53 pages 1 hour read

Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1872

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Summary and Study Guide


Around the World in Eighty Days is from the Extraordinary Voyages series published in 1872 by French Victorian author Jules Verne. Recognized as an early example of the science fiction genre, the novel blends scientific content with artistic style. Verne is well known for writing adventure novels that accurately portray the use of complex travel-related technology developed during the Industrial Revolution such as steam engines and railways. His novels, at the same time, incorporate artistic descriptions of exotic locales and cultural practices.

Verne adapted Around the World in Eighty Days, one of his most popular works, for the theatre in 1874. Since then, multiple adaptations have appeared in different mediums including a musical adaptation produced by Orson Welles in 1946 titled Around the World and a recent television adaptation released in 2021 starring David Tennant as Phileas Fogg.

This guide refers to the 1981 Watermill Classic edition of the novel.

Content Warning: The text includes depictions of colonialism and dated cultural perspectives, as well as racial and national stereotypes reflective of the book’s time of writing.

Plot Summary

Phileas Fogg is a wealthy English gentleman living a solitary life in London. He is a member of the social Reform Club and spends his days following a strict routine that includes reading the daily news and gambling at the club. His recently hired French valet, Jean Passepartout, looks forward to working for a gentleman of such regularity.

That evening at the Reform Club, the members discuss a recent burglary of £50,000 and the completion of the Intercontinental Railroad. Phileas insists that, with the new railroad, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. His fellow club members counter that, while this feat may be possible, it’s most unlikely due to unforeseen delays. Phileas wagers £20,000, half his fortune, that he could indeed travel around the world in 80 days. The men accept the wager, and Phileas proposes to leave immediately.

Phileas tells Passepartout of the new program they will follow. With only two suitcases and a carpetbag containing Phileas’s remaining fortune of £20,000, the pair board the train immediately. They travel from London to Suez, Egypt. Detective Fix, on spotting Phileas, suspects he was behind the aforementioned burglary. The detective plans to follow Phileas and earn the reward for capturing the criminal.

Phileas and Passepartout take a steamer ship, the Mongolia, to Bombay, arriving two days early after promising a large sum of money to the captain. In India, they take the train to Calcutta, where they learn that 80 miles of track are still incomplete. Phileas purchases an elephant, and the pair embark on a journey through the Indian forest toward the next leg of the journey. While traveling through the forest, they encounter a group of Brahmins and learn that a woman named Aouda will soon be ritually sacrificed by the group. Phileas resolves to rescue Aouda. After the failure of a stealthy rescue attempt that evening, Passepartout rescues the Parsee woman by dressing as her deceased husband and pretending to rise from the dead. Aouda joins them as they continue traveling to the next leg of the journey.

Phileas, Passepartout, and Aouda take another steamer, the Rangoon, to Hong Kong, where Aouda resolves to travel with them for the remainder of the journey. Detective Fix continues to follow Phileas, attempting to delay the group and obtain a warrant for the protagonist’s arrest before they leave the British territories. In Yokohama, their next stop, Fix reveals his belief about Phileas to Passepartout. Passepartout is unconvinced, certain that Phileas could not be a criminal. Fix makes another attempt to delay Phileas, this time a successful one: He separates Passepartout from the group, tricks the valet into getting drunk and high, and ensures Phileas never receives word that their next ship will depart earlier than anticipated. Passepartout just makes it aboard the next steamer; Phileas and Aouda do not.

Phileas and Aouda, with Detective Fix on their heels, secure an alternate boat to Shanghai, encountering a typhoon that allows them to intercept the steamer to Yokohama. Phileas has lost two days due to delays. After some searching, Phileas and Aouda reunite with Passepartout in Japan. Fix promises Passepartout that he will help Phileas reach London, intending to arrest him on British soil, and the valet agrees to keep Fix’s identity secret, resolving to wait for a more opportune moment to alert his master.

The group, which now includes Detective Fix, travels by steamer across the Pacific Ocean. On arriving in San Francisco, they board the Pacific Railroad to New York, where they encounter several obstacles including a herd of buffalo crossing the tracks, a failing suspension bridge, and a band of Sioux warriors who ambush the train and kidnap Passepartout. Phileas rescues Passepartout with the aid of the American soldiers. The group then takes a wind-powered sledge to Omaha, where they resume passage to New York by train, now severely off schedule.

From New York, they take an alternate steamer heading to Bordeaux, France. Phileas bribes the crew to mutiny and heads to Liverpool instead. They arrive in Ireland and take the ferry to Liverpool before taking the train on to London. They arrive with five minutes to spare, only for Fix to arrest Phileas immediately.

When Fix learns that the burglar was arrested days earlier, he is remorseful—he apologizes to Phileas for his mistake and for costing him the wager. Phileas, in turn, apologizes to Aouda for bringing her along with him since he is now destitute and cannot provide for her. Aouda reveals that she is in love with Phileas anyway and asks him to marry her. They contact a minister and learn that they are mistaken about the date. It is not December 22; it is December 21. The group traveled east, shortening each day by four minutes for every degree of longitude they crossed. While the same amount of time has passed for them as for the people in London, the sun has risen and set 80 times for Phileas and his companions and only 79 times in London. Passepartout explains this mistake to Phileas, and they eagerly make their way to the Reform Club. Phileas arrives just in time to win the wager with £1,000 left for expenses, which he divides between Passepartout and Fix. He marries Aouda.