Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days": Plot Summary and Review

Illustration from
"Around the World in Eighty Days"
Jules Verne’s "Around the World in Eighty Days" is somewhat of a break from his characteristic style. Unlike "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," there is nothing science fiction about it. "Around the World in Eighty Days" may be one of the only books in which Jules Verne does not predict or describe some future technology. However, the adventures and obstacles seen by the main characters are very typical of Verne’s work.

"Around the World in Eighty Days" begins with a thorough description of the novel’s main character–Phileas Fogg. Fogg is described as being unusually preoccupied with timeliness. He plans every bit of every day and has, thus far, never deviated from this schedule as far as anyone can tell. At the point where we meet Fogg he is in need of a new servant; his last one made the grave mistake of bringing him shaving water that was eighty-four degrees rather than the specified eighty-six. At this point the reader does not know what to make of Fogg. He is a rather eccentric and punctual man. However, we see no evidence that he is anything but good.

Fogg’s new servant, Jean Passepartout, arrives at his home at precisely twenty-two minutes after eleven on the first day of the story. Jean is quite pleased with his master and his new station, because he wishes to settle down and he has heard that Fogg rarely, if ever, travels. Fogg tells Passepartout to settle in and then sets out for his gentleman’s club at the same exact time that he does this every day.

Passepartout has begun settling in when Fogg, breaking his careful schedule, arrives home hours before he is expected. Fogg informs Passepartout that they will be going on a trip around the wold and that they are to be leaving immediately. Fogg has bet his friends at the club a great deal of money that he can make the journey in eighty days. Passepartout is flabbergasted, but he follows his master’s lead.

At the outset of their adventure, everything goes according to plan. Then, unbeknownst to the pair, Fogg is mistaken for a bank robber. The man who has mistaken him is a policeman named Fix. Fix believes that Fogg is covering his escape with a fictional journey. Fix resolves to arrest him, but he has no warrant and is forced to follow them. The policeman manages to cause them many holdups throughout the novel, for which he is attacked once by Passepartout and punched once by Fogg.

While the pair is in India the train they are riding on runs out of tracks and they are forced to purchase an elephant and hire a guide. While riding across India, they learn of a woman who is about to be sacrificed at her husband’s funeral. At this point it becomes obvious that Fogg is a good man despite his eccentricities, because he decides that they should rescue the girl. Through a trick of Passepartout’s they are able to save her and the young woman, Aouda, joins them on their adventure.

From here on the journey takes a number of unexpected turns, Fogg is arrested twice, once with Passepartout, they are attacked by native Americans, Passepartout joins the circus (kind of) and Fix arrests Fogg. In the end, the real thief is caught and Fix, who isn’t so bad, is forced to apologize.

After the arrest, Fogg believes all is lost because he has been kept past his projected time of arrival. He is depressed about this when Aouda approaches him and tells him she is in love with him and that she wants him to marry her. He agrees and sends Passepartout to get a priest so that they may marry the following day, Sunday. Passepartout returns with the news that tomorrow is in fact Saturday and that they are still in time. This was made possible because they gained a day in traveling the globe to the east.

All in all, "Around the World in Eighty Days" is a very good read. It’s a very exciting and adventurous book that is very fast paced. "Around the World in Eighty Days" is not difficult to read, Verne gives just enough description and keeps the plot moving continuously. 

Shelly Barclay

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