collage of bones, insects, a volcano, a dinosaur, and a skull

Journey to the Center of the Earth

by Jules Verne
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Which three people go on a secret expedition to the center of the earth?

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The first character is Professor Lidenbrock. He is a professor of geology and mineralogy in Hamburg, Germany. He is incredibly hardworking and quite an optimistic character. These two traits are what help him to continually work toward his goal of reaching the center of Earth. Lidenbrock, while optimistic about outcomes, is also quite stubborn. His successes are a combination of talent and sheer determination. Additionally, his intelligence and passion have helped him become so famous that people come from around the world to attend his lectures.

Axel is the story's protagonist, and he serves as a foil character to his Uncle Lidenbrock. Axel is a much more reasonable kind of man. He's intelligent and extremely knowledgeable about geology, and he is a capable assistant to Lidenbrock; however, Axel is much more pessimistic about the expedition's chances of success.

The final character making the journey is Hans. He is a rock-solid type of character. He functions as the expedition's guide and has very practical, handyman type knowledge. He's quite a stoic character. He doesn't speak often, and he rarely complains. He is pivotal to the survival of the group because he saves everybody's lives on more than one occasion.

This was the last overnight stop of our overland journey. Hans had brought us here with intelligence, and I drew some reassurance from the thought that he was to accompany us further.

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Two of the three main characters of Journey to the Center of the Earth have different names, depending on the edition. In the original version there are Professor Otto Lidenbrock, Alex (his nephew), and Hans. In the 1871 English version, the names are changed to Professor Hardwigg and Harry Lawson. Hans is the same in both editions.

Professor Lidenbrock is a middle-aged professor in Hamburg, Germany. He is intelligent, short-tempered, and focused to the point of obsession. He gives little thought to the opinion (or well-being) of others on the expedition to the center of the earth. He refuses to give up.

His nephew, Alex, is a young adult living with his uncle Lidenbrock. He also is a student of geology and functions as his uncle’s assistant. He is more reasonable than his uncle, but he can be seen as cowardly in that he often tries to find a way out of what his uncle wants him to do. He changes partway into the expedition, once he sees that his uncle’s beliefs about the construction of the earth might be valid after all.

Hans is their servant, hired in Iceland. He does not speak German, so he communicates very little, and then only with Professor Lidenbrock. He is calm, strong, and incapable of being sidetracked. He does whatever the Professor asks of him and becomes a valuable member of the team.

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