abstract illustration of two people journeying around the world on trains, boats, and hot air balloons

Around the World in Eighty Days

by Jules Verne

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Characters Discussed

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Phileas Fogg

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

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 world out of a carpetbag. During the course of the journey, he shows himself to be brave and resourceful. His impersonation of the dead rajah makes the rescue of Aouda possible. His actions also sometimes cause delays for his master, such as when he is arrested for violating the sanctity of a Hindu temple and when he is captured by the Sioux after he saves a train. Through all these challenges, a relationship of mutual respect and affection develops between him and Fogg.

Fix

Fix, a detective. Small, slightly built, and nervous, he is a man of some intelligence. Coming across Fogg at Suez, he decides that Fogg matches the description of the man who recently robbed the Bank of England of fifty-five thousand pounds. He follows Fogg’s party to India and then to Hong Kong, seeking to throw various obstacles in their way until arrest warrants arrive. After leaving English territory, he begins to aid the travelers in their passage to England. On arrival at Liverpool, he promptly and mistakenly arrests Fogg, causing a delay that makes it seem that the wager has been lost.

Aouda

Aouda (ow-ew-duh), the widow of an Indian rajah. This dark-haired, light-complected young Parsee beauty received a thorough English education that rendered her more European than Indian. After her rescue from the suttee, Fogg plans to drop her off with a relative in Hong Kong. Arriving there, it is discovered that her relative had moved to The Netherlands. As a result, she continues to accompany Fogg on his journey, and the two fall in love. When they arrive in London and it appears that Fogg has lost his wager, Aouda proposes marriage. That suggestion reveals the twenty-four-hour miscalculation resulting from crossing the international date line and allows Fogg to win his bet by appearing at the Reform Club in the nick of time.

Sir Francis Cromarty

Sir Francis Cromarty, a British army officer. A tall, fair man of fifty, he is traveling to Benares to join his troops. After becoming acquainted with Fogg through playing whist during the train ride across India, he joins Fogg and Passepartout on the elephant ride and...

(This entire section contains 718 words.)

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assists in the rescue of Aouda.

Colonel Stamp Proctor

Colonel Stamp Proctor, a large, red-bearded American who almost comes to blows with Fogg during a political rally in San Francisco, California. Later, they meet on a train and are about to duel when the Sioux attack, and Proctor is severely wounded.

Captain Andrew Speedy

Captain Andrew Speedy, the English captain of the Henrietta, an irascible man of fifty with red hair and a growling voice. Fogg is forced to buy passage to Bordeaux on his vessel for an exorbitant price. Once aboard, he bribes the crew to lock up Speedy and sail to Liverpool. He later buys the Henrietta from Speedy and burns its wooden superstructure for fuel.

The Characters

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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 moving trains, goes into a sacred shrine to rescue a woman, claims the right to a duel even though Proctor would surely kill him. Completely faithful to his master, he often uses poor judgment, thoughtlessly wearing shoes in a temple or confiding in his master’s adversary. He is gullible, allowing Fix to get him intoxicated when his master’s success depends on his delivering the news of the ship’s early departure. Like Fogg, he is an overblown, stock character: here, the talkative servant and the acrobatic clown.

Fix, the villain in the melodrama, is yet another stock character. A man of singleness of purpose, he doggedly stays with his prey. Unintellectual and obstinate, he tenaciously holds on to his false belief. After becoming indebted to Fogg and learning to admire him, Fix nevertheless brings about his arrest. Of questionable intelligence and discernment, with a penchant for being wrong, he manages to be simultaneously dangerous and ludicrous.

Aouda is the least fully delineated of the cast of character-types, existing primarily to advance the plot, even though she is given a prominent place in its action. She is passive, a damsel in distress, admirable yet dependent. A familiar stock character, she provides the love element in the novel, though its presentation is subdued and limited in treatment.

All four are static rather than developing characters. At the end, Fogg and Aouda are largely unchanged. Passepartout may be wiser and humbler for his experiences, though the change is not emphasized. Only Fix seems to have undergone any change, having learned that he has hounded and arrested the wrong man. Still, there is no indication that his change is of any real significance.

Characters

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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 away; there was the same calm, the same impassibility." Traveling around the world and seeing all sort of marvels have had no effect on him. He is the same precise, unruffled gentleman of the beginning. Yet he is by no means a static character unresponsive to changing conditions. His quick wit and logical mind help him overcome seemingly impossible problems. When the steamship Henrietta turns out to be too slow to accomplish the return journey in time, it is Fogg who suggests that all the wooden parts of the ship be used to make the fire hotter and thereby create more energy to increase the speed of the vessel. He is resourceful and practical; yet in spite of these characteristics, his author has a joke up his sleeve. Just when we consider the cool Englishman as completely emotionless, he surprises us by a sudden streak of romanticism. After all, what can be more romantic than rescuing a damsel in distress, and eventually marrying her? And that is precisely what Fogg does, to the surprise of everyone around him.

Passepartout is as different as possible from his master. The Frenchman, whose name means "all purpose" and is also a term for a skeleton key that opens every door, has had many callings. He has been street musician, fireman, and acrobat; he enjoys life and is interested in the world around him. While it is possible for Fogg to pass unimpressed by the wonders of Benares, Passepartout considers India a fascinating place, and decides that traveling is certainly not useless if you want to see new things. A true Parisian, he is voluble, talkative, emotional, and lively. Round and almost portly, he is a sort of Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's sidekick, to his tall, angular master. Pairing these two unlike traveling companions allows each to act as a foil for the other, revealing characteristics through contrast.

Mrs. Aouda, the young Indian woman whom Phileas rescues from becoming a human sacrifice, is, like most of Verne's female characters, rather colorless. For the most part, she is simply present— allowing Fogg to face another obstacle and have another adventure. At the end, when Aouda proposes marriage to Fogg, he finally really looks at her, and even utters the emotional words "I love you," and the author concludes his novel: "strange to say, she made him the happiest of men."

The remaining characters are a colorful cast of quickly sketched types that are part of the stage machinery but do not develop into full-fledged human beings. The most prominent is the detective Fix who always misses his quarry, but in the end shows some human emotions and even assists Fogg. He is used to increase the sense of urgency of the story and to add to the humor. Detective Fix, sure that Fogg is a wanted bank robber, follows him, and always barely misses catching up, while Fogg, unawares, pays no attention to his pursuer.

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