Of Human Bondage: Character Profiles

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Betty Athelny
Betty Athelny, Thorpe’s common law wife, came from a farmer’s family in Kent.  She was a former servant in his house and quite handsome at one time.  She is now the kindly mother and cook of the family.  ,
Sally Athelny
Sally Athelny, the pretty eldest Athelny daughter, is charmed with Philip during his visits. She waits on him. She is a strong farm girl type and healthy like her mother,. She is an apprentice in a dress shop. She refuses a proposal from an engineer because she has always liked Philip. They fall in love on a hopping harvest in Kent, and he proposes to her when he thinks that she is pregnant. She becomes his future wife.
Thorpe Athelny
Thorpe Athelny, the ex-patient that Philip took care of, befriends him. He is living with an ex-servant woman and their nine children in an old grand house that is now a slum. He is 48, once married to a lady but unhappy, he leaves her and upper-class life for a life of simplicity. He works at odd jobs to keep his large family. He is something of a scholar and philosopher on his own and loves to talk to Philip, inspiring him with a love of travel.
Mrs. Helen Carey
Mrs. Helen Carey is Philip’s beautiful mother who dies after giving birth to a stillborn child, leaving him an orphan. She apparently loves beautiful things and is improvident with money. She loved Philip and felt sorry about his clubfoot. She dies six months after her husband. Before dying, she went out to a photographer to have likenesses for her son to remember her. She was a penniless orphan from a good family but splurged on items like grapes, flowers, clothes, and entertaining.
Henry Carey
Henry Carey, the younger brother of William, was Philip’s father. He was a successful London surgeon from St. Luke’s Hospital who died young of blood poisoning. He made a lot of money but spent freely, marrying one of his patients, who was an orphan without money of her own.
Mrs. Louisa Carey, the Vicar’s wife
Mrs. Louisa Carey, the Vicar’s wife, is Philip’s childless aunt. Shy and gentle, she raises him after his parents die. She tries to be kind but doesn’t know how to treat children. She intervenes whenever Philip is unhappy with her husband. She wears her hair in ringlets as in youth and gives Philip the money to study art in Paris.
Philip Carey
Philip Carey is the main character partially based on Maugham’s life. He is orphaned at the age of nine and goes to live with his uncle and aunt at Blackstable. Unhappy and alienated from others because of his sensitivity and clubfoot, he is raised as a gentleman with expectations of going into the Church. He rejects religion for art studies, and then accounting, and finally, medicine. He searches for the meaning of life through meeting various teachers and friends in England, France, and Germany, rejecting one philosophy after another, until he learns to live his own life. His primary and tragic relationship is with Mildred Rogers with whom he has a sordid and addictive bond. He finally marries Sally Athelny and becomes a doctor.
Mr. William Carey, Vicar of Blackstable
Mr. William Carey, Vicar of Blackstable, is a short, stout, old-fashioned vicar in his fifties in the Church of England, brother of Philip’s father, Henry. He takes in his nephew after the death of Philip’s parents. He is balding and rigid in terms of church doctrine, expecting his nephew to act like a small adult. He leaves enough money to Philip to finish medical school.
Herbert Carter
Herbert Carter is the accountant to whom Philip is articled in London to learn the business. He looks like a military man with a moustache. He tries to act like a gentleman and sends his son to Cambridge.
Ruth Chalice
Ruth Chalice is an art student in Paris who sleeps successively with all the art students but remains buddies with them. She is tall and thin and “wantonly aesthetic,” sensual and ascetic. She has some artistic talent and is praised by Foinet. She and Lawson have an affair.
Clutton
Clutton is an intensely serious and thin art student who keeps his work secret. Once he discovers El Greco, he destroys all his paintings in the style of the Impressionists, and begins over. He believes one can only learn from oneself. Everyone believes him a genius, but no one has seen his work.
J. Cronshaw
J. Cronshaw is a poet who published a few poems, in The Yellow Book and other places. He holds forth as a mentor to a young circle of English and American admirers in Paris. He undoes Hayward’s influence on Philip and teaches him a sort of Darwinian philosophy of life, devoid of morality. He advises Philip to leave Paris before he gets into a rut like he has. He goes to London to see his poems through the press before he dies, and Philip takes care of him as he dies.
Emma
Emma is Philip’s nurse from Devonshire. She loves Philip like a second mother, and he is devastated in being taken away from both her and his mother at once.
Professor Adolf Erlin
Professor Adolf Erlin is a teacher in a Heidelberg high school, where he teaches Philip German and Latin. His wife runs a boarding house where Philip stays.
Flanagan
Flanagan is an American art student in Paris, one of Philip’s friends. He has a jolly character and helps Philip after Fanny’s suicide.
Monsieur Foinet
Monsieur Foinet is the painting teacher at Amitrano’s in Paris. He is a brutally honest critic and tells Fanny Price her painting is no good. He tells Philip he is mediocre and to leave Paris before he wastes his life as he did.
Harry Griffiths
Harry Griffiths, a neighbor, is the handsome and kind medical student, who takes care of Philip when he is sick. Philip introduces him to Mildred, who falls in love with him. Heartbroken, Philip gives them the money to go off for a weekend together and then never speaks to Griffiths again. Griffiths is sorry about the fling for he has a hard time shaking Mildred when he is through with her.
G. Etheridge Hayward
G. Etheridge Hayward is an English friend of Philip’s in Germany who later moves to London. He befriends Philip in Heidelberg, taking him to plays and introducing him to aesthetic writers and poets. He is a dilettante who does not like to work. He is killed in the Boer War.
Frederick Lawson
Frederick Lawson is the good looking English art student who rooms with Philip in Paris. He eventually moves his studio to London where he is a successful portrait painter. He continues to be in the circle of Philip’s friends until Philip goes through his period of poverty. He is the one who introduces Philip to Norah Nesbitt.
Macalister
Macalister, Hayward’s friend, is a stockbroker and philosopher.  He discovers the tavern in Beak St. where Hayward, Lawson, Philip and he meet to drink rum and talk. He advises Philip to invest money in the stock market, but the money is lost and Philip is forced to quit medical school for two years.
Mary Ann
Mary Ann is the maid at the Carey vicarage who mothers the young Philip. He spends time in the kitchen with her because she tells him stories.
Emil Miller
Emil Miller is the German businessman who courts Mildred and is the father of his child. She runs off with him to be “married,” but returns to Philip pregnant and unmarried, since Miller already has a wife and three children.
Norah Nesbit
Norah Nesbit is the plain but happy novelette writer who takes Philip in and cures him of his broken heart. She is everything Mildred is not: kind, motherly, funny, upbeat, happy, appreciative, intelligent, good company. She is in love with Philip, but he dumps her the minute Mildred comes back. She works as an extra on the stage and writes to keep her and her baby, for she is divorced. Eventually she marries a journalist.
Mrs. Lucy Otter
Mrs. Lucy Otter is the massiere, or studio manager, for Amitrano’s Art School in Paris. She is a divorced woman who lives with her mother and paints mediocre pictures. She is kind to Philip, settling him into the studio and giving him advice.
Mr. Tom Perkins
Mr. Tom Perkins is the headmaster of King’s School but not a gentleman. Son of a linen-draper and a day-boy when he had been there, he is brilliant and brings in new subjects and teaching methods. He tries to make friends with Philip, recognizing his intelligence. He encourages Philip to win a scholarship to Oxford to become a clergyman.
Fanny Price
Fanny Price is an art student in Paris who starves and commits suicide. She is in love with Philip but very unattractive and hard to get along with. She is proud and does not ask for help or lets on how bad her situation is. Although she works very hard, her paintings are not good. Philip is the one who finds her body, based on a note she sent him.
Mildred Rogers
Mildred Rogers is a pretty tea shop waitress with whom Philip falls hopelessly into an obsessive and destructive love. She is lower class but likes to put on the manner of a higher class that she has read about in novels. She flirts with men who might be her ticket out of poverty. She makes up stories about her genteel background and claims she only works for amusement. She only goes with Philip when she is not with someone else and is cold and manipulative. He debases himself to her, and she is rude and insulting. When she runs off with Miller and gets pregnant, she comes back to him for help. He drops Norah, a woman who is good to him, for Mildred who only destroys him. He helps her when she is pregnant, but when she runs off with Griffiths, he tries to get over her. When he will not take her back as a lover, she destroys his apartment. Eventually, she becomes a prostitute and dies of syphilis.
Mr. Sampson
Mr. Sampson is the buyer at the department store, Lynn and Sedley’s, who gives Philip a chance to design clothes.
Dr. South
Dr. South is the crusty but kind and lonely surgeon in Dorsetshire for whom Philip works for a short time. He treats the poor folk and offers Philip a partnership that Philip takes when he believes Sally is pregnant, so they can make a home there.
Leonard Upjohn
Leonard Upjohn is the pretentious literary critic and friend of Cronshaw who gets his poems published and writes a critical article giving him public notice.
Mr. Watson
Mr. Watson is the son of a rich family of London brewers, learning accountancy with Philip at the Carter firm. He dresses like a gentleman and has been to school. He is the only acquaintance for Philip at the firm.
Miss Emily Wilkinson
Miss Emily Wilkinson is a friend of Mr. Carey, a governess who lives in Berlin. She finds a school for Philip in Heidelberg. When she meets Philip on vacation at Blackstable, he has his first affair with her, though she is older (35-40). She is flirtatious, a modern woman who has picked up ideas and habits from living in Paris. She excites Philip and he thinks she will be a good first amour, though he is thinking more about sex than relationship. He is repulsed by her possessiveness and glad when the summer is over.

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