Around the World in Eighty Days Summary

Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days

  • Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
  • Full study guide for this title currently under development.
  • To be notified when we launch a full study guide, please contact us.

Around the World in Eighty Days Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

Jules Verne’s title, Around the World in Eighty Days, establishes an atmosphere of conflict from the very beginning.  It is 1872 and the thought of circumnavigating the globe in that period of time would seem at best a longshot and to most an impossibility.  When Phileas Fogg claims that such a journey would be possible, he is challenged to do so and sets out to prove himself right.  He encounters adventure in an array of locales.  The possibility that Fogg might be the perpetrator of a robbery at the Bank of England adds a bit of uncertainty to the story as the main character might not be who he seems.

First published a year after that in which it is set, Around the World’s action begins in London on a Tuesday, the first of October.  Wealthy British gent Phileas Fogg lives a solitary, minutely scheduled life.  He is a member of the Reform Club and has a French valet, Jean Passepartout.  His thought that an eighty-day journey around the world was possible was prompted by an article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that pointed to a new railway in India that would make the trip possible.  He accepts a twenty thousand pound bet from members of his club and with Passepartout in tow leaves London on a train at 8:45 on the evening of October 2. To collect the bet, he must return to the club by the same time on the December 21.

The first leg of their journey takes Fogg and Passepartout to Egypt where a detective named Fix from Scotland Yard is in search of a bank robber.  He lacks a solid description and mistakes Fogg for the culprit.  He also lacks a warrant so joins them on a steamer bound for Bombay.  He becomes friendly with Passepartout but naturally does not tell him his reason for being there.  After India, they take a train to Calcutta where Fogg finds that the new rail talked about in the Daily Telegraph stops at one point and does not continue until fifty miles ahead in Allahabad.  Undaunted, Fogg buys an elephant and enlists the services of a guide, and once again they move forward.  The travelers next come upon a young Indian woman named Aouda who has been drugged and is being readied to be sacrificed.  Fogg and Passepartout devise a plan to rescue her and, with Passepartout pretending to be her dead husband on the funeral pyre she is to be burned on, he frightens the priests, and they are on their way again, bringing with them Aouda.  Now a trio, they take a steamer to Hong Kong.  Detective Fix has Fogg and Passepartout arrested but they flee when on bail and Fix follows them to Hong Kong where Passepartout is pleased to be reunited with him.

The plan had been to leave Aouda with a relative in Hong Kong, but that person has moved, so she stays with them as they continue their journey back to Europe.  In an attempt to once again arrest Fogg, Fix tells Passepartout that his master is a bank robber.  Passepartout who believed Fix to be a spy working for the Reform Club does not believe that accusation.  A series of events causes Fogg and Aouda to miss a steamer to Yokohama. They eventually find their way and search for Passepartout who had arrived before them.  To earn money for a passage home, the valet has been working for a circus.  The trio, along with Fix, takes a paddle-steamer across the Pacific to San Francisco where Fix claims he will stop trying to delay the journey but rather will help in getting them back to Britain where he will then arrest Fogg.

The next portion of their trip is via train to New York.  Various roadblocks again get in their way including being attacked by Sioux warriors who kidnap Passepartout.  American soldiers help in his rescue.  Upon arriving in New York, they find they have missed the ship they were supposed to take.  Once again aided by his deep pockets, Fogg hires a steamboat hoping to be taken to Liverpool.  The captain refuses, so Fogg pays for his group to be taken to Bordeaux, France.  Once at sea, he bribes the crew to stage a mutiny and head to Liverpool.  When the boat runs out of fuel, Fogg buys it from the captain as has the crew burn any wood possible to keep on course.

Ultimately they arrive in Ireland and take a train from Dublin to a ferry that runs to Liverpool.  They are still in a position to meet the deadline and win the bet.  As soon as they are on English land, Fix arrests Fogg.  This is short lived as the true robber had been caught three days earlier.  The delay, however, is costly.  Fogg arrives in London five minutes late and realizes he has lost the bet.  He apologizes to Aouda for bringing her to London where he will now have to live in poverty.  She asks him to marry her and Passepartout seeks a minister.  It turns out that because in their travels the group crossed the International Date Line and because they traveled east they gained a day, so it is in actuality December 21, not December 22 as Fogg had thought.  Fogg reaches the club in time to win the bet.  Although much of the money was already spent during the eighty-day trip, he shares what is left with Passepartout and Fix, and he and Aouda are wed.

Around the World in Eighty Days is often classified as fantasy and since the likelihood of such a journey at that time was considered slim, the genre is not totally inaccurate.  Jules Verne, however, was writing in a time of technological innovations such as America’s First Transcontinental Railroad and the construction of the Suez Canal and of a time when leisurely travel was showing signs of outstripping exploration.