Theme Analysis

Studies were carried out extensively in France to analyze the nature of Verne's works. After Rene` Escaich's general survey, classification and evaluation, Marcel More pioneered the detailed literary analysis of the individual texts. More argued for a strong link between Verne's works and his life: Nemo for instance shares many traits with the real life character, Hetzel. Fictional fathers and brothers closely reflect Verne's severe lawyer-father and beloved naval captain brother, Paul. More studied two more particular themes: the evolution of 20 th century trends, as foreseen by Verne and the writer's misogamy-as reflected in the constant disparagement of the idea of marriage, which could be considered as a sign of homosexuality.

Verne is also considered to have been greatly influenced by contemporary political views. He had an early faith in science, he believed in the subjugation of Nature and paid attention to contemporary independence movements. His books also reflect a surface optimism.

Another subtle psychological approach adapted to Verne's works argues that all the Voyages present a hero's quest, divisible into three stages: the preparation, the journey into the sacred and the subsequent rebirth of the hero. There are also scientific and mathematical structures that are very much evident in the Voyages, which were the most popular of Verne's works.

It can also be argued that there are two sorts of time for Verne: a controlled and scientific, but vacuous and ultimately dead one; and one where "every moment counts", where vitality and intensity are paramount. The necessary synthesis of the two conceptions eventually culminates in a recognition of the futility of searching for a totally coherent solution to the problem of time.

A major element in Verne's works is his ability to look into the future. There are certainly many bold innovations in the works from 1886: an airplane/helicopter, a pneumatically driven train under the Atlantic, a giant cannon designed to correct the Earth's axis, perfect audiovisual reproduction, a Trans Siberian railway, a motorized floating island and a project to turn the Sahara onto an extension of the Mediterranean. But the works set in the future do not have a monopoly of "predictions". In the other works too one can observe innovations such as the various submarines, a laser, artificial rain, radiotelephone, torture by means of electric shock and an explosive, which is claimed by its inventor to be capable of blowing up the globe. In fact, Verne is sometimes remembered more for his futuristic predictions rather than for his writing. But critical judgement is necessary in assessing Verne's predictions. Certain critics have read too much into the texts and this should be avoided.

The element of chance has been ignored by many commentators. The Einsteinian and nuclear hints in Jules' works may be due to mere coincidence. One might also keep in mind that many of the ideas were not original to Verne. He himself pointed out that his reading about contemporary scientific developments was the source of most of his ideas. In conclusion, it cannot be denied that he is probably the first ever science-fiction writer and that he occupies an undeniable place in history for that very reason.

1 - 'Around the World in Eighty Days' is Verne's most popular adventure story. Analyze it in comparison with other books in this genre.
2 - What do you think are the common characteristics and themes that appear in this novel and that are similar to other works by Verne?
3 - Write an essay on the plot structure of the novel. Do you think the plot lacks in any way?
4 - 'Fogg is the hero of the novel.' Do you agree? Substantiate. Support your point of view.
5 - Do you think the adventures in this story lack credibility and verisimilitude? Explain your point of view.
6 - At the end of the story, Verne seems to be giving the message that the attainment of love can lead to greater happiness than any amount of wealth and vanity. Do you think that Verne has emphasized this message? Explain your point of view.
7 - Quite a few chapters in the novel are devoted to India. How do you think the author has portrayed this eastern country?
8 - Which part of the novel did you enjoy the most and why? Write an essay on this aspect.
9 - Fogg is portrayed as an eccentric fellow. Write an essay on this aspect of his character.
10 - Detective Fix places many obstacles in Fogg's way. Write an essay on the importance of Fix's role in this novel.
11 - Do you think the role of Aouda adds interest to the narrative? Support your opinion in an essay.
12 - Passepartout, Fogg's servant is a major source of comedy in the story. Write an essay on the comic incidents revolving around him in the story.
13 - Passepartout's character is in contrast to that of Fogg's and provides a foil to the former. Do you agree? Write an essay on your opinion.
14 - Analyze Jules Verne as a writer who peeped into the future. Do you think this is true of Around the World in 80 days too?
15 - Examine the manner in which Verne ends this novel. How do you think he makes the denouement interesting and exciting?

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