Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Phileas Fogg's character develop over the course of the novel?

    As the novel begins, Phileas Fogg is characterized as a refined, unemotional man who sticks to his routine. He keeps to himself and has never developed strong bond with anyone. His journey around the world in eighty days shakes up his typical routine, and as the days go on his emotional wall breaks down and he becomes close to both Aouda and Passepartout. By the novel's end, he has realized the importance of human connections. This is cemented when he marries Aouda and declares that she is the best thing to come of the journey.

  2. 2

    What kind of statement does this novel make about the ways in which modern technology has changed travel?

    Because of new advancements in transportation, Fogg and his group are able to make it around the world in just eighty days. Without these, an incredible journey like this would not at all be possible. As Passepartout remarks multiple times, though, the speed at which they travel means that they are not able to stop, take in, and appreciate the places they pass. This contradiction shows readers that technology is a double-edged sword. Of course, it makes many marvelous things possible—however, it is important, still, to take the time to appreciate the educational and transformative aspects of travel in the midst of a fast-paced journey.

  3. 3

    How does Verne portray native peoples in this novel? What does this say about society at the time in which this book was published?

    First in India and then in America, Fogg and his party encounter groups of natives that delay their travel. Verne repeatedly characterizes them using language typically reserved for animals. They are distanced from the traveling group of Europeans in every way possible. Since this novel was written when much of the world was colonized and native people were subdued, it makes sense that Verne, a European, would portray them as uncivilized and barbaric. Problematic characterization like this can teach an important history lesson.

  4. 4

    How do the novel's tone and mood accentuate the nature of Fogg's task?

    This novel moves at a very fast pace, with an urgent mood that keeps readers turning the page. This tone and mood passes the characters' own urgency along to readers, so that they become as invested in Fogg's wager as Fogg himself is. It means that readers will move quickly through this book, just like Fogg moves quickly in his journey across the world. The novel's tone sets the stakes high, suitable for a wager as large as this one.

  5. 5

    How is Passepartout's character important to the overall story?

    Since he is only a servant, Passepartout is often misunderstood or underestimated by those around him. In reality, though, he plays a huge role in the success of their journey across the world. It is Passepartout who comes up with a plan to save Aouda, Passepartout who manages to stop the train at the military fort as the Sioux are attacking. More than this, though, Passepartout is a warm, loyal figure that shows Fogg the importance of friendship.

  6. 6

    What message does this novel convey about the nature of time?

    The characters in this novel are constantly at the mercy of time, since they need to make it all the way around the world in eighty days. Many times it foils them, when things delay their trip and they miss various ships and trains. In the most important way, though, it saves them—because they traveled eastward across time zones, they gain a day and make it in time to win the bet. These contrasting effects of time show that no human can truly control it; time carries everyone along as it pleases.

  7. 7

    Are the adventures the group has throughout this story realistic and believable? Does this matter?

    In many cases, Fogg and his party manage to surmount obstacles in fairly unbelievable ways. They ride elephants, hire boats on a whim, and even commandeer large trading vessels, all in order to win a bet worth 20,000 pounds. These fairly unbelievable resolutions are characteristic of an adventure novel, however, and they leave the reader in suspense after each chapter. They also relay an important message that if this group can make it around the world in just eighty days, anything truly is possible.

  8. 8

    It is easy for Detective Fix to come across as merely an irritating antagonist. In what ways might he be a more complex character than that?

    Detective Fix shows remarkable persistence in this novel, dedicating a huge portion of his time and effort to doing his duty and arresting Fogg. He truly does believe Fogg is the bank robber, and that he is doing the right thing by pursuing him. In this way, Fix displays the same dedication to his task that Fogg displays to his own. Additionally, Fix comes to respect Fogg along the way. Though he does still arrest him when they reach English soil, he redeems himself somewhat when he rushes to notify Fogg once he finds out he is actually innocent, hoping to help him make it back to London in time.

  9. 9

    Which characters does Verne use to contrast Fogg's characteristics? What makes these characters different from Fogg?

    Both Passepartout and Detective Fix serve as foils to Phileas Fogg in this story, as their personal qualities contrast sharply with Fogg's own in order to highlight certain things about Fogg himself. Passepartout is eager, energetic, and excited by everything, vastly different from Fogg, who always remains calm even when their trip is severely delayed. Passepartout wears his emotions on his sleeve, while Fogg keeps everything concealed. Detective Fix's personality also contradicts Fogg's calmness: though he tries hard not to show it, Fogg's constant ability to evade arrest and detainment drives him crazy, and he repeatedly gets worked up over obstacles that get in his way of his goal of arresting the alleged bank robber.

  10. 10

    As the only female character, Aouda plays an important role in this story. What is this role, and how does Verne portray her in general?

    From the very first scene she is in, Aouda's delicacy is contrasted with the band of male characters that make up most of the story's cast. She begins to chip away at the emotional wall that Fogg has built up between himself and others, and Verne makes it very clear that she is slowly falling in love with him as time goes on. His portrayal of the only female character is mixed, though; she is very rarely given a voice, but she is also characterized as brave and clever, doing her part to fight off the Sioux during their attack and constantly choosing to remain with Fogg despite the danger they face.