Around the World in 80 Days: cultural context

Around the World in 80 Days: cultural context

Literary Background

  • “Around the World in 80 Days” is based on the novel by Jules Verne, originally published in 1872.
  • Verne’s classic adventure tale introduces elements of science fiction, a genre just emerging around the time the novel was written, hinting at the future potential - and potential perils - of technological advancement.

Victorian Era and Social Context

  • The story takes place during the Victorian era in Britain, which was distinguished by significant social and technological changes.
  • British colonialism is crucial to understanding the narrative. Phileas Fogg’s journey involves several British colonies, such as India and Hong Kong, demonstrating the extensive reach of the British empire.
  • Women’s roles and society’s view on women are highlighted particularly through the character of Aouda, the Indian princess. Her ability to navigate Victorian English society despite her foreign background presents an interesting contrast to common stereotypes of both Victorian and Indian women.

Institutions and Technological Progress

  • The character Phileas Fogg is a member of the Royal Geographic Society, which was a prominent institution during this time period, renowned for promoting and funding exploration and scientific advancement.
  • The idea of travelling around the globe in 80 days illustrates the transport developments during the late 19th century such as the arrival of steam engines, which made long-distance travel more viable and faster.
  • “Around the World in 80 Days” also engages with the implications of the Industrial Revolution, a significant societal and technological shift that greatly affected the world and the future of travel, production, and beyond.

Cultural Perspectives

  • The depiction of various cultures and societies encountered during Fogg’s journey reflects the Western perceptions of the wider world during the Victorian era. This display of imperialistic views can stimulate discussion about Eurocentric attitudes.
  • These societal attitudes including classism, sexism, and racism can be presented and critically examined when adapting the play.