Of Human Bondage Themes & Symbolism

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The two dominant themes are the need for emotional control and the inevitable pain of disillusionment.

Philip Carey, an orphan afflicted with a club foot, is excessively sensitive and shy and, as a result, reacts to life's adversities with greater than normal emotion. Only through suffering embarrassment, indignity, and pain does he finally arrive at a kind of stoic acceptance of suffering as his lot. An intensely painful love relationship causes him to question the relevance of happiness as a major purpose of life.

According to Maugham, life is a process of ridding oneself of illusions acquired during childhood. Philip recognizes hypocrisy in teachers and clergymen and finally rejects his religious beliefs. He adopts a scientific view of reality-that the universe and man are the products of natural forces and that consequently individual life has no meaning. Yet having rejected the illusions of his youth, he accepts the...

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This section contains 173 words
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Buy the Of Human Bondage Study Guide
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