Character Analysis

Phileas Fogg - This precise and intelligent man is one to the most memorable characters of Verne. When we are introduced to him, he is an English man who lives a very regularized life. He is impeccable in his manners and is very punctual as well as particular about what he wants. If it weren’t for the title we would never have guessed that he makes a plan to go around the world. What is most distinct about his character is his eccentricity and even his trip around the world results out of a stubborn quirk and not out of a greed for the wager money.

While Fogg does travel around the world he does not really bother to find out more about the possible sources of tourist interest that he passes through. Surprisingly if anyone had a conversation with Fogg regarding the very same places, he would know a lot about them. It is the volatility and fire beneath the calm exterior that makes Fogg so very attractive.

Another outstanding trait of Fogg is his large heartedness. He decides to help the sacrificial victim, Aouda and risks his own life in the bargain. The same attribute in Fogg enables him to pardon Passepartout despite the latter’s many blunders. Towards the end of the novel, Fogg even forgives the detective who had put so many hurdles in Fogg’s path. Fogg goes to the extent of giving Fix some money, while anyone else in Fogg’s place would have been livid with anger.

As the protagonist of the story, Fogg demands a great deal of attention. It is he who sets most of the action rolling and it is he who initiates the entire adventure. He never gives up despite all odds and hires boats, captures ships, rides on a snow mobile and even hires a train in order to attain his goal.

Verne adds an unexpected twist in the story when the precise Fogg slips up and mistakes the time. He thinks he has reached London late, when in fact, he reaches it a full day earlier. The entire England and the readers too cheer, when Fogg wins the wager and manages to go around the world in the stipulated period.

Verne shows growth in Fogg’s character. While Verne celebrates Fogg’s rationality and his detachment at the end Verne maintains that Fogg attains nothing but love through his entire endeavor. He may have won a wager, which is good for his pride but more than anything else he finds lasting love, which is wonderful for his heart. Aouda would have kept Fogg very happy and we are glad that the ex-shipman marries the exotic Indian princess.

Passepartout - Fogg’s valet, Passepartout is a foil to Fogg’s character. This interesting Frenchman is an integral part of the story, from the very first chapter. He is shown as a man, who is on the lookout for some peace and quiet after having had a very exciting and adventurous life. It is for this reason that he decides to serve the impeccable Fogg, who comes across as a meticulous man, who will not undertake travels. Passepartout soon realizes that he is completely wrong for Fogg suddenly plans a journey around the world and Passepartout is tugged along. This journey is not undertaken at a leisurely pace but is completed at a hectic gallop complete with many bumps.

While Passepartout is very loyal, it is he who serves to delay his master several times. Passepartout is naïve to a certain extent and tends to get carried away at several occasions. While Fogg, Aouda and Passepartout are at Hong Kong, Passepartout gets opiated in the company of Fix and is unable to inform his master about the change in the departure time of the Carnatic. Fogg is thus forced to hire a special boat to Shanghai. Later in the story while the group is traversing America, Passepartout is taken captive by the Sioux. Fogg’s journey is delayed yet again, while he decides to rescue his menial-Passepartout. But the worst blow comes when Fogg is arrested by detective Fix in England. Passepartout can be greatly held blame for this arrest. He should have warned his master about Fix’s suspicions regarding the robbery, but he didn’t. Passepartout does feel guilty that he is a major source of delay as well as financial loss to his master. On the other hand, he makes up for his errors by his jovial nature and his unflinching love and loyalty for his master. Moreover it is Passepartout who takes the most crucial step in the rescue of Aouda. It is he who manages to lift her from the sacrificial pyre by pretending to be the dead Rajah reawakened. Thus while Aouda’s rescue is Fogg’s idea, it is Passepartout who makes it possible.

At the end of the book Fogg is grateful to Passepartout again. It is Passepartout who goes to the Reverend Samuel Wilson, of the Parish of Marylebone, in order to tell him about Fogg and Aouda’s planned wedding. When he requests the priest to marry the couple, he realizes that the next day is Sunday, not Monday. He rushes back to his master and drags him to the Reform Club. Fogg wins the wager as a result of his menial’s last minute realization of their joint mistake.

Both Fogg and Aouda are fond of the funny Passepartout. Fogg gives Passepartout a part of the money he wins, while Aouda gives this French man her affection and care.

Passepartout serves to add a comic touch to the story with his antics. He is all the more interesting because he has been an acrobat before. His little role as a long nosed acrobat in Japanese clothes is a very bright cameo. His lightheartedness and his blunders are in complete contrast to Fogg’s seriousness and meticulousness. Together they make an unforgettable pair. Passepartout enthralls the audience and the readers grow to like this crazy, eccentric Frenchman.

Detective Fix - He is the closest to being termed the ‘antagonist’ in this story of a challenge to travel around the world in eighty days. He appears in the fifth chapter and is then a permanent feature in the story till the very end. Mr. Fix is one of the many detectives who are on the trail of the infamous robber of the Bank of England. Somehow he gets suspicious of Mr. Fogg and starts to believe passionately that it is none other than Fogg who is guilty of the bank robbery. Fix has a drawing of the suspected culprit that is given to all detectives. The portrait happens to resemble Fogg’s persona and this strengthens Fix’s conviction about Fogg’s guilt. Thus, Fix decides to obtain a warrant to arrest Fogg. The catch is that the warrant takes time to reach Fix and till then he has to shadow Fogg all over the world. He succeeds in placing many obstacles in Fogg’s path without Fogg ever realizing that Fix is out to ruin his plans. Fix befriends Passepartout with the sole aim of keeping a tab on Fogg. Passepartout’s naivete and innocence makes him incapable of smelling a rat in Fix’s pretended friendly behavior.

Fix is not at all a straightforward man. In his desperation to get hold of the reward money that a detective gets for arresting a robber, he even goes to the extent of intoxicating Passepartout with opium. Passepartout is then unable to inform his master about the change in the departure time of a ship and Fogg is delayed as a result. Previously it was Fix, who encouraged the Indian priests of a pagoda at Malabar Hill, to pursue Passepartout till Calcutta in order to arrest the latter on the change of desecrating a holy place. Indeed, Fix’s antics make the reader detest him. We are even more frustrated, when Passepartout does not tell his master about Fix after having learnt the latter’s true identity. Thus Fix continues to accompany Fogg and his group on their travels. He is shameless in that he accepts Fogg’s offer to travel with the group on special ships and trains, without contributing to the finances that make these exclusive conveyances possible.

While viewing Fogg’s gallantry in America, Fix does have a twinge of embarrassment at whether his suspicious are mistaken but these thoughts remain passing whims only. The only place where Fix does help Fogg is when he arranges for a unique mode of conveyance from Fort Kearney to Omaha Station and that is by a sledge. There is of course a very selfish reason behind this extended help. Fix too wishes to reach English soil as soon as possible, so that he may arrest Fogg. He cannot arrest Fogg in America. Fix finally does arrest Fogg at Liverpool and Fogg is imprisoned. When Fogg is released with due apologies, he hits Fix and this is a blow that Fix very much deserves.

What is most amazing is that despite Fix’s misbehavior, Fogg feels sorely sorry for the defeated Fix and gives him some part of the wager money that he wins. We can imagine how Fix would have been indebted to Fogg and his generously for the rest of his life.

Aouda - Aouda, as a beautiful and exotic Indian princess is a major source of glamour in the novel. In a story, which is mainly about men, Aouda is the sole source of femininity. Fogg and his group come across her while traveling through India. In fact, the story of her rescue is one of the most dramatic episodes in the novel. She is a rich princess who is forcibly married to an old rajah after her father’s death. When the rajah too passes away, she is forced to commit ‘suttee’- that is sacrifice of the wife’s life on the funeral pyre of the husband’s. Being young and intelligent, she obviously does not want to sacrifice herself but she is literally intoxicated with opium by the fanatic priests and is trapped by them.

Fogg and his companions had hired an elephant to take them to Allahabad. The guide relates Aouda’s story to them when they see the procession of priests with Aouda. Fogg in a rare emotional moment insists on trying to rescue Aouda. Finally through the courageous daring of Passepartout the princess is saved from the jaws of death. She is then eternally grateful to both Fogg and Passepartout for the rest of her life.

It is decided that she will travel with Fogg till Hong Kong, where she will ask one of her rich relatives for aid. But when they reach Hong Kong, they find out that the relative has moved away. Thus Aouda accompanies Fogg in his journey around the world. Despite Fogg’s cold exterior Aouda senses a warm heart beneath and falls in love with him. Passepartout alone can sense that Aouda’s feelings for Fogg surpass mere gratefulness but Fogg shows no apparent sign of reciprocity. But nevertheless, we learn that Fogg does love Aouda and he confesses his love towards the end of the novel. Aouda and Fogg do marry and Passepartout is especially happy to see two of his favorite people yoked together.

Aouda seems to be the perfect companion for a man such as Fogg. She is shown as beautiful, polished in manners and kind at heart. Moreover, she is just as self-respecting as Fogg himself is and is also equally brave. When they are attacked by the Sioux in America, she puts up a courageous fight. She gets hold of arms and defends herself magnificently. She refuses to be left with Passepartout at Kearney station and braves the acute suffering of a journey in the open air in order to accompany Fogg to Omaha station.

Verne uses the character of Aouda to drive home a crucial point. In the last chapter titled-‘In which it is shown that Phileas Fogg gained nothing by traveling round the world unless it were happiness, Verne points out that Fogg’s ultimate victory was not the one of the wager, but one in which he attained Aouda’s love. Verne goes on to write that Aouda was a charming woman, who made Fogg the happiest of men! In Verne’s own words-‘And forsooth, who would not go round the world for less?’ the author refers to Aouda as being a more important attainment than the completion of a successful journey round the world. Aouda reiterates the fact that human relationships and love are more important than any number of worldly challenges, wagers or money.

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