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The protagonist is none other than Mr. Fogg. He is a British gentleman residing in Saville Row at the Reform Club and leads an extremely well regulated life. But when he is challenged to go around the world in eighty days, he accepts the challenge and thus puts himself in a conflicting situation. He is the man who initiates the entire adventure of the novel, the ‘hero’ who finally overcomes all the obstacles in his path. The novel revolves around his efforts to jump from train to ship in order to traverse the world in the quickest way possible.
Fogg is also the hero/protagonist because of his heroic traits-he is calm, unruffled, gallant and large-hearted. He is rational on most occasions and it is only a person such as him who would be able to succeed in a difficult task. In this novel, the protagonist does not have to develop as a human being. But his challenge is whether he can overcome mistakes and the unpredictability of Fate, to succeed in a human enterprise. There is some development in his character as he grows to love a woman who becomes the center of his life, after the triumphant completion of his adventure. While there are other companions with him in his travels it is the exacting Fogg, who sets the ball of the story rolling and who is the undisputed and admirable protagonist of the story.
The protagonist resolves to travel around the world in eighty days and there is one antagonist that stops him in his endeavor. There are many antagonistic situations and antagonistic persons though.
Phileas Fogg is challenged by a group of whist players to go around the world in eighty days. While these players foresee the antagonistic situations that Fogg might have to face they are not antagonists themselves. They do not bodily or physically oppose Fogg’s plans though they mentally and psychologically hope that he does not win.
While Fix, the detective’s character may stake a claim to being the antagonist it does not succeed in its proclamation. Fix often blocks Fogg’s progress around the world but he is not the sole source of antagonism. He suspects that Fogg is a major bank robber and tries to retain Fogg in English ruled ports so that he may arrest the traveler. It is Fix who arrests Fogg at Liverpool thereby detaining him. But despite all of Fix’s villainous efforts, he is not the sole antagonist of the story.
Fogg is opposed by forces that can be ultimately traced in FATE, NATURE and HUMAN FRAILTY. When he is travelling by train to Calcutta he, as well as, the other passengers find out that the rail has not been completed. They have to arrange for their other transport from Kholby to Allahabad. Fogg hires an elephant but his own large heartedness demands that he breaks the elephant journey to rescue a princess. Because of such delays Fogg loses the two days that he had gained. Later storms at sea delay his journey. At another occasion he misses boarding his ship, as Passepartout does not inform his master that the departure of the ship had been postponed. Passepartout had been conned into drunkenness by Fix. Situations such as these abound in Fogg’s journey and prove to be antagonistic. When Fogg is traveling to New York by train the Sioux attacks them. The ensuing fight too takes away precious time from Fogg’s strict schedule.
Thus the protagonist Fogg faces antagonistic situations that oppose the discipline of his journey but at the same time, he is not shown as waging a war against a single antagonist.
The climax of the story takes place in the 36 th chapter when everyone at the Reform Club, especially the challengers, are waiting for Fogg to make his appearance. Surprisingly, Fogg does reach the drawing room of the club at 8:45 p.m. This comes as a big shock to the readers as we had read in the previous chapter that Fogg had reached London late and that he was quietly residing at his house at Saville Row. To now learn that Fogg does win the wager surprises us. This is a climactic moment as it is the fulfillment of the aim behind Fogg’s entire endeavor. More than that, it fills the readers with suspense and curiosity as to the appearance of Fogg on Saturday, December 21st, at the predetermined time. We had all read that he hadn’t managed to make it and then when we see that he wins the wager, we are completely taken aback.
The mystery of Fogg’s appearance at the club is solved in the next chapter that is the 37 th of the book, but the climax is undoubtedly in the 36 th chapter. This eventful chapter starts with the description of the excitement that pervades England as a result of the resumption of betting on Fogg’s proposed effort to travel around the world in eighty days. The interest in Fogg is regenerated when England learns that Fogg was wrongly suspected of the robbery and that he is actually quite innocent.
The chapter goes on to describe the crowd that assembles around the club on Saturday evening, the day on which it will be decided whether Fogg wins or loses the wager. The reader assumes that this chapter describes a day in the past a day when Fogg is disappointed because he has been defeated in his endeavor. His fellow whist players discuss whether Fogg will be able to make it on time and they are quite sure that he won’t because there has been no news of his travels in a long time. Stuart is convinced that Fogg has lost because Fogg’s name was not on the passenger list of the China; the only liner he could have come by soon enough from New York to Liverpool.
Towards the end of the chapter the countdown begins from 8:40 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. the whist players are quite excited as they count the seconds before it is 8:45 p.m. And at the fifty-seventh second of 8:44 p.m., Fogg opens the door of the room and comes in saying in a calm voice ‘Here I am, gentlemen’. The climax, which had started building with the description of the Saturday evening, reaches, it’s ultimate zenith when Fogg walks in calmly. For all practical purposes Fogg was a winner and the purpose around which the story had revolved, is reached Fogg’s words - ‘Here I am gentlemen’ constitute the climax of the story.
In the 37 th chapter, which is also the last, the outcome of the story is described. The author here explains how Fogg did manage to win the wager and how he had been mistaken himself about the time of his arrival at England we are told that Passepartout was sent to the parson and that he came back running to his master. He tells Fogg in an excited manner that the marriage cannot take place the next day because it is a Sunday. Fogg refuses to believe, as he is sure that the next day is a Monday. It is then that he realizes that he has made a mistake of a day! In actuality, Fogg had reached a day before but now he only has ten minutes to reach the Club in time. Fogg jumps into a cab and manages to make it in time, as we have seen in the previous chapter.
We now learn what happens after Fogg has won the wager. Though he had won the twenty thousand pounds, since he had spent something like nineteen thousand on the way, the proceeds were small. The thousand pounds that remained are divided between the worthy Passepartout and the luckless Fix, to whom Fogg could not find it in his heart to bear any grudge.
Aouda and Fogg pledge their love for each other and are married forty-eight hours after Fogg wins the wager. The morning after Fogg is married, he tells Passepartout that he is glad that they went through India as this is how he managed to meet the love of his life, Aouda. The last paragraph of the book questions what Fogg has gained through the journey around the world. We are told that Fogg gains nothing, "but a charming woman who unlikely as it may appear made him the happiest of men!"
So, Fogg gains much more than the ‘sense of achievement’ and the ‘wager’ he gets a wife and wins love which eventually make him even more happy as a man. Passepartout remains loyal to his master and it is he who gives the bride away at the marriage. His enthusiasm about the possibility of the journey being completed in seventy-eight days is very inspiring and yet another proof of his loyalty for his master.
Indeed the reader is very happy to see that all’s well that ends well our hero Fogg has proved that rationality and calmness can do wonders and we are completely on his side!