Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Blackstable

Blackstable. Small town in Kent, about sixty miles southeast of London, based upon the real town of Whitstable, where Philip goes at a young age to live with his aunt and uncle, the town vicar, after his mother dies. Life in this environment is so rigid and monotonous that Philip is forced to seek release in his uncle’s large collection of books, which sets the stage for his later desire to travel extensively.

King’s School

King’s School. Public school (the British equivalent of an American private school) for boys that Philip attends in the fictional town of Tercanbury, believed to be based on a school of the same name that Maugham attended in the real town of Canterbury. The boarding school setting, typical of British schools of the time, is to Philip a place of misery, where he is first tormented about his clubfoot, a physical deformity that prevents him from participating in most athletic activities. In addition, the lack of privacy associated with a boarding school is difficult for Philip to endure, and he longs to escape.

*Heidelberg

*Heidelberg. Picturesque German city on the Rhine River in which Philip spends a year learning French and German after leaving public school. As Paris represents the art world, Heidelberg seems to Philip the seat of philosophy and intellectualism. In addition, Heidelberg represents Philip’s first chance at freedom and independence. There, much as Maugham did in real life, Philip lives in a boardinghouse with professors and students from many different countries; this setting gives him his first real opportunity to examine his religious beliefs and philosophy of life, and he ultimately concludes that he does not believe in God....

(The entire section is 721 words.)

Of Human Bondage Literary Techniques

Arranging the narrative chronologically, Maugham offers readers a lucid, straightforward plot line. The style, marked by idiomatic,...

(The entire section is 104 words.)

Of Human Bondage Social Concerns

Maugham regarded himself as a storyteller rather than a social analyst or critic, and thus his attitudes toward society are more indirectly...

(The entire section is 255 words.)

Of Human Bondage Literary Precedents

Of Human Bondage is both a bildungsroman and an autobiographical novel. Its emotions and themes are accurate in presenting...

(The entire section is 102 words.)

Of Human Bondage Adaptations

Of Human Bondage has had two successful film versions, although in both extensive cutting was necessary with the result that emphasis...

(The entire section is 243 words.)

Of Human Bondage Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974. Praises Of Human Bondage for its theme and “remarkable detachment” considering that it is autobiographical. Discusses freedom realized through the “unfolding of an aesthetic sensibility.”

Calder, Robert. Willie: The Life of W. Somerset Maugham. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Organized into ten chapters, each delineating approximately one decade. Of Human Bondage is most fully related to Maugham’s life in the first three chapters (1874-1907). Insightful,...

(The entire section is 240 words.)