Jude the Obscure is Thomas Hardy’s last completed novel. The novel is an attack on the institution of marriage, sex and religion for which it was criticized by many of the critics.
The story of the novel revolves around Jude Fawley, a stonemason whose aim in life is to attend university and be like his teacher Mr.Phillotson. However both Jude and Phillotson diverted from their aim and got interested in love and marriage.
Jude married Arabella Donn and Phillotson married Sue Bridehead. Arabella left Jude and got a new husband in Australia. Sue left Phillotson and started to live with Jude. Then a lot of chaotic situation arises which led to the separation of Jude and Sue. Sue again returned to Phillotson and after Arabella’s husband died she remarried Jude. So many confusing relationships, right?
This novel is the finest of Hardy’s works. Here we find a transition in Hardy’s style from the pastoral setting to a restless world of cities and psychological insecurities. Hardy had a tendency of using the place Wessex in almost all his novels. Wessex is a fictional name of the real place Dorset. In Jude the Obscure, aunt Miss. Drusilla Fawley brought the orphan boy Jude from South Wessex to live with her after his parents died.
Jude, Sue and Phillotson all three aspired to gain knowledge and be successful. However, love and marriage came in their way which hindered their process of gaining knowledge. So here a question arises to our modern readers, Does love really spoils career?
Jude had a weakness for alcohol and women. And this weakness became Arabella’s strength. In the beginning, she made the foolish Jude belief that she is pregnant and forced him to marry her. In the end, also she made a fool out of him for which Jude had to marry her again. If Jude had used his brains then many of the situations would have never arisen in the novel. Arabella Donn is a perfect example of a selfish and emotionless woman.
What about Phillotson? When Sue decided to leave him and go to Jude, Phillotson freely allowed her to leave. And when she again returned leaving Jude he again accepted her. Maybe his love for Sue was true and he accepted all her flaws. Sounds like an ideal husband!
Father Time(son of Arabella and Jude) and other two children(of Jude and Sue) committed suicide. This is the crucial point in the novel. Before dying, Father Time wrote, “Done because we are too many”. Jude and Sue were already poor with three children and still another child was going to come. This episode brings the dark side of poverty and childbirth.
The story of the novel goes through various ups and downs. Besides all those dramas, unhappy marriages and social struggles, the novel actually shows the true love of Sue and Jude. But is that love truly ideal, which to satisfy their own desires destroys others around?
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