Of Human Bondage Book Summary - Of Human Bondage Book explained in key points

Of Human Bondage summary

W. Somerset Maugham

Brief summary

Of Human Bondage is a novel by W. Somerset Maugham that follows the life of a young man named Philip Carey as he navigates love, art, and the struggles of finding his purpose in life.

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    Of Human Bondage
    Summary of key ideas

    Philip's Early Life and Struggles

    In Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, we start with the life of a young boy, Philip Carey. As an orphan, Philip is sent to live with his stern vicar uncle and his wife in the English countryside. Born with a club foot and marked as different, Philip experiences isolation and loneliness throughout his childhood. Despite his challenging start in life, he’s given an opportunity to study in Germany, which he seizes eagerly.

    In Germany, Philip’s eyes are opened to the wider world, where he starts mingling with various characters and learning the freedom of thought and action. It’s also here that he develops a keen interest in art and decides to pursue it as his career. Ignoring his uncle’s disapproval, Philip moves to Paris to become an artist.

    Philip's Pursuit of Art and Ill-fated Love

    In Paris, Philip's ambition to be an artist wavers due to financial struggles and self-doubts about his talent. He eventually gives up his artistic aspirations and moves back to London to study medicine. Life in London also introduces Philip to Mildred, a waitress he becomes infatuated with. His obsessive love for the inconsistent and self-centered Mildred causes him enormous emotional pain and financial strain.

    Mildred continues to manipulate and exploit Philip's love resulting in a destructive cycle of reunions and painful breakups. The eventual downfall and tragic end of Mildred leaves him with bitterness but also liberates him from the burden of his unrequited love.

    Philip's Journey to Self-discovery and Freedom

    In an attempt to escape from his past, Philip travels to Spain, where he becomes dangerously ill. During his recovery, he wrestles with questions about freedom, identity, and personal growth. He experiences a transformative realization about his pursuit of happiness and how he has been seeking it in the wrong places. This epiphany brings profound changes in his perspective towards life.

    Returning to London, Philip completes his medical studies and starts practicing as a doctor. He strives for self-reliance, rejects societal expectations, and chooses to tread upon the path of individualism and self-fulfillment. It is here that he learns to accept his physical deformity as a part of his life rather than a hindrance.

    The Final Act: Redemption and Contentment

    Later in life, Philip meets Sally Athelny, an unconventional woman who exudes kindness and simplicity in stark contrast to Mildred. Although initially wary, Philip slowly allows himself to entertain the possibility of love again. Sally's unexpected pregnancy pushes Philip to confront his past traumas and insecurities.

    In conclusion, Of Human Bondage sketches out an individual’s struggle against adversities, journey of self-discovery, and quest for inner freedom. It is a seminal exploration of the human condition, the power of acceptance, and the trials and tribulations that shape us. Despite the pain and struggles, Philip eventually finds peace and contentment through resilience, acceptance, and the courage to live life on his own terms.

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    What is Of Human Bondage about?

    The novel follows the life of Philip Carey, a young man with a clubfoot, as he navigates his way through love, art, and self-discovery. Set in the early 20th century, it explores themes of obsession, freedom, and the complexities of human relationships. A compelling and introspective read that delves into the limitations and desires that bind us all.

    Of Human Bondage Review

    Of Human Bondage (1915) is a captivating novel that delves into the complexities of individual desires and the struggles of self-discovery. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a profound exploration of human relationships, identity, and the pursuit of fulfillment.
    • The protagonist's journey through ups and downs provides a relatable and thought-provoking narrative.
    • The book's rich character development and emotional depth make it an engrossing and rewarding read.

    Who should read Of Human Bondage?

    • Readers who enjoy exploring the complexities and motivations of human nature
    • Individuals seeking thought-provoking and introspective literature
    • Those who appreciate insightful storytelling that delves into the challenges and growth of an individual's life

    About the Author

    W. Somerset Maugham was a British playwright and novelist. He is best known for his novel "Of Human Bondage," which is considered one of his greatest works. Maugham's writing often explored themes of human nature, society, and the complexities of relationships. His other notable works include "The Moon and Sixpence," "The Razor's Edge," and "The Painted Veil." Maugham's unique storytelling and keen observations of human behavior have made him a celebrated author in the literary world.

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    Of Human Bondage FAQs 

    What is the main message of Of Human Bondage?

    The main message of Of Human Bondage is the struggle for freedom, self-discovery, and the pursuit of happiness.

    How long does it take to read Of Human Bondage?

    The reading time for Of Human Bondage varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Of Human Bondage a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Of Human Bondage is a compelling read that explores the complexities of the human condition. It offers a rich and thought-provoking experience.

    Who is the author of Of Human Bondage?

    The author of Of Human Bondage is W. Somerset Maugham.

    What to read after Of Human Bondage?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Of Human Bondage, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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