Of Human Bondage Social Concerns

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Maugham regarded himself as a storyteller rather than a social analyst or critic, and thus his attitudes toward society are more indirectly than explicitly expressed. Of Human Bondage is primarily an existentialist novel concerned with the development of character and the molding of an individual life. The protagonist Philip Carey grows from boyhood to young adulthood, suffering from his overly emotional nature and losing his illusions.

As a ward of his uncle, the Vicar of Blackstable, he perceives conventional village life as restrictive and the people as intolerant, snobbish, and hypocritical. When he goes to the King's School, a Tercanbury boarding school, he discovers that these qualities persist in both masters and students. Seeking escape from his unhappiness, he travels to Germany to study, where he finds life more stimulating aesthetically and intellectually, although he learns that middle-class prejudices exist there also. Later, in Paris, where he lives...

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