Around the World in 80 Days: social context

Around the World in 80 Days: social context

Victorian Era Background

  • “Around the World in 80 Days” is a novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1872, during the Victorian era. Understanding this era’s social context is crucial to interpreting the theme, characters, and narrative of the play.
  • This period witnessed rapid advancement in science and technology. This novel reflects the excitement and optimism of the era about human achievement in the areas of new inventions and discoveries.

Cultural and Racial Attitudes

  • As the play depicts a journey around the world, it exposes various cultures as seen through Western eyes. Remember, Victorian era interest in ethnography was emerging as part of a broader colonial enterprise.
  • Racial and cultural stereotypes prevalent in the text reflect Victorian-era attitudes and prejudices.

Gender Roles and Class Distinctions

  • The text exemplifies Victorian era gender roles. For example, Aouda, the lead female character, is portrayed as dependent on the male characters for rescue and support.
  • The character of Phileas Fogg demonstrates typical Victorian gentleman attributes, including unwavering politeness, calm demeanour, wealth, adventurous spirit, punctuality, and an unyielding sense of duty.
  • Class distinction is also a prominent theme in the text, which reflects the strict social hierarchy maintained in Victorian society.

British Imperialism and Industrial Revolution

  • It addresses two central components of Victorian society: British imperialism and the idea of the ‘civilized’ man. These themes demonstrate Britain’s perception and relation to the rest of the world at that time.
  • Additionally, the novel reflects on the significant impact of the Industrial Revolution, notably in transportation advancements, which made the concept of circumnavigating the globe in 80 days conceivable.


Remember, comprehending the social context of “Around the World in 80 Days” will aid in forming a well-rounded understanding of the novel, its characters, and its narrative. The social beliefs and societal structures of the Victorian era have major implications for the text’s central themes and conflicts. Understanding these elements can deepen your understanding of not just the text but also the period in which it was written.