Jude The Obscure, an almost unbearably sad story about love and sexual desire mapped into the peculiar English matrixes of class and destiny in the Victorian 19th century, has come to be recognized as one of Hardy's most important novels. It tells the tragic story of Jude Fawley, a kid from the country whose aspirations to university scholarship are thwarted; his socially unacceptable love affair is also a disaster.
This is a great novel written by Thomas Hardy. Jude Fawley is an orphan boy, fostered by his Aunt. Disqualified from university because he belongs to a poor family, he tries to survive but fails in both love and education. Jude is confused between sensual love, which is represented by Arabella, and spiritual love, represented by Sue Bridehead.--Submitted by fahim.
This intensely bleak novel contains themes already explored in Hardy's previous novels: social injustice, the position of women in Victorian society, the hypocrisy of religion and the invalidity of existing societal mores. However, the over-arching theme of the novel is the human condition, which Hardy believes is inescapable and inevitable.In his later novels Hardy not only denies the presence of God, but seems to see the world as being ruled by a malevolent deity. His atheism precurses the twentieth century novels of James Joyce and D H Laurence. A recurrent theme is that of the uselessness of trying to atone for previous "mistakes": Fate will always prevail and no benificent God will offer forgiveness. This is true of Sue in "Jude" who feels that by flouting contemporary values she has defied God, who is now punishing her. Fate also traps Henchard (Mayor of Casterbridge), and Tess (Tess of the D'Urbervilles), whose dark ending makes explicit man's vulnerability to extenal dark forces. I have mentioned these other two novels because they have elements in common with "Jude". Hardy depicts the world as he sees it, dark and bleak where escape from one's Fate is impossible, and to paraphrase Elizabeth (Major of Casterbridge), happiness is merely a short interlude in a malevolent world turbulence. My introducion is designed to set "Jude" in context and encourage exploration of links with Hardy's other great novels.--Submitted by Jill Giannotta
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