Of Human Bondage: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. “He was dreadfully tired when he went up to bed, and he did not resist when Mary Ann undressed him. She kissed him after she tucked him up, and he began to love her” (Chpt. VII, p. 28).

    The young orphan, Philip, has been sent to live with his clergyman uncle and aunt, who do not know how to handle children. Philip begins to love the motherly maid of the house, whom he clings to as the only warm person in the vicarage.

  2. “It is such as he, as little conscious of himself as the bee in a hive, who are the lucky in life, for they have the best chance of happiness: their activities are shared by all . . . “ (Chpt. XIII, p. 50).
    The twelve year old Philip at King’s School is marked and teased because of his clubfoot. He feels different and self-conscious and envies the naturalness of the other boys who are not sensitive and reflective.
  3. “Faith had been forced upon him from the outside . . . A new environment and a new example gave him the opportunity to find himself. He put off the faith of his childhood quite simply, like a cloak that he no longer needed” (Chpt. XXVIII, p. 125).
    In Germany, the young Philip is away from his Christian background for the first time and finds people discussing religion freely. He finds it a relief to let religion go for other philosophies of life.
  4. “Hayward surrounded his sordid and vulgar little adventures with a glow of poetry, and thought he touched hands with Pericles and Pheidias because to describe the object of his attentions he used the word hetaira  . . . (Chpt. XXIX, p. 129).
    Philip’s friend speaks pretentiously, as though beauty is more important to him than morality. He cloaks his visits to prostitutes by using the Greek word for a courtesan.
  5. “He did not know how wide a country, arid and precipitous, must be crossed before the traveller through life comes to an acceptance of reality. It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which  have been instilled into them, and each  time they come into contact with the real they are bruised and wounded” (Chpt. XXXIX, pp. 129-30).
    Philip has had a wretched youth growing up with Christian ideals in a harsh and cruel environment. When he begins to travel, he begins his journey to finding his own truth.
  6. “Would he always love only in absence and be prevented from enjoying anything when he had the chance by that deformity of vision which seemed to exaggerate the revolting?” (Chpt. XLVII, p. 247)
    Philip is an art student in Paris, longing for romance. He watches the love affair between Lawson and Ruth Chalice, and he wonders how Lawson is able to go through with it, for Philip sees her physical defects, such as corns on her toes.
  7. “There was no such thing as truth. Each man was his own philosopher, and the elaborate systems which the great men of the past had composed were only valid for the writers” (Chpt. LIII, p. 282).
    Cronshaw, the skeptical and bohemian poet in Paris, shows Philip he has to think for himself. There is no one right philosophy one has to discover.
  8. “When she left him, it was wretchedness, and when she came to him again it was despair” (Chpt. LVII, p. 304).
    This describes Philip’s sexual passion and addiction for Mildred. It is an obsession that leads to misery, a description of “human bondage.”
  9. “The greenish pallor of her skin intoxicated him, and her thin white lips had an extraordinary fascination” (Chpt. LX, p. 319).
    Mildred’s ghastly anemic appearance cannot account for Philip’s hunger for her. She uses her sexuality to control him, though he is completely aware what she is doing and how unwholesome she is.
  10. “There was a devil within him which forced him to make matters worse. He wanted to hurt her as much as she was hurting him” (Chpt. LVIII, p. 310).
    Mildred brings out the worst most bestial behavior in Philip. He is jealous of another suitor and wants revenge, so he insults her, ruining his own chances.

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