“Only a wall divided him from those happy young contemporaries of his with whom he shared a common mental life; men who had nothing to do from morning till night but to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Only a wall โ€“ but what a wall!”

Jude the Obscure
Jude the Obscure |Thomas Hardy |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review | Victorian Novel
Cover Page of ‘Jude the Obscure’

‘Jude the Obscure’ is a novel ๐Ÿ“– written by Thomas Hardy which first appeared in a serialised manner in the Harper’s New Monthly Magazine ๐Ÿ“‘ from December 1894 to November 1894 ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ. ‘Jude the Obscure’ is Hardy’s last completed novel ๐Ÿ“™ and it first appeared in the form of a book in 1896. ‘Jude the Obscure’ is set in Hardy’s fictional land called Wessex ๐Ÿž๏ธ and deals with the life of Jude, a working-class boy who yearns to become a scholar.

Jude Fawley: The Protagonist of ‘Jude the Obscure’

The novel ‘Jude the Obscure’ begins when Jude Fawley is 11 years old ๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿป. He aspires to become a scholar ๐Ÿ“š just as his teacher ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป Mr. Richard Phillotson. His teacher has left Marygreen to take a university degree. Jude works hard ๐Ÿ’ช and has started to earn in order to support himself ๐Ÿ’ถ during his days at the university at Christminster ๐ŸŽ“. He helps his great-aunt, Drusilla Fawley at her bakery ๐Ÿž๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฅฎ and has also learnt the craft of ecclesiastical stonework ๐Ÿ”จ.

Jude โค๏ธ Arabella

Between these preparations to take a degree ๐ŸŽ“, he meets Arabella Donn. Arabella being a sensually attractive woman ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป, Jude gets attracted to ๐Ÿ˜ her. But she tricks him saying that she has got pregnant ๐Ÿคฐ and forces to him marry her. Jude, in order to save his honor ๐Ÿ˜”, accepts to marry her. But later, they breakup ๐Ÿ’” and she joins her family in Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ.

To Christminster ๐ŸŽ“

Jude the Obscure |Thomas Hardy |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Christminster of ‘Jude the Obscure’

Jude leaves for Christminster to pursue his studies ๐Ÿ“’. But his heart โ™ฅ flungs as he meets his Sue Bridehead ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. He falls in love ๐Ÿฅฐ with her but she doesn’t respond ๐Ÿค. Jude also feels guilty ๐Ÿ˜’ as he is still married to Arabella. Moreover, he drowns in despair โ˜น๏ธ when he comes to know Mr. Phillotson, his teacher under whom Sue is working. He decides not to give up on ๐Ÿ™‚ his dream to become a scholar ๐Ÿ““ and stays there to climb up the ladders of his dream.

Studies Theology

You prove it in your own person. You are one of the very men Christminster was intended for when the colleges were founded; a man with a passion for learning, but no money, or opportunities, or friends. But you were elbowed off the pavement by the millionairesโ€™ sons.

Sue Bridehead
Jude the Obscure |Thomas Hardy |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Sue Bridehead of ‘Jude the Obscure’

Jude decides to pursue theological โœ๏ธ studies and enter the church โ›ช. Sue plans to marry ๐Ÿ’’ Phillotson after she finishes her studies at the training college but unfortunately ๐Ÿ˜ฏ she is caught by the college authorities for staying out with Jude all night ๐ŸŒƒ. She flees ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ from there as she is ordered to punish. Jude cannot untangle her character ๐Ÿคจ but the only thing he understands is that they are at two distant poles ๐Ÿ˜‘. Their ideas and feelings are different.


“Crime! Pooh. They don’t think much of such as that over there! Lots of ’em do itโ€ฆ Well, if you take it like that I shall go back to him! He was very fond of me, and we lived honourable enough, and as respectable as any married couple in the colony!”

Jude the Obscure|Arabella Donn, Page 185

Sue shares the news ๐Ÿ“œ of her marriage with Phillotson to Jude. Jude had already admitted ๐Ÿ˜ถ that he had got married to Arabella. Arabella visits him, spends a night ๐ŸŒƒ with him after which he learns that she is married to another man ๐Ÿคจ from Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ. Jude meets Sue after her marriage where she says that she felt not get married ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. Jude then promises ๐Ÿค to visit her frequently. His knowledge in theology and his attempts to discipline under the conventions of Church goes in vain ๐Ÿ˜ž when his heart desires for love ๐Ÿฅฐ.

Jude Burns his Books ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Jude travels ๐Ÿš‚ to Marygreen for his great-aunt’s funeral. โšฐ๏ธ. Sue too attends the funeral and says of the troubles ๐Ÿ˜ฃ that faces in her marriage with Phillotson. She admits that she is unwilling to have a sexual relationship ๐Ÿ’ with Phillotson. Sue and Jude kiss ๐Ÿ˜˜. Sue leaves for Shaston and Jude burns ๐Ÿ”ฅ his theological books ๐Ÿ“š realising that he can no longer be under the restrictions of the church โ›ช and become a preacher to profess religion โœ๏ธ.

Sue ๐Ÿ’” Phillotson

Phillotson is forced ๐Ÿ˜ถ to free Sue as she expresses her contempt ๐Ÿ˜ฌ to him. He leaves her knowing that she is in love ๐Ÿ’• with Jude. Phillotson is also in despair โ˜น๏ธ but gives her a divorce ๐Ÿ“„ to ensure her complete freedom ๐Ÿ•Š๏ธ. Phillotson is also expelled ๐Ÿ˜ž from his job at Shaston. While Jude and Sue moves to Aldbrickham, live loving each other ๐Ÿ˜ but she still refuses ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ to give her consent for sex.

Jude the Obscure |Thomas Hardy |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Sue and Jude from the novel ‘Jude the Obscure’

Little Father Time ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿป

Jude the Obscure |Thomas Hardy |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Arabella and Little Father Time of ‘Jude the Obscure’

Jude and Sue have lived together ๐Ÿ’ for an year in Aldbrickham. But they haven’t got married officially ๐Ÿ“ƒ nor had any physical relationship ๐Ÿ’‹. They are living together for an year breaking โŒ all the conventional norms of the Church. Sue then permits ๐Ÿ˜Œ Jude for intimacy when Arabella arrives for the second time and tries to have a hold on him ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. Arabella marries her Australian husband Cartlett but leaves Little Father Time ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿป, the son of Jude and Arabella under his custody.

Jude’s Family ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ

Jude the Obscure |Thomas Hardy |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Jude’s Family in the novel ‘Jude the Obscure’

Jude and Sue has enlarged their family with two children ๐Ÿง’๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿป and another one is one its way ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿปโ€ฆ But they have lost their reputation and honor ๐Ÿ˜• in Aldbrickham as they have lived out of wedlock ๐Ÿ˜” even after giving birth to their children. They move from one city ๐ŸšŠ and another and Jude keeps on shifting his work place โš’ too. Jude now tries to practice any profession ๐Ÿงฐ other than the ecclesiastical stonework โš™๏ธ.

Arabella Hangs on Jude

Arabella who has come to Kennetbridge after her husband’s death โšฐ๏ธ, comes to see Jude and she wishes to renew their ๐Ÿ˜. She also goes to visit Phillotson who has then settled in Marygreen to question ๐Ÿ™‹ him for letting his wife free ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ to live with Jude. Jude being ill is ๐Ÿค• unable to work regularly. He wishes to go back ๐Ÿ˜” to Christminster.

Deaths ๐Ÿ‘ป

“Even were he free, in a family like his own where marriage usually meant a tragic sadness, marriage with a blood-relation would duplicate the adverse conditions, and a tragic sadness might be intensified to a tragic horror”.

Jude the Obscure|Narrator, Page 93

Jude returns to Christminster and memories rewind โช him to his days and reminds him of why he came to this place for the first time โ˜บ๏ธ. He delivers a speech to the people surrounded there of what this place meant to them ๐Ÿ˜Œ and how life took him away from his dreams ๐Ÿ˜”. This speech of desperation triggers Little Father Time ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿป that leads him to hang his half-siblings and finally himself ๐Ÿ™„.

The Reversal

“I see marriage differently now. My babies have been taken from me to show me this! Arabella’s child killing mine was a judgementโ€”the right slaying the wrong. What, shall I do! I am such a vile creatureโ€”too worthless to mix with ordinary human beings!”

Jude the Obscure|Sue Bridehead, Pages 344-345

The novel ‘Jude the Obsure’ ๐Ÿ“– which has started with the break the law rule by Sue reverses โ†”๏ธ as both Jude and Sue witnesses ๐Ÿ˜ณ the deaths of their children. The child that Sue carries ๐Ÿคฑ is born still which makes her believe that she is being punished for committing sins ๐Ÿ˜ฉ. When Sue becomes religious โœ๏ธ, Jude opts secularism ๐Ÿ”†. Sue, who now believes in the rules of the religious institution decides to return to Phillotson after the reception of a letter โœ‰๏ธ from him asking her to join him. But she accepts it as a punishment ๐Ÿ˜, not as a form of love.

‘Jude the Obscure’: The End

“We’ve both remarried out of our senses. I was made drunk to do it. You were the same. I was gin-drunk; you were creed-drunk. Either form of intoxication takes away the nobler visionโ€ฆ Let us then shake off our mistakes, and run away together!”

Jude the Obscure|Jude Fawley, Page 385

Sue returns to Phillotson and remarries ๐Ÿ’ him. Arabella reaches out for Jude and her consistent persuasion forces ๐Ÿ˜” Jude to marry her again. But still, Jude and Sue love each other. Jude visits Sue frequently despite his illness ๐Ÿค• and speaks of their love for each other. Jude then learns that Sue has surrendered to Phillotson as a punishment which breaks his heart ๐Ÿ˜ต. Jude dies โ˜ ๏ธ the following year when Arabella is out enjoying in the festivities ๐ŸŽ‰. It is only Arabella and Mrs. Edlin, a friend of Jude who is present beside his coffin โšฐ๏ธ.

The Plot of ‘Jude the Obscure’

It is said that the plot of ‘Jude the Obscure’ is inspired from the scholastic failure ๐Ÿ’น followed by the suicide ๐Ÿ™„ of his friend Horace Moule. Jude the Obscure first published in a serialised manner under the title The Simpletons and later Hearts Insurgent. It details the hardships of the working class people to afford education ๐Ÿ’ฐ it has bits of his own life, his difficulties to attend the university.

‘Jude the Obscure’: The Voice of the Suppressed ๐Ÿ”ฆ

‘Jude the Obscure’ is a novel ๐Ÿ“– that criticises the Victorian society that gave prominence to the conventional norms ๐Ÿ—‚๏ธ supporting the institution of marriage. This society also experienced sexual repression ๐Ÿ˜ฃ where the matters of sex was considered not to be spoken in public or not even a matter to speak of ๐Ÿคซ. Hardy’s voice ๐Ÿ”Š went against these rules to break those โœ‚๏ธ norms and treated matters of sex, issues of class, morality and marriage. Here too, in ‘Jude the Obscure’, Hardy brings Jude and Sue living out of wedlock and having ๐Ÿง’๐Ÿผ, which is against ๐Ÿ’โ€โ™€๏ธ the social norms.

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