Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days is a travel adventure story, but it has elements of multiple genres. Although the novel is not as futuristic as some of Verne’s other works, the emphasis the author places on technology and its potential to improve humanity is typical of science fiction. Machines make Phileas Fogg’s journey possible. One example is the tram that jumps over a damaged bridge by traveling at a high speed.
Phileas Fogg and his companions face a series of hardships and must overcome many challenges to return home. Therefore, the story bears resemblance to Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. While Odysseus battles gods and supernatural creatures, Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, battle Time itself and encounter a series of natural and human-made obstacles.
Unlike traditional odysseys, however, the journey in question is a whim. Fogg randomly makes a wager and embarks on the spur of the moment. Although he does make the journey in eighty days and wins the bet, the trip is so costly that he barely breaks even. Fogg’s feat does nothing to improve the world at large, and Passepartout suffers terribly for his service.
Fix’s quest to bring Fogg to justice is equally futile. Mistaking Fogg for a bank robber, the detective pursues him across the globe. He succeeds in arresting Fogg only to discover that the real bank robber has already been apprehended. Their quest is quixotic in nature; in fact, Fogg and Passepartout are much like Don Quixote and his servant, Sancho Panza.
The novel is also a romance. While traveling through India, Fogg rescues Aouda, a widow who is about to be burned on her husband’s funeral pyre. She accompanies him on the rest of his adventures, and the couple later marries. Aouda is essentially the only character who comes out of the journey better off than when she began. Although Fogg makes no profit, he does find true love.