Chapter One Introduction
1.1 William Somerset Maugham and Of Human Bondage
William Somerset Maugham(1874-1965)is an outstanding and prolific shortstory writer,playwright and novelist in Britain.He is popular and famous all over theworld,and his books are with high sales.The first novel Liza of Lambeth is widelyaccepted by readers,proving his writing talent.His famous novels include Of HumanBondage,The Moon and Sixpence,and The Painted Veil,which are popular andwidely read today.His story is based on the personality of the character that decideswhat happens in the story.Maugham attaches great importance to real life experiencesand creates stories based on them.Thus the blueprint he envisages for himself is to getinvolved in life,tasting the sweets and bitters and having experiences in differentstages in various circumstances.He aspires to fresh experiences,enjoys the freedomin travelling and writes stories based on what he sees and hears in his journey.
Speaking of the intention of creating Of Human Bondage,it is also closelyconnected with his life experiences.He is British,but he is not at ease in England,sohe spends most time in France.He enjoys the freedom in travelling,so he travels toGermany.The memories in the youth haunt over him,the death of his mom,experiences of being bullied at school due to his stammer,the excited time living inHeidelberg,and the experiences as a medical student,which becomes a burden in hismind.And in Maugham’s view,if a boy spends his childhood in one space,he haskeen observation of people around him,so his writing is convincing.Therefore,hecreates this semi-autobiographical novel in order to disengage himself from thosepainful memories.
1.2 The Significance of the Study
Scholars at home and abroad think highly of the novel since the publication of it,so there appear many studies about it.The abundant studies of the novel shows that itis such a novel with rich and profound meaning,so more studies of it can’t be toomuch.Each study may deepen the understanding of it and help readers to drawstrength from literature.This thesis tries to have a spatial study of the novel.Indeed,there are some spatial studies of the novel.For example,Zhang Lingping’s thesis“The Study on Space Narrative in Maugham’s Long‘Trilogy’”points out that thenovel presents“spatial characteristics”(Ⅳ).Her paper broadly explores theconstruction of foreign space,the western urban space construction,and the spatialnarrative structure and strategy of Maugham’s trilogy.However,we don’t have many spatial studies of the novel.This thesis attempts to interpret Of Human Bondage fromthe perspective of spatial criticism.
Man exists in space,and one’s growth needs space.As Ning Yunzhong says,“Human existence is in fact a process of reaction between human being itself and thesurrounding spatial environment”(51).Of Human Bondage tells Philip’s growth inthe social contact with different people in different space and explores human nature,freedom,and the meaning of life.The accumulation of colorful experiences,theformation of positive outlook and the epiphany on freedom and the meaning of lifemark the growth of Philip.Space plays a significant role in his growth.“The differentenvironment made him on a sudden see things differently”(Maugham 326).Philipattains his growth in space and tries to find out:“man’s relation to the world he livesin,man’s relation with the men among whom he lives,and finally man’s relation tohimself”(Maugham 333).The thematic interpretation of growth in this novel from theperspective of spatial criticism is an attempt to dig out the relationship between one’sgrowth and space,deepen the understanding of the theme of growth and inspirereaders to think about the influence of space on one’s growth.
Chapter Two Literature Review
2.1 Theoretical Foundation
“Spatial criticism”is a literary term that is put forward in the paper“SpatialCriticism:Critical Geography,Space,Place and Textuality”written by Philip E.Wegner(179).Spatial criticism is the discourse practice of space theory in the field ofliterary criticism appeared in the late 20th century.Henri Lefebvre’s space theoryplays an important role in spatial criticism.According to his theory,there are threedimensions of space.
2.1.1 Spatial Criticism
With the trend of spatial turn in western countries,literary criticism is greatlyinfluenced by space theories,regarding space as the object of the criticism.It mainlyexplores the geographical,social,and cultural attributes of the space.Space isregarded as a system of symbol and meaning,containing multi-level spatialconnotations
Traditionally,space is regarded as an empty container.It is fixed,static andunimportant.In literature,scholars give priority to time rather than space and regardspace as a stage or setting.In the second half of the 20th century,a remarkable spatialturn prevailed in the academic world.As Wegner points out,there is“an emerginginterdisciplinary formation centred on the problematics of space,place and culturalgeography”(180).Scholars in different fields transform their focus on space.Contributors to such spatial turn include social theorists like Foucault and HenriLefebvre;geographers David Harvey and Edward Soja;architects Bernard Tschumiand Manfredo Tafuri;anthropologists Paul Rabinow and James Clifford;philosophers Jacques Derrida and Giles Deleuze;art critics T.J.Clark and Victor Burgin;andliterary and cultural critics Raymond Williams and Edward Said.Space is regarded asboth a production and a force.It is a production that shaped through a various rangeof“social processes and human interventions”and“a force that,in turn,influences,directs and delimits possibilities of action and ways of human being in the world”(Wegner 181).The focus on the production of space enters into literary studies fromvarious perspectives such as Marxism,colonial and postcolonial studies,genderstudies and culture studies,etc,laying the foundation of spatial criticism.
2.2 Relevant Studies on Of Human Bondage at Home andAbroad
Of Human Bondage is a novel with rich and profound meaning.Scholars at homeand abroad think highly of the novel since the publication of it,so there appear many studies about it.
2.2.1 Studies on Of Human Bondage Abroad
Scholars in foreign countries study the novel from the perspective of theme,writing technique,the auto-biographical element,Bildungsroman,psychology,realism and naturalism and so forth.Critics speak highly of this novel.TheodoreDreiser,an outstanding American novelist,speaks highly of the novel and regards it asa great work.In his article“As a Realist Sees it,”Dreiser praises that the novel“islike a symphony of great beauty by a master,Strauss or Beethoven”(3).Gouldcomments that Of Human Bondage is a chronicle story in which“romance andrealism are mingled”(3).Archer Stanley introduces“thirty-three artists”named in thenovel in his paper“Artists and Paintings in Maugham’s Of Human Bondage”(181).Inthe paper“The Failures of the Romance:Boredom,Class,and Desire in GeorgeGissing’s The Odd Women and W.Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage,”LiseShapiro Sanders makes a comparative study between George Gissing’s The OddWomen and W.Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage from three aspects:boredom,class,and desire,figuring out those two novels’“fantasized romance plots”(193).In Anniken Telnes Iversen’s dissertation for the degree of PhD,“Change andContinuity:the Bildungsroman in English,”he points out that Philip,the protagonist,is“a typical bildungsroman hero”(166).Michelle Skeen’s thesis“A Schema-FocusedAnalysis of Philip Cagey in W.Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage”interpretsPhilip’s life experience from the perspective of psychology and studies how thecharacter promotes the understanding of the development of individual characteristicsof the human being(4).
Chapter Three Philip’s Growth in Physical Space...................................13
3.1 Attaining Colorful Life Experiences in Physical Space..................................13
3.1.1 Philip’s Restricted Life in Britain.................................13
3.1.2 Philip’s Academic Life in Germany................................17
Chapter Four Philip’s Growth in Social Space.................................24
4.1 Forming Positive Outlook in Social Space.....................................24
4.1.1 The Formation of Philip’s Outlook on Religion in the Religious Society.............24
4.1.2 The Formation of Philip’s Outlook on Career in Workplaces..............29
Chapter Five Philip’s Growth in Psychological Space............................41
5.1 Achieving Epiphany in Psychological Space....................................41
5.1.1 Philip’s Self-Awakening on True Freedom...........................................41
5.1.2 Philip’s Self-Awareness on the Meaning of Life..................................44
Chapter Five Philip’s Growth in Psychological Space
5.1 Achieving Epiphany in Psychological Space
Epiphany is a sudden spiritual manifestation in which one has a deepunderstanding of himself or the nature of something.In fact,epiphany is originally areligious term for manifesting God’s presence in the world.James Joyce adopted it toliterature to denote secular enlightenment in the everyday world.Generally,epiphanyis achieved through two ways.One is the spontaneous self-awakening through dailylife.The other is the perception triggered by shocking events.
5.1.1 Philip’s Self-Awakening on True Freedom
Pursuing freedom is the essence of human being.In Sartre’s opinion,“theultimate significance of men’s actions lies in the quest of freedom”(16).Philip ispursuing freedom in his life.He goes to different places and changes various careersjust for getting freedom.His pursuit for freedom is a process of breaking his externalbondage and internal bondage.Finally,he awakens what is true freedom.
On the one hand,Philip’s pursuit of freedom is a process of breaking externalbondage such as family and deformity.The process enables him to realize thatfreedom is based on free choices.
Chapter Six Conclusion
In summary,Philip’s growth is closely related to space.Philip achieves hisoverall growth in three dimensions of space.In physical space,Philip attains colorfullife experiences such as the restricted life in Britain,the academic life in Germany andthe bohemian life in France.Those experiences help him to learn the relationshipbetween man and the world.In social space such as the religious life,workingpractices and love relationships,Philip forms his outlook on religion,career and love.In the process of forming his outlook,Philip understands the relationship betweenman and the society.In psychological space,Philip thinks about true freedom andexplores the meaning of life.In his philosophical thinking and exploration,heachieves epiphany and comprehends the relationship between man and self.WhenPhilip attains colorful life experiences,forms positive outlook,achieves epiphany andunderstands the relationship between man and the world,between man and the societyand between man and self,he grows up.