Review of the Novel Around the World in 80 Days

Jules Verne
Jules Verne. Hulton Archive/Stringer/Getty Images

Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days is a rip-roaring adventure story set primarily in Victorian England but spans the world following its protagonist Phileas Fogg. Written with a cosmopolitan and open view of the world, Around the World in Eighty Days is a brilliant tale.

Vivid in its descriptions, Fogg, a cold, brittle man, who slowly shows that he does have the heart of an Englishman. The book wonderfully captures a spirit of adventure that was bubbling around the turn of the century and is impossible to put down.

The Main Plot

The story begins in London where the reader is introduced to an incredibly precise and controlled man by the name of Fogg. Fogg lives happily, although a little mysteriously, for no-one knows the true origin of his wealth. He goes to his gentleman's club every day, and it is there that he accepts a wager to travel around the world in eighty days. He packs his things and, along with his manservant, Passepartout he sets out on his journey.

Early on in his voyage, a police inspector begins to trail him, believing Fogg is a bank robber. After a reasonably uneventful start, difficulties emerge in India when Fogg realities that a train line he was hoping to take has not been finished. He decides to takes an elephant instead.

This diversion is fortunate in one way, for Fogg meets and saves an Indian woman from a forced marriage. On his journey, Fogg will fall in love with Aouda and, on his return to England will make her his wife.

In the interim, however, Fogg faces a number of challenges, including losing Passepartout to a Yokohama circus and being attacked by Native Americans in the Midwest.

During this incident, Fogg shows his humanity by going off personally to save his manservant, despite the fact that this could well cost him his bet.

Finally, Fogg manages to get back onto British soil (albeit by leading a mutiny aboard a French steamer) and seemingly in enough time to win his bet.

At this point, the police inspector arrests him, delaying him just long enough to lose the bet. He returns home saddened by his failure, but brightened by the fact that Aouda has agreed to marry him. When Passepartout is sent to arrange the wedding, he realizes that it is a day earlier than they think (by traveling East across the International date line they have gained a day), and so Fogg wins his bet.

The Human Spirit of Adventure

Unlike many of his more science-based fiction stories, Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days is interested in the capabilities of technology in his own time. The things that human beings can achieve armed only with a sense of adventure and an exploratory spirit. It is also a brilliant dissection of what it is to be English in the time of empire.

Fogg is a brilliantly drawn character, a man who is stiff-upper-lipped and precise in all his habits. However, as the novel goes on the icy man begins to thaw. He begins to place the importance of friendship and love above his usual concerns of reserve and punctuality.

In the end, he is willing to lose his bet to help a friend. He doesn’t care about defeat because he has won the hand of the woman he loves.

Although some would argue it doesn't have the great literary merit of some novels written around the same time, Around the World in Eighty Days certainly makes up for it with its vivid descriptions. The undoubtedly a classic story is peopled with characters who will be long remembered. It is a breathtaking roller-coaster ride around the world and a touching view of an older time. Filled with the thrill of adventure, Around the World in Eighty Days is a wonderful story, written with skill and no short order of panache.

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Topham, James. "Review of the Novel Around the World in 80 Days." ThoughtCo, Nov. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/around-the-world-80-days-review-738618. Topham, James. (2017, November 8). Review of the Novel Around the World in 80 Days. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/around-the-world-80-days-review-738618 Topham, James. "Review of the Novel Around the World in 80 Days." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/around-the-world-80-days-review-738618 (accessed January 18, 2018).