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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne is a novel about the adventures of Phileas Fogg and his servant Passerpartout. The plot structure is simple and follows a linear line; there is hardly any interchanging of the past and present; neither is there much interpolation. One day while Phileas Fogg is with some fellow whist players; he reads in a newspaper that it is possible to travel around the world in eighty days. No one believes this is true, except Phileas. Phileas bets his challengers, that he can make the journey in eighty or under days, and then leaves along with his servant immediately. The plot then traces Fogg’s journey around the world, the obstacles that he overcomes and the lasting love that he finds. The main plot is definitely based on the nature of the challenge and whether Fogg will be able to travel around the world. The subplots are intertwined with the main thread and include Detective Fix’s suspicion that Fogg is a robber, Aouda’s love for her savior Fogg and Passepartout’s profuse buffooning and blustering.
From Chapter 1, in which Phileas Fogg and Passepartout accept each other, the one as master, the other as man to Chapter Four - when the master astounds his servant, the narrative is based in London and the seed of the plot is sown. From Chapter Five, the interesting journey begins and we are introduced to the major obstacle in the travels - Detective Fix and his suspicions. He befriends Passepartout and the latter is not in the least suspicious of the detective, little knowing that he would be a major hindrance to his master. In Chapter Nine, Fogg sails the Red Ocean and the Indian Ocean and they are both propitious to his designs. From Chapter 10, in which Passepartout is only too glad to get off with the loss of his shoes to Chapter Sixteen - In which Fix does not seem to understand in the least what is said to him, the adventurers are in India and the narrative is simply linear.
In Chapter 17 Fogg travels from Singapore to Hong Kong. It is between Chapters Twenty and Twenty Three that there is a slight mixing of the past and the present in an otherwise simple narrative. This happens because Passepartout gets opiated and he and his master are separated. While Fogg has to hire a separate ship to take him along, Passepartout manages to board the ship that they were all scheduled to travel in. At the end of Chapter twenty-three, master and servant are reunited and in the next chapter they travel together towards the continent of America. From Chapter twenty-five onwards till the second last chapter, the narrative is once again linear. The last chapter has a small segment that recounts the past and it is explained how Fogg is mistaken regarding the day that he reached London and how the folly is rectified at the very last moment.
In Chapter twenty-five, a slight glimpse is had of San Francisco, from chapter twenty-six to thirty; the adventures on the American railroad are recounted. While in Chapter thirty-one, Fix helps Fogg, later when they step on England soil, Fix proves to be a bane and arrests Fogg. After coping with exasperating delays in Chapters thirty-two and thirty-three, Fogg finally lands in London in chapter thirty-four. The story and the plot is wrapped up in the last three chapters and there is a complete reversal in fortune. Fogg seems to have lost the bet in chapter thirty-five but in the last two chapters, we see how he is not a loser, but is a winner.
The sub theme of Aouda and Fogg’s love gains prominence in the last chapter. The author upholds love over both money and the winning of challenges. This is highlighted in the topic of the chapter itself - Chapter 37- in which it is shown that Phileas Fogg gained nothing by his tour around the world, unless it were happiness.
While the plot structure throughout the narrative remains simple, variety is added through the range of exciting adventures that Fogg and his companions experience. The simple plot helps as it provides a strong foundation to the wide range of experiences in the journey. A complicated plot combined with undulating adventures would have only added confusion and would not have helped much. In fact, the plot is very neatly portrayed in the title of the book itself -Around The World In Eighty Days.