View Full Version : synopsis and opinion on Of Human Bondage

07-30-2009, 02:51 PM
Philip is physicially bound by the deformity of his club foot. He is mentally bound by intermittant changing of professions he tries and then does not follow through with. He is also financially and emotionally bound by Mildred and her baby.
He is emotionally bound by all the relationships he goes through.

In the time Philip is doing his accounting apprenticeship he finds the work troublesome and boring. He feels the need for social interaction, although he does not know that is what he is looking for.

In Paris, you see many people who are the exact opposite of Philip. They have a bohemian air. During this time, he gets the social interaction that he craves. They do what they like, when they like, and whome they like it with. Philip gets a taste of what it is like to be free in Paris. He gets to see how people that are at peace with themselves live and act. But the Parisian freedom is not the kind of freedom Philip craves. While trying to do his best as an art student, it becomes plain to Philip that he does not have the required talent to make a living as an artist. He also discoveres he does not have the heart for it, nor does he want to be potentially futher financially bound due to money that is never a sure thing. This is time in which he meets Cronshaw, who later becomes his friend and mentor. It is Cronshaw who teaches Philip that vice and virtue have no meaning and that one should be the center or oneís universe; and that Philip should not care so much of what others think and feel about him. Cronshaw teaches Philip how to be his own man, how and why to be selfish (because humanity is selfish). It is Cronshaw that, in a sense, mentally frees Philip.

When Philip decides to go to medical school, he does it with the ambition of going to far off places to see and explore the world. This is a physical and mental sense of freedom for Philip. When Philipís financial security is no longer enough to keep him a float he must submit to a factory job. Mildred is the source of financial troubles. He supports her because he feels bound to the her and the baby, unfortunatly, Mildred does not feel bound to him in the same way. In this factory job, Philip is made to only give directions to customers who wish to purchase clothing and in this way Philip is physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially bound to a high degree. Physically, due to the fact that he is only allowed to stand in a specified spot and needs only to say either one or two phrases over and over to different customers. Mentally, because his brain is not being challenged as it was before; not to mention the monotony of the day(s). Financially, because the factory takes money out of his pay per week for taxes or room and board. He cannot ever seem to make enough to get him out of this hole. Emotionally, because he feels to low to emerse in coversations with his friends and also because of the fact that Mildred inadvertantly put him there.

The death of his uncle allows him to finish his medical education through money that was left to him. Philip find that through dealing with people he is at ease. He finds that he can converse with them and the patients find that he does not consider himself to be above them, this allows Philip a certain freedom of the soul.

Philip finishes his first appointment and is offered a partnership. This he declines because he wants to visit far away places. He then falls in love with Sally soon after. Sally discovers that she might be pregnant soon after returing to the city. Philil upon hearing the news does not know what to think or do as this spoils his plans for his solitary future. He then develops feelings of attatchment toward Sally and his unborn baby. It is at this time that he makes the decision not to travel and practice medicine abroud. He chooses instead to settle and make a family with Sally. During this time Philip does not loose his sense of freedom, despite the fact that this situation is drastically the same as the one with Mildred. Philip retains his sense of freedom because he does not feel pressure from Sally to support her and a child. Philip then discovers that he can not imagine life without Sally and soon after proposes. It is here that he is allowed to be free with the person(s) he wants to be free with for the rest of his life.

Mildred is bound by society. The only way she knows she can get what she wants is through the exploitation of herself and men. Mildred is also bound by the upbringing of her child.

The Vicar:
The vicar is bound by his religion. We see this in the fact that he can not be at peace and ready to die without the last rights read to him. This is a common affliction for many religious peoplej, but it also shows how many people are bound by their faith. Also in the fact that his religion determines the way in which manner everything is done around the house. He does not allow his wife or his nephew to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Of Human Bondage brings up a lot of questions about live, love, and death. There are individual situations which can be expanded upon. In each of the phases Philip engages in throughout his life are a number of situations in which each of us can relate to, either as Philip or another person in the social drama and interaction. A great many times, it seems as if there are all these other strings pulling Philip in different directions. I got frustrated at times with his character because he canít seem to make up his mind on what to do with his life, and also not to have the added constant burden for lack of money. Yes, it is quite irksome to see somone written as just coming into some money because their mother just died and then to see them pitter it away on trivial things and slutty women. Not to mention, he has the nerve to groan and complain when his girl goes off with some other guy and he has no money to support himself. I donít think he used the money that was left to him properly. I know that kind of action and negligence would have to held in todayís standards, unless you are one those people who have never had to work for anything anyway.
However, I did enjoy the book. It was beautifully written. I am glad because I have finally gotten to write something about it, which portray my personal views on the literature.