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Thread: TMI Religious?

  1. #1
    Registered User sHaRp12's Avatar
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    TMI Religious?

    When I was reading this book I came across something Jules Verne wrote that struck as odd. pg.490

    "All their science and intelligence could avail them nothing in their present position. They were in the hand of God."

    Did Verne want to give this novel a religious theme?
    Last edited by sHaRp12; 06-08-2006 at 07:25 PM.

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    Religion in TMI

    I am not sure why it would take you until page 490 to discover that the inhabitants of the Mysterious Island are devout Christians. I haven't done a complete search, but here are a few of the occasions where the faith of the colonists is revealed. Page 28: (Pencroft): "In our misfortune we must thank Providence for it." "God be praised!" responded Herbert, whose pious heart was full of gratitude to the Author of all things." Page 80: (Cyrus): "Here, my friends, is the small corner of land upon which the hand of the Almighty has thrown us." Page 97: "The next day being Sunday, and also Easter Sunday, all agreed to sanctify the day by rest. These Americans were religious men, scrupulous observers of the precepts of the Bible, and their situation could not but develop sentiments of confidence toward the Author of all things." Page 184: one of the items in the chest which they found was a Bible--their benefactor found it worthwhile to include this in his gifts.

    And my favorite place where the Almighty is thanked: Page 249, where Pencroft gets his tobacco: "Oh, Divine Providence! Sacred Author of all things! Nothing more is now wanting on our island."

    It is clear that the colonists are faithful Christians, although they, along with their author Jules Verne, feel that they can't use God as a crutch--someone to blame when things go wrong, someone to attribute every mystery to, someone who will do all of their work for them. They work hard, and praise God for blessing them. They look for scientific, logical answers to their mysteries, realizing that God is a logical and orderly Being who often chooses to work miracles through natural means. I think that Verne believed God, as Designer of the universe, set in motion an orderly system of natural laws, which He does not often choose to go against. Therefore, one can't say that everything that can't be explained is supernatural. I think it is very interesting to see how Verne's theology came through in a book which is extremely scientific. It shows that not every scientist is an atheist--there are many examples throughout history of scientists who had a strong faith in God.

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    Registered User P. M. Townsend's Avatar
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    Cool Verne's Thematic Intent

    It is close to a year since you posted the question, sHaRp12, but I offer my POV if you are still around. By the way, I was very impressed with the answer that was posted by Julie Harris. While she is accurate in her analysis, I was prompted to respond as the result of an aspect of Verne's thematic style that was not included and may assist your understanding.

    Verne is not so much creating a religious theme as he is building a contrast between the characters experiential background and their current situation. Verne consistently uses contrast and conflict as thematic tools to highlight his characters fears, insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses as they journey through unfamiliar situational and interrelational landscapes.


    As Julie Harris pointed out, his personal background was perfectly suited for this task. However, he utilizes religion because their survival depends not only on their own abilities to work together, but also on the mercy and grace of their deity. Overcoming the limiting influence of their past and present circumstances is one of the challenges that they face. It is for that purpose that he frequently expresses faith in terms of contrasting ideation.

    I hope you can see the difference between a religious theme and the internal and external conflict that Verne uses to underscore mankind's dual nature of overcoming adversity in unfamiliar circumstances while simultaneously desiring to maintain the comfort of the familiar. From that vantage point, religion is only one of the factors he uses to create a complex thematic interaction.
    Last edited by P. M. Townsend; 02-01-2007 at 01:08 AM.

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