Jude, The Obscure
Monday, March 14, 2011Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
Jude The Obscure
by Thomas Hardy
As a young boy, Jude Fawley reads everything he can get his hands on and dreams of going to college. He’s an orphan living in the English countryside yearning to move to Christminster (based on Oxford). When he finally gets the opportunity to begin to make his way in the world he meets a saucy milkmaid, Arabella, and is lured away from his goals.
Jude’s true love is his cousin Sue Bridehead, who shares his passion for intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately their timing always seems off. When he’s tied to Arabella, Sue is free and when he’s free, Sue is tied to a school teacher named Phillotson.
Jude is such a tragic character. His every effort to attain a happy life seems to be thwarted by things that are out of his control. The tragedy seems unavoidable even when you’re hoping the characters make different decisions. Without Hardy’s beautiful writing this book would be unreadable because it’s so depressing, but he makes it enthralling.
HOLY DARK TWIST BATMAN! Little Father Time, Jude’s son, had some serious issues and obviously he had a rough childhood, but still, I was not expecting him to murder his half siblings and hang himself. I mean geez! That is some dark, dark stuff.
In some ways it reminded me of a more likeable version of Wuthering Heights. The same premise of two souls made of the same stuff, but both ill-matched in marriages and kept apart. Only in Jude there’s no crazy, selfish character and in Wuthering Heights there’s less religion.
One of the novel’s main themes is marriage. The characters are constantly at odds with the union, which surprised me because it was published in 1895. I’m sure the book caused quite a stir when it first came out.
This was my first foray into Thomas Hardy and from what I’ve heard his other books have similar themes. This one was hard to rate, because though I loved the writing, the story leaves you aching for Jude and wishing you could have made his life better. So it’s not a book I feel like I loved. I will definitely read more of his work, (I’ve got Tess of the D’Ubervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd on my TBR list), but I may have to wait a bit before diving into another heartbreaker.
Here’s another wonderful review at Subtle Melodrama.
I read this review for the Victorian Literature Challenge here.