Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
Around the World in Eighty Days is, as the title suggests, the story of a journey around the world. The focus throughout is on the remarkable journey by Phileas Fogg and his companions. The places visited, the people encountered, the customs and cultures noted, the scenery observed—these make up the fabric of this work.
The situation at the beginning is twofold: For Fogg’s newly hired valet, it is an opportunity to work for a man who leads a steady, stable life. Passepartout believes that his new master never goes anywhere except to the Reform Club. Fogg does seem to have an extremely routine existence (even the number of steps from his dwelling to the club is known). He frequents the club, reading The Times and playing whisk with his acquaintances: “His daily habits were quite open to observation; but whatever he did was so exactly the same thing that he had always done before, that the wits of the curious were fairly puzzled.”
This routine is altered drastically when a news item about a bank robber leads Fogg to propose a wager that he can circle the earth in eighty days. He establishes with his whist partners a wager of twenty thousand pounds, and he announces that he will depart that very evening. Passepartout’s expectations of tranquillity are shattered as he is set to work making preparations. The only luggage is a large carpetbag, into which are placed a few articles of clothing and toiletries, as well as a large sum of money in the form of negotiable bank notes. The journey begins with the two boarding the Dover-to-Calais train on Wednesday, October 2, 1872, at 8:45 p.m., exactly one and three-quarters hours after making the bet.
In addition to Fogg and Passepartout, the protagonists, there are two antagonists. Fix, an English private detective, jumps to the false conclusion that Fogg is the bank robber. In Suez, his expectations are twofold: the arrival of Fogg on board the steamer Mongolia, en route from Brindisi to Bombay, and receipt of a warrant for Fogg’s arrest. When the latter does not come, he joins Fogg and Passepartout as a traveling companion. At Bombay, he takes note of Passepartout’s offense against a temple.
(The entire section is 920 words.)
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