Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne: Summary & Characters

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  • 0:01 Major Characters
  • 1:07 Plot Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne tells of an amazing journey because of a really big bet. Ruthless Phileas Fogg lies, cheats, and does whatever he has to do to prove he can get around the world in 80 days.

Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days was published in 1873, and is one of Jules Verne's most celebrated novels. The story follows two travelers that grow to a trio and then a foursome as they fight their way through countless obstacles to reach home in time. This lesson will focus on the characters and plot summary of Around the World in Eighty Days.

Illustration showing Jules Verne
Jules Verne

Major Characters

Let's cover the major characters of this novel.

Phileas Fogg is a ruthless perfectionist who cares more about the bet than the exotic places he sees on his travels. He will do anything, even lie and cheat, to get what he wants.

Jean Passepartout is Fogg's French butler. He is an honest, charming man who truly cares about Fogg, but he keeps ending up in situations that delay their travel.

Detective Fix works for Scotland Yard, and is on the trail of a bank robber. In his own way, Fix is as ruthless as Fogg.

Aouda is an Indian Princess. She is trapped by her situation in India, and jumps at the chance to accompany Fogg and Passepartout when they save her from an early death.

Plot Summary

Now let's discuss the plot of Around the World in 80 Days.

Phileas Fogg is a perfectionist. One of the first things we learn about him is that he dismissed his butler for bringing him water that was two degrees too cold. Fogg is a member of the exclusive Reform Club. So, when Fogg says someone can make it around the world in 80 days, we should probably listen.

His club doesn't listen, though, so Fogg takes a bet for £20,000 (about £1.6 million today, or 2.5 million dollars US) that he can do it. So, with his new valet, Passepartout, he leaves London on October 2, 1872. He vows to return by December 21.

An advertisement for a stage adaptation
An advertisement for a stage adaptation

Fogg and Passepartout take the train to Suez, Egypt. Unbeknownst to them, Detective Fix of Scotland Yard follows. He's searching for a bank robber, and Fogg matches the description. Fix plans to bring Fogg in for the crime.

Passepartout and Fogg hop on a steamship heading for Bombay; Fix boards soon after. Fogg offers the engineer a reward if the boat gets to Bombay early, and Fix chats up Passepartout, trying to scope out Fogg. The boat docks two days early. Fogg and Passepartout get on a train, but find out the railroad line ends at Kholby, 50 miles short of Calcutta.

Fogg does what any sensible man would when $2.5 million is at stake. He buys an elephant and heads toward Allahabad to get back on the train. On the way there, he sees a widow, Aouda, who is going to be buried (alive) with her dead husband. To rescue her, Passepartout pretends to be her resurrected husband, and the priests scatter. Aouda accompanies them to the station, where they finally get a train to Calcutta.

The three then try to board a ship heading to Hong Kong. They are arrested, but post bail and continue their trip. Fix follows them to Hong Kong, where the trio finds out that Aouda's relative, with whom she was planning to stay, has moved. So, she continues on with Fogg and Passepartout.

Fix tells Passepartout that Fogg is a criminal, but Passepartout doesn't believe him. Fix then drugs Passepartout in an opium den so Passepartout, Fogg, and Aouda will miss their boat, but Passepartout manages to make the ship to Yokohama.

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