“The burden of human passions” Maugham in summary

The action takes place at the beginning of the XX century.

Nine-year-old Philip Carey remains an orphan, and he is sent for education to his uncle-priest in Blackstable. The priest does not feel affection for his nephew, but in his house Philip finds many books that help him forget about loneliness.

At school, where the boy was given, schoolmates mock him, making him painfully shy and shy – he thinks suffering is the lot of his life. Philip pleads with God to make him well, and that the miracle does not happen, blames one himself – he thinks he lacks faith.

He hates school and does not want to go to Oxford. Contrary to the wishes of his uncle, he seeks to learn in Germany, and he manages to insist on his own.

In Berlin, Philip falls under the influence of one of his classmates, the Englishman Hayward, who seems to him exceptional and talented, not noticing that the deliberate unusualness of that is just a pose beyond which nothing is worth. But

Hayward and his interlocutors’ disputes about literature and religion leave a huge mark on Philip’s soul: he suddenly realizes that he no longer believes in God, is not afraid of hell and that man is responsible for his actions only in front of him.

After completing the course in Berlin, Philip returns to Blackstable and meets Miss Wilkinson, the daughter of Mr. Cary’s former assistant. She is about thirty, she is cutesy and coquettish, at first she does not like Philip, but nevertheless soon becomes his mistress. Philip is very proud, in a letter to Heyward he composes a beautiful romantic story. But when the real Miss Wilkinson leaves, feels great relief and sadness because reality is so unlike dreams.

Uncle, resigned to Philip’s reluctance to go to Oxford, sends him to London to study the profession of a certified accountant. In London, Philip is bad: there are no friends, and the work induces an unbearable longing. And when a letter comes from Hayward with a proposal to go to Paris and paint, Philip seems that this desire has matured in his soul for a long time. Having studied for

only a year, he, despite the objections of his uncle, leaves for Paris.

In Paris, Philip entered the art studio “Amitrino”; Fanny Price is helping him to settle in a new place – she is very ugly and untidy, she can not stand for rudeness and great self-conceit with a total lack of ability to draw, but Philip is grateful to her anyway.

The life of the Parisian bohemia is changing the philosophy of Philip: he no longer regards ethical tasks as fundamental to art, although the meaning of life still sees in Christian virtue. The poet of Cronshaw, who disagrees with this position, suggests to Philip for understanding the true purpose of human existence to look at the Persian carpet pattern.

When Fanny, learning that in the summer Philip and his friends were leaving Paris, arranged an ugly scene, Philip realized that she was in love with him. And on his return he did not see Fanny in the studio and, absorbed in his studies, forgot about her. A few months later, Fanny receives a letter asking to visit her: she did not eat anything for three days. Upon arriving, Philip discovers that Fanny committed suicide. This shocked Philip. He is tormented by a sense of guilt, but most of all – the senselessness of the asceticism of Fanny. He begins to doubt and in his abilities to paint and addresses these doubts to one of the teachers. And indeed, he advises him to start life anew, because only a mediocre artist can come out of him.

The news of his aunt’s death forces Philip to go to Blackstable, and he will not return to Paris any more. After parting with painting, he wants to study medicine and goes to the institute at the St. Luke in London. In his philosophical reflections, Philip comes to the conclusion that conscience is the main enemy of the individual in the struggle for freedom, and creates a new life rule: one must follow one’s natural inclinations, but with due regard for the policeman around the corner.

Once in a cafe he spoke to a waitress named Mildred; she refused to support the conversation, hitting his ego. Soon, Philip understands that he is in love, although he perfectly sees all its shortcomings: she is ugly, vulgar, her manners are full of hideous affections, her rude speech speaks of the paucity of thought. Nevertheless, Philip wants to receive it at any cost, up to the marriage, although he realizes that it will be a disaster for him. But Mildred claims to marry another, and Philip, realizing that the main cause of his torment is wounded vanity, despises himself no less than Mildred. But we need to live on: taking exams, meeting friends…

Acquaintance with a young pretty woman named Nora Nesbit – she is very nice, witty, can easily relate to life’s troubles – gives him faith in himself and heals mental wounds. Another friend, Philip finds, ill with the flu: he is carefully looked after by his neighbor, the doctor Griffiths.

But Mildred returns – having learned that she is pregnant, her betrothed has confessed that he is married. Philip leaves Nora and begins to help Mildred – so strong is his love. The newborn girl Mildred gives up for education, without feeling any feelings for her daughter, but falls in love with Griffiths and comes into contact with him. The insulted Philip nevertheless secretly hopes that Mildred will return to him again. Now he often remembers Hope: she loved him, and he acted wickedly with her. He wants to return to her, but finds out she is engaged. Soon it is rumored that Griffiths broke with Mildred: she quickly fed him.

Philip continues to study and work as an assistant in an outpatient clinic. Communicating with many different people, seeing their laughter and tears, grief and joy, happiness and despair, he realizes that life is more complex than abstract concepts of good and evil. In London comes Cronshaw, who finally was going to publish his poems. He is very sick: he suffered pneumonia, but, not wanting to listen to doctors, he continues to drink, for only after drinking, he becomes himself. Seeing the plight of an old friend, Philip carries him to himself; he soon dies. And again Philip oppresses the thought of the meaninglessness of his life, and the life rule invented under similar circumstances now seems stupid to him.

Philip draws closer to one of his patients, Thorp Atelney, and is very attached to him and his family: a hospitable wife, healthy gay children. Philip likes to visit them at home, bask at their cozy hearth. Atelni introduces him to the paintings of El Greco. Philip is shocked: he discovered that self-denial is no less passionate and determined than submission to passions.

Again meeting Mildred, who now makes a living by prostitution, Philip, out of pity, no longer feeling for her former feelings, invites her to settle with him as a servant. But she does not know how to run an economy and does not want to look for a job. In search of money, Philip starts to play on the stock exchange, and the first experience he manages so much that he can afford and operate on his injured leg and go with Mildred to the sea.

In Brighton, they live in separate rooms. Mildred is angry: she wants to convince everyone that Philip is her husband, and on his return to London tries to seduce him. But she can not do it – now Philip is physically disgusted to her, and she is angry, leaving a pogrom in his house and taking the child to whom Philip has become attached.

All the savings of Philip went to move from the apartment, which makes him heavy memories and besides too great for him alone. To somehow fix the situation, he again tries to play on the stock exchange and is ruined. Uncle denies his help, and Philip is forced to leave his studies, move out of the apartment, sleep on the street and starve. Learning about the plight of Philip, Atelney arranges him to work in the store.

The news of Hayward’s death makes Philip think again about the meaning of human life. He recalls the words of the deceased Cronshaw about the Persian carpet. Now he interprets them in this way: although a person tends the pattern of his life aimlessly, but, weaving different threads and creating a picture at his discretion, he must be satisfied with this. The uniqueness of the picture is its meaning. Then the last meeting with Mildred takes place. She writes that she is sick that her child is dead; In addition, after coming to her, Philip finds out that she has returned to her previous studies. After a painful scene, he goes away forever – this demon of his life finally dissipates.

After receiving his inheritance after the death of his uncle, Philip returns to college and, after graduating, works as an assistant with Dr. Saut, and so successfully that he offers Philip to become his companion. But Philip wants to go to travel, “in order to find the promised land and to know oneself.”

Meanwhile, the eldest daughter of Attelly, Sally, is very fond of Philip, and one day at a gathering of hops, he succumbs to his feelings… Sally reports that she is pregnant, and Philip decides to sacrifice himself and marry her. Then it turns out that Sally was mistaken, but Philip for some reason does not feel relieved. Suddenly he realizes that marriage is not self-sacrifice, that rejection of fictitious ideals for the sake of family happiness, if it is a defeat, is better than all victories… Philip asks Sally to become his wife. She agrees, and Philip Carey finally gains the promised land that his soul longed for.

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“The burden of human passions” Maugham in summary