide plenty of possible flints. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the main difficulty the men face in ascending the mountain?
As we read this book, we only discover details about the island as the characters do. This is due to the narrative point of view Jules Verne used. Watch the video below for an overview of point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
The other four men have great confidence in Cyrus Harding and feel fearless in his company. Do you think this confidence is justified? Should they fear anything on the island? Support your answer with examples from the text.
Pencroft's excellent eyesight is certainly a useful quality for a sailor!
What is the point of view of the highlighted sentence?
Study the image below to help you visualize the strange shape of the island. (This annotation contains an image)
Which option below best captures the meaning of the highlighted line?
How might a colonist's attitude differ from a castaway's? Give reasons for your answer.
Below is another map to help you visualize the locations the men are naming. (This annotation contains an image)
How do the castaways' political opinions influence their life on the island?
What is the point of view of the highlighted passage?
Below is a picture of a sulfur hot spring. The high sulfur content gives a smell like rotten eggs. Sulfur water has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. (This annotation contains an image)
The word "quadrupeds" means a four-legged animal. The video below gives an overview of the kangaroo, an unusual quadruped. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Pencroft seem most interested in when it comes to the wildlife of the island?
For the most part, Neb is described as an equal to the rest of the group, Jules Verne does include some racial stereotypes in his novel. He says that Neb is a good cook simply because of his race.
If the process of desiccation will take three to four days, what does desiccation most likely mean?
Kilns, which are essentially giant ovens, can be built in a variety of shapes and sizes. The image below shows kilns used to burn wood into charcoal. The men in "The Mysterious Island" are planning on using their kiln to fire clay pots so they are waterproof. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Jules Verne includes such detailed descriptions of Harding's methods of determining the latitude and longitude?
While life on the island reveals the many challenges that nature presents to human existence, it also gives the castaways the opportunity to prove that human intelligence can triumph against nature.
Why does the author include such specific scientific details and terms like "diurnal arc"?
What task will the men most likely be attempting at this point?
Historical archeologists believe that humans have been making iron for nearly 5000 years. The earliest iron artifacts date back to nearly 3000 BC. The three bracelet beads in the photo below are believed to be the oldest iron artifacts still preserved today. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice the way the characters use every opportunity to explore and increase their store of resources. Even though their main goal is to smelt iron, they stop and collect new food sources when they encounter them.
Why do the men build a hut at this point?
Watch the video below for an explanation of the smelting process similar to the one used by the men of Lincoln Island. (This annotation contains a video)
This converts to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jules Verne, a Frenchman, is writing from the point of view of someone living in the Northern Hemisphere. Both France and the United States are located north of the equator. The characters on the island, however, must adjust to life south of the equator in which the four seasons are reversed. While the U.S. and France experience spring in May, the Southern Hemisphere will experience fall in May.
Malay pirates are one of the greatest fears of the shipwrecked family in Swiss Family Robinson as well. The fear of pirate invaders adds an exciting bit of tension to the shipwrecked survivor genre. (This annotation contains an image)
How are Harding and Pencroft's characters contrasted in this exchange?
According to this book's title, the island is "mysterious." Pay attention to any events that the characters seem unable to explain.
The dugong, which resembles a manatee, has been hunted for centuries for its meat and oil. (This annotation contains an image)
Neb has been relegated to the position of cook, therefore the cooking of the dugong flesh is his responsibility.
List two unusual events that the characters have not been able to explain.
This line is intended to insert a bit of humor into the story. Can you picture Pencroft, the man always eager to start fires, make guns, and hunt animals, giving dancing lessons?
The highlighted sentence contains figurative language. "Necessity" is personified as a "master." Explain what the sentence is intended to mean literally.
Is Cyrus Harding an engineer or a chemist? He seems to know how to do everything! Do you find him a believable character?
Nitro-glycerine is a highly explosive liquid. In 1865, the time of this story, nitro-glycerine was a relatively new invention; it had been in use for less than twenty years.
How can Cyrus Harding's personality best be characterized?
The illustration below depicts the characters' descent into the underground passage, holding their torches to light the way. (This annotation contains an image)
A few pages ago, the narrator explained that Top traveled ahead of the men because they "could rely on the sagacity of the dog, who would not fail to give the alarm if there was any need for it.” How does this earlier line influence your understanding of Top's barking at this point?
The splendid Alhambre palace in Granada, Spain is filled with decorative columns and molding. (This annotation contains an image)
By comparing the cavern to majestic cathedrals, the narrator is suggesting that
Below is an image of Granite House. Do you think it fits the description given in the book? (This annotation contains an image)
Compare and contrast Harding's perspective on island life with Pencroft's.
The author, Jules Verne, certainly seems to value hard work! Pay attention to other character qualities that he seems to encourage.
Once again, Pencroft's character adds a bit of humor to the story.
List three similarities you can find between the Robinsons' tree house and Granite House.
"Swiss Family Robinson," published in 1812, is another famous story of survival on a deserted island. In this book, the Robinson family builds their first home in a tree house, rather then underground. Nevertheless, their home has some similarities to Granite House. Watch the video below to see the film depiction of the Robinsons' tree house. (This annotation contains a video)
The tone of this book varies. The narrator moves quickly from a light-hearted conversation to a scientific description of soap-making. View the video below for an overview of tone and mood. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the narrator's tone as he describes the manufacturing details of the projects that the men undertake?
Not only does Harding know everything there is to know about chemicals, geography, geology, and physics, but he also seems to be a genius when it comes to split-second mathematical calculations!
What is your prediction? Will the grain of corn grow successfully? Support your answer with reasons from the text.
Essentially, a small trickle from Lake Grant allows the underground home to enjoy running water.
This island is a regular zoo! It contains Arctic foxes as well as kangaroos, animals which generally come from very different climates. Despite all the scientific details of the text, some aspects of the island are not scientifically accurate.
How does Harding explain the unnatural mixture of geography and unscientific variety of flora and fauna on the island?
Which example below supports the theme that nature exists to supply the wants of humans?
Harding is essentially saying that the earth is building new tropical islands for humans to move to when the earth grows colder. This suggestion that nature is looking out for humanity relates to an important theme of the book: man's relationship with nature. Watch the video below for a reminder of how an author develops theme. (This annotation contains a video)
The peccary looks very similar to the wild boar. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the best paraphrase for the highlighted selection?
"Empyreumatic" means burnt. By removing the sugary scum on top of the pot, Neb prevents it from cooking too long and tasting burnt.
How do you think the presence of the bullet will affect the actions of the characters? Explain your reasons for your predictions.
The highlighted line seems to capture the spirit of the men in general. They allow nothing to get in the way of their successes. What character quality do they demonstrate through this attitude?
Notice Herbert's polite way of addressing Gideon. His respectful address is a sign of his young age. Herbert is a fifteen year old living among forty year olds. Strangely, he never seems lonely for companions his own age.
What is the effect of ending this chapter with Cyrus Harding's doubts about the turtle's escape?
Notice that the chest did not float to the island as a result of an accident. Its owner(s) seemed to intend for it to land on the island. Why might someone intend this?
At this point in the story, who do you think is winning the "man versus nature" conflict? Support your answer with specific examples from the text.
This bird is a tinamou. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the best synonym for the term flora?
What do you think Pencroft still wants? What could be missing from the island?
Gideon, rather than Pencroft, has told a joke for a change! What is humorous about Gideon's remark?
Below is a photograph of a blue crayfish. Have you ever seen one? (This annotation contains an image)
What aspect of his character does Herbert reveal in this conversation with Pencroft?
Bamboo really does crackle and pop as it burns due to the separate air chambers in the stalks heating up and exploding. In this video below you can hear the sound of bamboo burning. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the Define feature to look up the meaning of marmots. What does the author imply by the simile the men "slept like innocent marmots"?
What effect does Verne's use of the exclamation point have on the highlighted sentence?
Although the primary purpose of the tour around the island is to search for traces of human visitors, the castaways are always attentive to information and resources that can benefit them in the future.
The size of the balloon used by the men is not specified in this book, but it surely contains a considerable amount of cloth. The most common recreational type of hot air balloon in use today is built with 1,075 square yards of nylon fabric, which is equivalent to one-fifth of an acre in surface area.
How does the missing ladder influence the mood of the story?
John Bull is a character who symbolizes England, much like Uncle Sam symbolizes the United States. (This annotation contains an image)
How do you think they started a fire?
List three of the mysteries that Cyrus Harding seems unable to satisfactorily explain.
Orangutans share about 96% of their DNA with humans. This close genetic similarity means that orangutans are considered the most intelligent of the non-human primates. There are some stories of orangutans being used as servants in the past, but very little evidence exists on this subject. (This annotation contains an image)
According to the highlighted passage, what does Cyrus intend to do?
Medieval kings built moats around their castles to keep out enemies. The castaways are adding a creek to the fourth side of their home base to create a moat-like protection. With water on all four sides, they will be secure from wild animals and intruders. (This annotation contains an image)
Onagers are a little larger and more horse-like than donkeys. Onagers are wild and generally difficult to tame. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe two to three ways that the Mysterious Island video game captures the spirit of the book.
The clip below is a walkthrough of a video game based on "The Mysterious Island." Watch the first three minutes of the video and look for similarities between the game and the book. (This annotation contains a video)
Which word below is the best antonym for the word husband as it is used in the highlighted line?
The orangutan is indeed fascinatingly intelligent. Some orangutans in captivity have demonstrated an ability to understand language and read symbols. Watch the video below for an example. (This annotation contains a video)
The musmon is commonly called a mouflon today. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do the mysteries of the island seem to bother Cyrus more than the other men? Discuss two possible reasons.
The highlighted words are made up of useful Latin word roots: bi, quad, ped, and man. A biped has two feet, while a quadruped has four feet. A bimana has two hands, while a quadrumana has ____.
The "elevator" basket is powered in much the same way that old mills were powered. The water, running over the paddles of a wheel, would spin the wheel and move any gears attached to the wheel. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below to better understand the process of blowing glass. (This annotation contains a video)
The picture below shows bread made from a sago palm, a plant very similar to the cycas. (This annotation contains an image)
How long have the men been on the island at this point?
Recall that October in the southern hemisphere is equivalent to April in the northern hemisphere.
Abraham Lincoln, for whom Lincoln Island is named, once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Based on this statement, do you think Lincoln would approve of the castaway's long-term process for making bread? Why or why not?
The whale the colonists encounter is most likely a southern right whale. (This annotation contains an image)
This is presumably Martha's Vineyard, a whaling center off the coast of Massachusetts. (This annotation contains an image)
Why are Pencroft and Harding building a boat?
Do you think this exaggerated reaction is in keeping with Pencroft's character?
Mouflon (mosmun) wool is used today to make many types of clothing, like the coat below. The cloth produced by the men of Lincoln Island is somewhat coarser than the clothing sold in stores. (This annotation contains an image)
What is a likely reason that Pencroft wants to visit Tabor Island?
The albatross is known to fly across huge ranges of the globe and is an ideal bird with which to send a message. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line below best supports the idea that nature exists to provide for humanity's progress?
For all Harding's vast intelligence, it seems that the natural instincts of two animals are more effective than book learning. Top and Jup seem to know more about the mysterious well than any of the humans do. If only they could talk!
Notice that, like Herbert, Neb calls Gideon by his title "Mr. Spilett." Neb also calls Herbert "Mr. Herbert." What does this suggest about Neb?
By adding the 38th star, the castaways are essentially claiming Lincoln Island as a colony of the United States. In this sense they truly are colonists.
What is the main danger the foxes pose to the colonists?
List three instances in which Jup seems more like a human than an animal.
Verne tends to use very literal language in his book, especially since so much of the story depends upon specific, scientific facts. In some instances, however, he uses figurative language. The boat, for instance, does not literally have heels. Watch the video below for an overview of figurative language. (This annotation contains a video)
What type of figurative language does Pencroft use in describing the island?
The highlighted passage contains foreshadowing. In other words, it hints at events to come. This foreshadowing is possible because of the point of view of this passage. At this point, the narrator is
The men of Lincoln Island are not only intelligent and hardworking, but they are also kind-hearted and brave. The characters are meant to fulfill the role of heroes in this adventurous tale.
How does Verne develop a sense of suspense in the highlighted passage?
Which of the following is NOT a sign that humans have been on Tabor Island?
This castaway's possessions are very different from the possessions of the five men on Lincoln Island when they first landed. What do the possessions suggest about the Tabor Island castaway?
Do you agree with Herbert that it is okay to take the tools from the island?
How does this unfortunate man compare to Jup? Jup is described as an animal who is practically human, while this brutish man is described as a human who is practically an animal.
Explain how the group's return voyage revives the theme of man versus nature.
According to Cyrus Harding, what has destroyed the castaway's reason?
In the image below, Cyrus puts his hand on the savage's shoulder. Does the Tabor Island castaway look as you imagined him? (This annotation contains an image)
Which other recent action of Pencroft's demonstrated prudence?
The development of the soul and the brain are of great importance to the men of Lincoln Island. They have consistently emphasized hard work, honesty, prudence, and good temper. In addition, they have used the reasoning powers of the brain to turn an abandoned island into a thriving colony. They could not have survived happily without these important qualities.
Cyrus is a moral leader as well as an intellectual one. The other men trust him to restore the soul of the castaway just as they trusted him to engineer a sturdy bridge.
Why do you think weeping proves that the castaway is human again?
How did the Tabor Island castaway expiate his crimes?
Which emotions characterize the men's treatment of the Tabor Island stranger?
The castaway's hatred does not seem to be for the other men; it is for himself. He seems to feel that he does not deserve the company of other humans.
Harding's words here can be read as a form of foreshadowing. Harding has continually been so accurate with all of his predictions that the reader, like the other men, has been led to believe everything he says.
Windmills use wind to turn the wheel which spins the gears inside the mill. For a glimpse at a working windmill, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Do you think the stranger's attack on the jaguar proves that he is human or that he is a savage? Explain your reasons for your answer.
What is the cordial appellation Harding uses?
Australia was originally founded as a British prison colony. Prisoners from English jails were sent to Australia to work.
The five men of Lincoln Island are Christians and forgive and welcome Aryton in the spirit of Christian kindness. Read the well-known Christian parable "The Prodigal Son" at the link below. As you read, consider how this story from the Bible may have influenced the colonists. (This annotation contains a link)
Write two to four sentences comparing the plot, character, or themes of "The Prodigal Son" with Ayrton's story.
Which words hint that Harding does not truly believe that Ayrton threw the bottle into the sea?
A rational man, Harding does not want to make a wild guess without more information.
To what theme does Harding's exclamation relate?
By 1867, the telegraph had only been around for about thirty years. Cyrus and his friends have used their knowledge to create a very modern technological civilization. Click on the video below to get an overview of the telegraph. (This annotation contains a video)
Explain why Ayrton can be considered a dynamic character.
Sang-froid means coolness under pressure.
What is the effect of these details about Jup's reaction to photography?
The success of the Bonadventure has given the men confidence. They were at first unsure whether a journey of 150 miles to Tabor Island could be undertaken. Now, they are seriously considering a journey of over 1,200 miles!
What plan do the men make in hopes of getting off the island?
Mares-tails refer to a formation of cirrus clouds which generally indicates that precipitation is coming. (This annotation contains an image)
Like many a sailor, Pencroft personifies his ship and treats it like a loved one.
Harding is clearly lying when he says that the fire was his lucky idea. Why do you think he does not want the rest of the men to suspect that there is something strange happening on the island?
Then Bonadventure has entered Shark Gulf. Refer to the map for a reminder of its location. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the men discover about Shark Gulf?
Finally Cyrus and Gideon will share their concerns with the others!
What explanation can you give for all of the unexplained events? Give reasons for your answer.
Neb and Pencroft are made very uneasy by the unexplainable incidents Harding lists. Perhaps Harding kept his fears to himself for so long in order to prevent the others from worrying like this.
The vessel could change the whole course of the colonists' lives and the status of the colony itself. Such a pivotal incident could be driving us closer to the climax of the book.
How do the colonists seem to feel about the potential arrival of a rescue ship?
1874, the date "The Mysterious Island" was published, was during a worldwide period of colonization. Countries like England, France, and the United States hurried to claim land around the globe.
A brig is shown below. (This annotation contains an image)
The castaways' reaction to the ship is rather unusual. Generally, castaways are overjoyed at the prospect of rescue. The men's attitude is a sign of the great success of their island civilization.
Jules Verne dedicated nearly ten pages to the characters' peering through a spy glass, waiting for the ship to come closer. What is the effect of this drawn-out waiting scene?
List three details to explain how the setting helps create an eerie and unsettled mood.
Use context clues to determine the emotion that Ayrton is expressing when he says "Alas!"
Do you remember the meaning of this expression from its use earlier in the book? A boat that "shows a clean pair of heels," is a boat that travels fast.
How would you describe Ayrton's character? Support your answer with specific references to the text.
By pointing upwards, Cyrus suggests that he is referring to God. Could he be referring to someone else, however? Someone who plays a god-like role in their lives?
To be "on the qui vive" means to be on the lookout.
How did Aryton's daring attempt to blow up th pirate ship backfire on the colonists?
The brig is preparing to aim its cannons at the Chimneys.
What do the men see when they look out the windows?
What are the two reasons Pencroft does not believe the ship foundered on a rock?
The word "submarine" is used in its literal meaning here, meaning "underwater." The root "sub" means "below" and "marine" means "sea."
According to the colonists, how did the brig sink?
These guns refer to the ship's cannons.
This mysterious stranger must be able to travel the waters easily if he is aware of the situation on both Lincoln Island and Tabor Island.
What is the meaning of the highlighted line?
How does Pencroft envision the mysterious benefactor?
If Pencroft is able to pity Ayrton, should he also be able to pity the six pirates on the island?
The decision of how to treat the six escaped pirates is similar to the decision President Lincoln had to make at the close of the Civil War. How would the South be treated after losing the war? Click the link below and read the last paragraph of Lincoln's second inaugural address. (This annotation contains a link)
Explain whether Lincoln's approach to his enemies is more like Harding's or Pencroft's approach.
To what does Pencroft compare the pirates in the highlighted passage?
This point is interesting. If their mysterious benefactor is an honest man, why is he afraid to show himself?
If you are interested in nautical knots, here is a small diagram of a few types of knots. (This annotation contains an image)
Wow! We finally learn Pencroft's first name! It turns out that their ship is named after him.
The tension mounts as the colonists hurry to discover what has happened to Ayrton. Which sentence below does NOT contribute to the suspenseful tone of the search?
How does Pencroft's reaction to Herbert's injury differ from Harding and Spilett's? Are their different reactions in keeping with their personalities? Explain.
He wants to leave the wounds slightly open so that the pus will be able to drain out of the body without infecting it.
In their anxiety about Herbert, what are the men forgetting?
Harding and his friends are heroes not only because of their success in invention, but also because of their moral virtues. Do you think their decision not to hunt the pirates right away makes them more heroic or less heroic? Explain.
Which phrase below personifies Top?
Until now, the men's common sense and scientific invention seemed to solve all their problems. Now, suddenly, they are finding the limits of science. Perhaps the human intellect is not as powerful as they imagined.
How has life on the island changed?
Pencroft was right to distrust the six pirates. Do you think he might also be right to suspect that Ayrton has joined up with these pirates? Support your answer with reference to Ayrton's character and personality.
What advantage would Ayrton give the pirates if he joined their side?
If carried in a litter like the one depicted below, Herbert would not be subjected to the bumps of the road which might reopen his wounds. Putting him in the cart would make his voyage less comfortable, but would allow all of his protectors to carry guns. (This annotation contains an image)
Here is an illustration from a French publication of "The Mysterious Island." (This annotation contains an image)
How well does the picture above capture the fear and concern of the men during Herbert's illness? Give reasons to support your opinion.
If Neb had not warned them, the farmyard would still have been destroyed, but Herbert would still be safely recovering in the corral, rather than in danger of dying once again.
What is the purpose of the febrifuge?
Read about the literary term "deus ex machina" on the website below. (This annotation contains a link)
Choose the answer that gives the best definition of the term deus ex machina.
Explain why the sulfate of quinine can be considered a deus ex machina.
Once again, this map might come in handy. (This annotation contains an image)
An emu is a flightless bird. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the symbolism behind Pencroft loading his gun with the bullet that hit Herbert?
Recall that the island was made of a volcanic substance. Although the men found the volcano inactive when they climbed Mt. Franklin, the dormant volcano still seems to have a warming influence on the soil of the Serpentine Peninsula.
What is your prediction for where the mysterious stranger is hiding?
Which details help to increase the nervous tension of the scene?
A palisade is a wooden fence made of tall vertical posts. (This annotation contains an image)
Chiaroscuro is a literary device that displays the juxtaposition of light and darkness. This nighttime episode in the corral contains clear chiaroscuro. Explain how the chiaroscuro affects the scene.
Why does the mysterious benefactor irritate Harding?
The benefactor really does play a god-like role. Not only does he protect and provide for the colonists, but he also plays the role of judge. He judged that Ayrton had repented and therefore prompted the colonists to save his life. On the other hand, he judged the five pirates unworthy and therefore executed them.
What does the "revivification of subterranean fires" imply?
Are the colonists really in danger of an earthquake and a volcanic eruption? Could the island, which once seemed so perfect, turn so threatening?
Pencroft's confidence seems to have shifted from Harding to the mysterious benefactor.
What are the colonists' hopes for the future?
Which description best describes life on Lincoln Island at this point?
The weather on Lincoln Island reaches unusual extremes of hot and cold. The men seek to explain this scientifically.
Contrary to Harding's earlier faith in man's scientific knowledge, what new theme does Harding's comment support?
In which line below does the narrator include a bit of humor?
Orangutans have been known to form strong bonds with domestic dogs. (This annotation contains an image)
What do these vapors foreshadow?
Popocatepetl is still an active volcano. The video below is from 2014. (This annotation contains a video)
What causes Pencroft and the others to grow so fond of Lincoln Island?
The narrator, breaking away from the character for a minute, makes a generalization about human behavior. He is implying that the colonists are driven to civilize the island in order to leave their mark on this earth. Do you agree that human beings like to leave their mark?
The existence of this long wire stretching across the island indicates that
Below is one image of Mammoth Caverns. Perhaps the cavern on Lincoln Island resembles this image. (This annotation contains an image)
The overwhelming presence of light in the cavern is symbolic. What could be the symbolic meaning behind the bright light surrounding the benefactor's location?
What surprise concludes this chapter?
Do you think the clip succeeds in capturing the mystery and suspense of the book? Give reasons for your answer.
Watch the video below from 5:55 to 9:02. The clip shows a 1975 cartoon version of the colonists' meeting with Captain Nemo. (This annotation contains a video)
"Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" is a novel written by Jules Verne which was published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his adventures under the sea in his scientifically advanced submarine, the Nautilus. Nemo, bitter toward humanity, exiles himself from mankind by roaming beneath the sea. Near the end of the book, he uses the Nautilus to ram into a ship and intentionally sink it in front of several witnesses. (This annotation contains an image)
Remember the castaways' desire to make Lincoln Island an American colony? During the 1800s, most of the world's powerful nations tried to colonize as much land as possible, thus claiming its resources for themselves. Great Britain claimed India as its colony. Following an uprising in 1857, Britain clamped down on India and took official control of its government.
The image shows an old-fashioned diving suit complete with an air tube allowing the wearer to breathe underwater. (This annotation contains an image)
This image of the grand salon of the Nautilus is an illustration from "20,000 Leagues under the Sea." (This annotation contains an image)
This translates roughly to "moving amidst mobility." How might this capture Captain Nemo's life on the Nautilis? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Captain Nemo encourage the men to return to the United States?
What is the effect of the narrator's decision not to reveal Harding's private conversation with Nemo?
Click on the link below to read a short slide show on the history of submarines. Pay particular attention to the year in which the first electric submarine was invented. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the history of submarines, how does the setting of this book influence the portrayal of Captain Nemo's character?
Volcanic eruptions are extremely dangerous, but they do have important benefits for the earth. Watch the video below to find out more. (This annotation contains a video)
"Rinforzando" is a musical term which describes a note played with a sudden increase in force.
Much of the colonists' time on the island has been a battle to control and tame nature and to bring order to chaos. What role does control play in their current situation?
Pencroft makes use of _____ to joke about the volcano.
Volcanic ash can have a profound effect on climate. Eruptions are accompanied by rain, lightning, and thunder due to the ash particles that enter the atmosphere. Depending on the size of the ash particles, ash can have a warming greenhouse effect or a cooling effect for months after an eruption. The whole globe is to be concerned because wind currents can blow volcanic ash miles from the source.
What did Nemo foresee? Does this refer to the private conversation he had with Harding before his death?
What will be the likely effect of a volcanic eruption on Dakar Grotto?
The eruption of the volcano will alter the course of the characters' lives. They are nearing a turning point in their history on the island. What part of the plot have we reached?
As Cyrus Harding has explained, the combination of water and hot lava can be explosive. This explosive effect is captured in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
What personality trait does Neb's question reveal in him and Pencroft?
The ship was destroyed! What hope is left to the poor castaways?
Watch the ending of the book as captured in the 1975 cartoon adaptation. (This annotation contains a video)
Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the cartoon as it compares to the book. Consider the plot events, the depiction of the characters, and the moods that the scenes create.