Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Themes


Logic versus Emotion

Never once does Phileas Fogg's confidence in logic falter. While Verne never reveals Fogg's innermost reflections and personal feelings, readers witness the Englishman methodically keeping a precise log of the dates and times of departures and arrivals. Fogg's exacting nature reveals his control over every aspect of his life. He never says or does anything he hasn't already considered from every factual angle.

In contrast, the only time Fogg's decisions are rooted in emotion arises from his devotion to friendship. His decisions to save Mrs. Aouda's life in India, to search for Passepartout in Hong Kong, and to rescue Passepartout in America are based on bonds of friendship. Still, his belief in his ability to use logic to triumph over danger never vacillates, and his ability to separate his emotions from facts allows his confidence to remain strong. Although his coldness and rigorous lifestyle may give the impression that he is machinelike, this is a superficial assumption: Phileas Fogg shows feelings when the situation justifies them.

Conversely, Passepartout and Mrs. Aouda's faith in Fogg's decisions stem from their emotions. They are dedicated to his cause, however vainglorious that cause might be. They believe Fogg will win his bet not because they have calculated the odds (or even the travel times of the various legs of the journey) but because they care about him and want him to succeed.


Although Passepartout and Mrs. Aouda have emotional faith in Phileas Fogg's attempt to win his wager, doubt sometimes seeps into their minds and hearts. They worry about Fogg beating the odds and winning because, unlike Phileas Fogg, they believe unforeseen circumstances have the power to frustrate his plans and cause him to lose. Andrew Stuart, the Reform Club member and instigator of the wager also contends a person cannot account for every eventuality in life, regardless of logic, technological advances, or British colonization.

Throughout the novel, Passepartout's oversights and indiscretions cause delays in Fogg's time line, although he is more than able to make up for them by his heroism. Passepartout also bemoans how he has caused Fogg's financial downfall with not just the wager money but also the remaining £20,000 used for expenses. Likewise, Mrs. Aouda's emotions mirror the valet's in Calcutta when she believes Fogg and Passepartout are arrested for saving her from the suttee instead of leaving her to her fate. She, too, doubts that she is worth the extra trouble and delay she causes; in the end, she is assured of her worth by her marriage to Fogg. In each of these cases their worries center on money, weakening their faith in Fogg and in the success of his wager. For his part, Fogg never doubts his chances because he is not in it for the money,but for the challenge. To him, the end justifies the means, as long as the latter are both legal and moral.


The main characters are willing to sacrifice their lives to save others. Although Mrs. Aouda isn't a voluntary sacrifice in the suttee ceremony, she willingly offers to remain in India when she believes Phileas Fogg and Passepartout are arrested for rescuing her. She would forfeit her happiness, independence, and even her life so Fogg can win the wager. Without being asked, Passepartout walks through fire to save Mrs. Aouda, climbs steamship rigging during typhoons and storms to save the ship, and risks his life crawling along the undercarriage of a moving train to save people's lives. They value others' lives more than their own.

For his part, Phileas Fogg jeopardizes his life to save Mrs. Aouda, to avenge his honor in a duel, and to rescue Passepartout from a Sioux abduction. Having been characterized from the beginning as a stodgy, scheduled, self-absorbed gentleman, Fogg's heroism may seem surprising, but it is clear that honor and justice can motivate even the most stoic characters.

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