The novel is rich in themes. Science fiction theme, roaming theme, detective theme, love theme and other themes cross and merge, and construct quite rich meanings. Among these themes, the Eastern theme stands out. In the novel, Fog’s route around the world is detour through Africa to India, from India to Japan, through Japan to San Francisco, and finally from San Francisco back to England. India, China, the Philippines, Japan and so on account for nearly a third of the pages. This part of Oriental imagination and writing is also the most prominent part of the dramatic elements in Around the World in 80 days, full of excitement and adventure, bantering and satire. Jules Verne fully demonstrated his humanism as a writer.
Through the words of his characters, he expresses his indignation at India’s barbaric funeral system, and shows his deep sympathy and righteous indignation at the British opium poisoning of the Chinese people through the experience of Jean Passepartout. He also used the beating of Fix and Fogg at the San Francisco convention to ridicule the chaos of the American democratic elections. Verne through Fogg’s whereabouts, connected Europe, South Asia, East Asia, North America’s topography, climate characteristics, urban architectural characteristics and local customs. As if it were a richly detailed book of popular geography, the precise amorous feelings and the ups and downs of the characters in the book combine closely with the strange religious customs and local customs of the world to form the propeller of the plot.
Fix, for example, would not have had the opportunity to urge the evil monks in Calcutta to sue Fogg and his French valet Jean Passepartout if he had not been a know-it-all who did not know that Hindu temples had to take off their shoes and socks and enter barefoot. If Fogg and Fix had not strayed into the Hong Kong tavern, Fix would not have drunkun Fogg with his pipe, and Fogg would have missed the important message that his master’s ship was about to sail ahead of time. Fogg had to venture to Yokohama in a boat of twenty tons, and there would have been no hurricane at sea. And if Fogg hadn’t gone to the Japanese acrobat troupe in Yokohama to find work and perform feats of human overlap, the master and servant would not have met by accident.
Custom has no greater effect on the plot than when Fogg and his party, riding on elephants, witness the grotesque and sinister funeral procession of widows passing through the dense forest, and Fogg has a whim to rescue the poor lady who has been forced to die. This directly created Aouda’s brilliant appearance in the story, and also created the sympathy between Fogg and Jean Passepartout. In other words, when a new custom is carefully portrayed by Jules Verne, it is conceivable that the conflicts of the story will again become concentrated and climax. The customs of the world’s landscapes are, in a manner of speaking, like intricate prisms, and the development of established stories like flower petals, which, when combined, create a kaleidoscope of wonders from Jules Verne’s travels.
Around the World in 80 Days follows the narrative pattern of travel in Western literature. The hero Fogg is a calm, rational, methodical, precise and accurate Englishman. He bet the men of the club twenty thousand pounds that he could complete the circle in eighty days. So he set out with the French servant, and after a long journey they returned to England on time. Fogg not only won the stakes, but also won the love of Aouda from India. This is the main clue of the novel. There is another clue in the novel: Detective Fix pursues Fogg. Fifty-five thousand pounds are missing from the counter of the Bank of England. The police find that the thief looks very much like Fogg. When they found out that Fogg had left England, they thought he was going to make an escape, so they sent Fix to hunt him down.
Travel and adventure and the pursuit of fugitives form the double power of narration in the novel, as well as the parallel and intersecting two threads, which make the narrative and structure of the novel form a certain tension.