Kings' Courier

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Of Human Bondage

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People say that love stories warm the heart, and in the words of country singer Maren Morris, “I could use a love song.” As readers, most of us love the surreal. We love to watch beautiful people live a beautiful life, but the truth is, none of this happens in real life. Throughout the early twentieth century, William Somerset Maugham sparked the interest in readers all over the world, and Of Human Bondage proves to be his masterpiece. The novel Of Human Bondage gave people a bitter taste of reality, but for some readers, this truth proved to be refreshing. Overall, critics everywhere provided reasons for why people appeal to the realism or not.

Because French became Maugham’s first language, his syntax and use of words can be difficult for English speakers to follow. Throughout the novel, sentences occurred that seemed as if they had been grammatical errors and even run on sentences, but when I realized English proved to be foreign to Maugham, the style of his work made perfect sense. While grammar proved to be important to most reviewers, the simplicity of his writing gave Maugham the touch of realism that readers may or may not have been looking for.

Bhagwad Jal Park, owning his own review website, gave his opinion on Maugham, and throughout the review, he was very passionate about the simplicity of Maugham’s writing. Park states, “In this case, Maugham couldn’t have been more open than if he was writing in his personal diary.” Overall, the author expresses great things about the novel and even touches on the idea that the book was written about Maugham himself. “Only a person who has experienced it can write the way he does” (Park).

Philip, the protagonist, lived an extremely difficult life, and his love story was not one that many people would choose to watch in the nearest movie theater, but life is also not a Nicholas Sparks book, and I believe, as readers, we don’t always agree with content that doesn’t show perfection. “Philip is a hapless, conniving, and flawed character, and I found him one of the least likable protagonists I have encountered. In real life, I don’t think I’d want to be around him or know him (Haupt).” While Norbert Haupt’s interpretation of the characters in the novel may seem harsh, many people think this way. The truth is, we are real people with real emotions, and not everyone lives a life out of a magazine. I believe most readers of love stories typically look for the happy ending or the cute “relationship goals,” but Maugham didn’t produce this, so I can understand why readers reacted with disgust.

1915 proved to be a very important year in history. For nations all over the world, World War I had taken over, and on October 16, 1915, France, Maugham’s home country, had declared war on Bulgaria (Google). Two years later the United States would then declare war on Germany to enter the war. Throughout the early twentieth century, people everywhere were looking for an outlet of relief, but I believe Of Human Bondage had another purpose. I believe this unsatisfactory life portrayed through the eyes of Philip forced readers to listen to the life many people in that time period lived. Maugham stated, “I found myself free from the pains and unhappy recollections that had tormented me.” Maugham found his niche in the literary world. He brought pain to the forefront of discussion, and whether people liked it or not, he brought attention to Of Human Bondage.

Overall, Maugham produced a true masterpiece, and whether people liked the novel or not, he published something that has been talked about among schools, reviewers, magazines, and critics since 1915. Many readers can criticize Maugham’s style, plot, and even the characters within Of Human Bondage, but not many people can deny the realism involved in writing the novel. Maugham did his job as an author and entertainer. He bonded to critics to Of Human Bondage just as Philip was bonded to Mildred.

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
Of Human Bondage