W. Somerset Maugham Explores The Different Meanings Of Success In The Razor’s Edge

1170 words - 5 pages

In The Razor’s Edge, W. Somerset Maugham explores the different meanings of success, through the conflicting ideals of his characters. The different interpretations of success are shown prominently through the views of Elliott Templeton and Laurence Darrell. Elliot for most of his life views success as becoming socially eminent and Larry believes success is happiness and the reaching of a state of enlightenment. The epigraph of The Razor’s Edge, “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard” (Katha-Upanishad as cited by Maugham) applies to both Larry and Elliott because both of them had to get over significant hurdles in their views in order to find peace within themselves. In my opinion, success is when a person feels a sense of accomplishment when they realize they have reached their goals in life.
In my opinion, Elliott Templeton has a thoroughly misguided view on the true meaning of success for the majority of his life, and this has resulted in his snobbish attitude towards the lower classes of society. Elliot’s views a successful person as someone who is a prominent social figure and well-acknowledged by others. Elliott’s narrow-minded views in life are apparent when in his frail condition, he shows little concern for his health and focuses on, “The best party of the season! If I were on my deathbed I’d get up for it. I’ve got the costume of my ancestor, the Count de Lauria, to wear” (Maugham 226), showing that social gatherings and his view on success mean more to him than his own life. Elliott holds the belief that even in Heaven there is, “…no doubt that I shall move in the best society in heaven…. It would be highly unsuitable to lodge the hoi polloi in a way to which they’re entirely unaccustomed” (Maugham 236), this belief shows Elliott‘s conceited views of his own importance and the inferiority of others. Towards the end of his life, Elliott does realize that his vision of success that he has had for the past several decades is wrong, “I’ve turned myself inside out them favors. And what have I got out of it? Nothing, nothing, nothing. There’s not one of them who cares if I live or die. Oh, it’s so cruel” (Maugham 227). The realization that despite all of his years of efforts he does not have any visitors spurs a change in his views on what a successful life is to an extent. The quote from Katha-Upanishad, applies to Elliott in this sense because in order to reach Salvation, Elliott must get over his strong views in his own superiority and realize that people are equals under God. Succeeding in realizing that one’s long held views are wrong is what makes “the path to Salvation hard”, for many individuals.
In my opinion, Larry Darrell’s definition of success is something every person can incorporate into their own aspirations in life. Larry thinks of success as reaching enlightenment and happiness through your decisions and actions in life. Larry...

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