Jude the Obscure
Thomas Hardy’s last novel, Jude the Obscure ,
his most thought provoking work, a fact which corresponds with the
seriousness and depth with which Hardy explores and gropes with the very
foundation and framework of human life in a world that insists on
playing a heavy handed, and to great extent destructive, role in the
manipulation of the individual’s destiny.
What aggravates the dilemma of human life in Jude the obscure is that
Hardy substitutes a turbulent and disconnected setting for his
traditionally stable agriculture and rural one.
This change has a profound effect on the psychology of the characters of the novel.
Richard Carpenter refers to this new atmosphere which penetrates in
to the felling of the characters when he states that in Jude the
Hardy turns away from agricultural setting and pastoral myth to restless world of cities and psychological insecurities.
The sense of psychological insecurity which the major characters
suffer takes deeper roots due to the fact that customs and conventions
sanctioned by society are being questioned and even challenged by these
In the study of Thomas Hardy, Lawrence indicates that the characters
of Hardy’s novel are shown to be struggling hard to come into being.
Lawrence’s statement applies perfectly well to the
major characters of Jude the obscure, and this in turn makes meaningful
their questioning and challenging of the norms of their society.
In other words These characters in their attempt to come to
themselves, find out that they are hampered by fixed social norms, which
they try to fight off.
The peculiar strength of this struggle makes them the most
unconventional of all Hardy`s characters, and explains why Hardy once
intended to call this novel the Recalcitrant s .
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