Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Phileas Fogg (FIHL-ee-uhs), an English gentleman living in London. A tall, well-built man about forty years old, with light brown hair and a beard, he lives a quiet life of great regularity. Being independently wealthy, he spends most of his day at the Reform Club reading, taking his meals, and playing whist. Apparently having lived a life of travel and adventure some years earlier, he is a man of honor and integrity. Challenged by his whist partners to prove his contention that it is possible to travel around the world in eighty days, he agrees to make the trip in that amount of time and wagers twenty thousand pounds, his entire fortune. Along the way, he delays his journey to rescue Princess Aouda from death and later falls in love with her. Encountering numerous other delays and adversities in completing the trip, he remains imperturbable and loyal to his traveling companions, even when faced at the end with the loss of his remaining fortune.
Jean Passepartout (zhahn pas-par-tew), Fogg’s French manservant. A middle-aged man of pleasant and honest appearance, with brown hair and blue eyes, he possesses a portly but muscular build. Prior to serving Fogg, he led a life of travel and uncertainty; as a result, the steady and methodical lifestyle of his new master appealed to him. It is a shock to him when it is announced that they will be traveling around...
(The entire section is 718 words.)
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The Characters (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout are the most fully delineated characters in this work. Others are one-or two-dimensional, existing primarily to advance the plot.
Fogg is a combination of types. Larger then life, he is like Odysseus, a man who is never at a loss and never perturbed. When hardships or surprises delay his voyage, he remains calm and finds another way of accomplishing his purpose. Like Odysseus he deliberately delays long enough to rescue his traveling companions. Fogg is also, like Don Quixote, embarked on a perilous quest of questionable value, but he is an inverted Quixote; unlike Miguel de Cervantes’ madman, he is completely rational, even machinelike, in his adherence to rote and in his total dependence on rational thought. He is a man of the Enlightenment, given over to reason, restraint, and decorum. Passepartout describes him as “repose in action” and “as exactly regulated as a Leroy chronometer,” yet Fogg is also impulsive: He generously gives the elephant to his guide, the whist earnings to the poor, and profit from the wager to his companions, even to Fix, who has done everything possible to prevent the completion of the journey.
Passepartout is also larger than life, though contrasting with Fogg. In many ways, Passepartout (whose name means “goes everywhere”) plays Sancho Panza to Fogg’s Quixote. He is impetuous and vulnerable. He, too, is courageous, but in a more flamboyant manner: He climbs under...
(The entire section is 518 words.)
Phileas Fogg, the Englishman who bets a fortune just to prove that he can circle the globe in record time, is one of Verne's best creations. He is almost a caricature of what the French think of their English neighbors. He is an English gentleman. In the opening chapter, Verne perversely tells us what Fogg is not, and the reader does not get to meet him until the second chapter. Then we hear that
Phileas Fogg was one of those mathematically precise beings who, never in a hurry and always ready, are economical in their steps and movements. He never made an unnecessary step, always went by the shortest way. He made no superfluous gesture, and was never seen to be moved or agitated. He was the most deliberate person in the world yet always reached his destination at the exact moment.
What saves this character from becoming a cliche is that he remains a sympathetic person. He gives to charity, he does not hesitate to save Passepartout from the Indians even though it may cost him his bet, and he rescues Aouda, the Indian girl, without thought to his own safety. When Sir Francis Cromarty compliments him for his kindness, he answers: "I am occasionally when I have the time"—a modest understatement considering he makes the time when kindness is called for. He is also a good sport who stoically accepts the apparent loss of his bet: "No emotion was visible on his face. Fogg returned was exactly the Fogg who had gone...
(The entire section is 745 words.)