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Philip Carey, a young man sensitive about his clubfoot, arrives in Edwardian London to study medicine after 2 years of failure as an artist in Paris. He becomes friendly with fellow students Griffiths and Mathews and falls in love with Mildred, a Cockney waitress who is impressed by his social superiority. Philip proposes to Mildred, but she announces her intention to marry a man named Miller. Soon thereafter, Philip accompanies Griffiths to a party and meets Norah, a widow, who returns his attentions. Under Norah's influence, Philip becomes successful in his studies, but soon Mildred, pregnant, unmarried, and deserted by Miller, returns. Philip forgets about Norah and takes Mildred in until her baby arrives. After the birth, Philip, Mildred, and Griffiths celebrate, but Mildred begins a flirtation with Griffiths. She and Philip quarrel when she shows him Griffiths' love letters; and, after telling Philip that his crippled foot has always revolted her and that her only interest in him was financial, Mildred leaves. Philip passes his final examinations and, during his internship, becomes friendly with Thorpe Athelny, a patient, and his daughter Sally. Philip learns that Mildred has become a prostitute, and he takes her, now a travesty of her former self, and her baby out of the brothel where they live and installs them in his flat. Finding she can no longer interest Philip, Mildred destroys everything valuable in the apartment and leaves again. She returns to prostitution; her baby dies; and she is admitted to the hospital where Philip works. It is discovered that she is incurably ill with syphilis. She dies in Philip's arms after asking for a proper funeral. Philip buries her in the style she wished and, despondent, decides to return to his artist's studio in Paris. But as his boat-train leaves the station, he looks up to find Sally standing over him.