Jean Passepartout

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Jean Passepartout
Around the World in Eighty Days character
'Around the World in Eighty Days' by Neuville and Benett 05.jpg
Jean Passepartout by Alphonse de Neuville & Léon Benett (1873)
First appearance Around the World in Eighty Days
Created by Jules Verne
Information
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Valet
Nationality French

Jean Passepartout, a character in Jules Verne's novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, is the French valet of 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. It is also a play on the English word passport.[citation needed]

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 further 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 within 80 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 a young woman named Aouda from a forced sati, and becomes a friend of Fix, a police detective who suspects Fogg of robbing a bank. Passepartout learns of Fix's suspicions, but keeps them to himself as he believes Fogg already has enough problems to worry about. Due to his silence, however, Fogg and Fix never have a chance to discuss the case, and Fix arrests Fogg as soon as they return to England. The day after Fogg and Passepartout return to London, seemingly too late, it is Passepartout who discovers that the date is one day earlier than he thought, leaving Fogg just enough time to complete the journey and win his bet. Fogg marries Aouda, with Passepartout giving away the bride, and divides the net proceeds from the journey between Passepartout and Fix - but not without deducting the cost of the gaslight use from Passepartout's share.

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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