Of Human Bondage: Chapters 73-78

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Summary of Chapters LXXIII-LXXVIII
 
Philip sends Mildred and the baby to Brighton for recovery, but he thinks Mildred looks better than ever. She invents a story about her husband for the boarding house she will stay in. Philip is surprised that she wants to find some woman in Brighton to care for the baby. She doesn’t want to keep it. Philip had wanted her to keep the baby; he feels sad that it is unwanted.
 
His money has been slipping away, but he passes his exams and feels confident of the future as he writes love letters to Mildred. He decides to spend time with Mildred in Brighton. When he meets her he tells her of Griffiths. He has told Griffiths of his love for Mildred, and he wants them to meet. They go to see Mrs. Harding, a curate’s wife, who will take care of Mildred’s baby. Philip has the tickets for Paris for their holiday.
 
When Mildred returns to London, Philip introduces her to Griffiths, who has just passed his final exam and will be going home. They have a party, and Griffiths is handsome and charming. Mildred talks of nothing but Griffiths afterwards and says gaily that she is in love with Griffiths. Griffiths begins hanging around, and Philip gets jealous. He starts throwing them together and spying on them to make his misery worse. When he asks Griffiths if he is in love with Mildred, Griffiths says no. Philip asks him to stay away from her, but Griffiths immediately makes plans to meet Mildred privately for lunch. Mildred shows the letter to Philip and admits she is in love with him.
 
Even with this misery, Philip says he can forgive her if they can just go away to Paris. Mildred replies she cannot go to Paris now because she loves Griffiths. They quarrel. The next day Mildred comes to Philip to say she is ready to go to Paris because Griffiths is too poor to take her anywhere. She cries. Philip is surprised to see that Mildred can love as passionately as he can. He knows what her pain is so he gives Mildred and Griffiths the money to go away together, thinking Mildred will get it out of her system. She promises to love him afterwards. He gives them the money and angrily tears up the tickets for Paris.
 
The weekend is a nightmare of jealousy for Philip. He gets drunk and spends time with a prostitute. On Monday he waits for Mildred to come back , hoping she has finished with Griffiths, but she slips away from her rooms without saying good by to him. She has left for good. Griffiths sends a letter of apology wanting to be friends again, saying Mildred wasn’t worth it, and he had trouble getting rid of her. Philip tears up the letter and is out of his mind with grief. He goes to Blackstable to recover in the country at his uncle’s.
 
Commentary on Chapters LXXIII-LXXVIII
 
Griffiths is the catalyst that brings out the extremes of both Philip and Mildred, who are rather dull together on their own. Although Philip has a passionate love for Mildred, there is no real chemistry between them as there is between Mildred and Griffiths. Philip had thought Mildred without sexual desire, but he sees her run off with first Miller and then Griffiths, ignoring him. It is clear she is not attracted to Philip but is not above using him, since he is such a “gentleman.”
 
Mildred’s self-centered behavior is seen first in her giving her baby away without a thought and then going off with Philip’s friend, using his money. She does not care whether she hurts Philip, who has been more than good to care for her in her trouble. She insults him saying that he had forced himself on her, and she didn’t want him to touch her. Suddenly Philip is saying the same pitiful lines of heartbreaking love to Mildred that Norah had said to him. The shoe is on the other foot.
 
Yet Philip has a streak of self-torture that makes him encourage the affair. He actually gives them the means to go off together. He understands that they are the same type—beneath  him—and wants to prove it. He “had a fiendish desire to break down their scruples, he wanted to know how abominably they could behave towards him” (Chpt. LXXVI, p. 409). Later, he thinks he must have been a little mad, for “he took a fierce joy at the thought of their dishonour” (p. 409). This is similar to the way he had acted with his friend Rose at school, trying to make the situation worse than it was to torment himself. Even when Mildred goes off with Griffiths, he plans on taking her back: “He hated her, he despised her, he loved her with all his heart” (p. 410).
 
When he has the urge to commit suicide, his reason tells him he will get over it. He realizes he could not force Mildred to love him. He begins to think of humans as beasts who only respond to sex: “Because he had not attracted Mildred sexually, nothing that he did had any effect upon her” (Chpt. LXXVIII, p. 418). People think him cool and collected, but he wears a mask over his emotions. He broods on his own weakness of will and lack of self-control.
 

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