Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
Major Characters (continued)
He is the closest to being termed the ‘antagonist’ in this story of a challenge to travel around the world in eighty days. He appears in the fifth chapter and is then a permanent feature in the story till the very end. Mr. Fix is one of the many detectives who are on the trail of the infamous robber of the Bank of England. Somehow he gets suspicious of Mr. Fogg and starts to believe passionately that it is none other than Fogg who is guilty of the bank robbery. Fix has a drawing of the suspected culprit that is given to all detectives. The portrait happens to resemble Fogg’s persona and this strengthens Fix’s conviction about Fogg’s guilt. Thus, Fix decides to obtain a warrant to arrest Fogg. The catch is that the warrant takes time to reach Fix and till then he has to shadow Fogg all over the world. He succeeds in placing many obstacles in Fogg’s path without Fogg ever realizing that Fix is out to ruin his plans. Fix befriends Passepartout with the sole aim of keeping a tab on Fogg. Passepartout’s naivete and innocence makes him incapable of smelling a rat in Fix’s pretended friendly behavior.
Fix is not at all a straightforward man. In his desperation to get hold of the reward money that a detective gets for arresting a robber, he even goes to the extent of intoxicating Passepartout with opium. Passepartout is then unable to inform his master about the change in the departure time of a ship and Fogg is delayed as a result. Previously it was Fix, who encouraged the Indian priests of a pagoda at Malabar Hill, to pursue Passepartout till Calcutta in order to arrest the latter on the change of desecrating a holy place. Indeed, Fix’s antics make the reader detest him. We are even more frustrated, when Passepartout does not tell his master about Fix after having learnt the latter’s true identity. Thus Fix continues to accompany Fogg and his group on their travels. He is shameless in that he accepts Fogg’s offer to travel with the group on special ships and trains, without contributing to the finances that make these exclusive conveyances possible.
While viewing Fogg’s gallantry in America, Fix does have a twinge of embarrassment at whether his suspicious are mistaken but these thoughts remain passing whims only. The only place where Fix does help Fogg is when he arranges for a unique mode of conveyance from Fort Kearney to Omaha Station and that is by a sledge. There is of course a very selfish reason behind this extended help. Fix too wishes to reach English soil as soon as possible, so that he may arrest Fogg. He cannot arrest Fogg in America. Fix finally does arrest Fogg at Liverpool and Fogg is imprisoned. When Fogg is released with due apologies, he hits Fix and this is a blow that Fix very much deserves.
What is most amazing is that despite Fix’s misbehavior, Fogg feels sorely sorry for the defeated Fix and gives him some part of the wager money that he wins. We can imagine how Fix would have been indebted to Fogg and his generously for the rest of his life.
Aouda, as a beautiful and exotic Indian princess is a major source of glamour in the novel. In a story, which is mainly about men, Aouda is the sole source of femininity. Fogg and his group come across her while traveling through India. In fact, the story of her rescue is one of the most dramatic episodes in the novel. She is a rich princess who is forcibly married to an old rajah after her father’s death. When the rajah too passes away, she is forced to commit ‘suttee’- that is sacrifice of the wife’s life on the funeral pyre of the husband’s. Being young and intelligent, she obviously does not want to sacrifice herself but she is literally intoxicated with opium by the fanatic priests and is trapped by them.
Fogg and his companions had hired an elephant to take them to Allahabad. The guide relates Aouda’s story to them when they see the procession of priests with Aouda. Fogg in a rare emotional moment insists on trying to rescue Aouda. Finally through the courageous daring of Passepartout the princess is saved from the jaws of death. She is then eternally grateful to both Fogg and Passepartout for the rest of her life.
It is decided that she will travel with Fogg till Hong Kong, where she will ask one of her rich relatives for aid. But when they reach Hong Kong, they find out that the relative has moved away. Thus Aouda accompanies Fogg in his journey around the world. Despite Fogg’s cold exterior Aouda senses a warm heart beneath and falls in love with him. Passepartout alone can sense that Aouda’s feelings for Fogg surpass mere gratefulness but Fogg shows no apparent sign of reciprocity. But nevertheless, we learn that Fogg does love Aouda and he confesses his love towards the end of the novel. Aouda and Fogg do marry and Passepartout is especially happy to see two of his favorite people yoked together.
Aouda seems to be the perfect companion for a man such as Fogg. She is shown as beautiful, polished in manners and kind at heart. Moreover, she is just as self-respecting as Fogg himself is and is also equally brave. When they are attacked by the Sioux in America, she puts up a courageous fight. She gets hold of arms and defends herself magnificently. She refuses to be left with Passepartout at Kearney station and braves the acute suffering of a journey in the open air in order to accompany Fogg to Omaha station.
Verne uses the character of Aouda to drive home a crucial point. In the last chapter titled-‘In which it is shown that Phileas Fogg gained nothing by traveling round the world unless it were happiness, Verne points out that Fogg’s ultimate victory was not the one of the wager, but one in which he attained Aouda’s love. Verne goes on to write that Aouda was a charming woman, who made Fogg the happiest of men! In Verne’s own words-‘And forsooth, who would not go round the world for less?’ the author refers to Aouda as being a more important attainment than the completion of a successful journey round the world. Aouda reiterates the fact that human relationships and love are more important than any number of worldly challenges, wagers or money.