Jean Passepartout

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Passepartout
Around the World in Eighty Days character
Jean Passepartout by Alphonse de Neuville & Léon Benett (1873)
Jean Passepartout by Alphonse de Neuville & Léon Benett (1873)
Created by Jules Verne
Information
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Valet
Nationality French

Jean Passepartout is a character in Jules Verne's novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. He is the French valet to the novel's English main character, Phileas Fogg. His surname translates literally to "Goes-Everywhere", but this is an idiom for "skeleton key" in French.

At the beginning of the novel, Passepartout has just been hired by Phileas Fogg after Fogg's previous valet failed to meet his exacting standards. Passepartout, who has lived an irregular and well-travelled life, is looking forward to a restful employment, as Fogg is known for his regular habits which never take him farther afield than the Reform Club.

Ironically, on Passepartout's first day at work, Fogg makes a bet with his friends at the Club that he can circumnavigate the world in no more than eighty days and Passepartout is obliged to accompany him. In addition to the wager, the valet has an additional incentive to complete the journey quickly: He left a gaslight burning in his room and the resulting expense of wasted gas will be docked from his salary.

In the journey, Passepartout plays a critical role in Fogg's adventures, such as rescuing Aouda from a forced sati, and becomes a friend of the pursuing detective, Mr. Fix. Passepartout discovers that Fix suspects Fogg of robbing a bank, but decides to keep that information to himself, since his employer seemed to have a busy enough agenda without having to deal with that worry. Unfortunately, Passepartout realizes too late that this means Fogg does not have the opportunity to discuss the allegation with the detective and prove his innocence before returning to Britain and being arrested on the spot by Fix. Finally, when the group arrives in London seemingly too late, it is Passepartout who discovers his employer actually still has time to complete his journey and win his wager.

The character of Passepartout serves several purposes in the narrative — as a point-of-view character for Verne's French readers, and as comic relief, both in his reactions to the strange places and events he encounters, and in a tendency to get trapped, abducted, or, on at least one occasion, left behind.

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