Tell me a novel which is better in craft and more in the terms of themes which lead to conflict and controversies within oneself and I will stop reading if you don’t say that is Jude the Obscure! Maybe Hardy had stopped writing after the flak he received for the portrayal of the characters in his last novel. Was the love illicit? Was that love a sin? Does religion stop us from loving each other in other than the permitted design? These are the questions that the novel asks and we look for the answers restlessly in the fiction and outside the text. Jude the Obscure is surely a masterpiece by Thomas Hardy and it proves the same by all means, in all the terms a novel could do it!
Our central character in the novel is Mr Jude Fawley and he is a stonemason. He is a perfect portrayal of the persons who were betrayed in the name of modernity and industrialism – the working class remained the working class and the aristocrats became the plutocrats. The dreams of persons like Jude remained dream only… and another central character in the novel is Sue Bridehead who is a cousin to Jude but they fall in love and remain together for a long period of time and have children too. Their relationship, however, isn’t accepted by the society and they have to wander here and there with all their dreams, aspirations and hopes and despair!
The novel portrays the conflicts which arise inside Sue when she has to go through the pain of her children’s death. She goes back to the Church once she disregarded and somehow, by some realisation or some misguided ways, Sue comes to realise that the death of her children is because of the divine wish – the divine which does not approve of the relationship between Jude and Sue because they are cousins and by the law, they can’t be together like husband and wife. And the readers and admirers of the book might ask – ultimately, is the divine also a textbook-law following body?
There were many critics of the novel Jude the Obscure who did not approve of the things Thomas Hardy has shown in the novel. There was so much so the criticism of the novel that Hardy perhaps was tired! And he did not write any novel after this. But, what can stop us now from enjoying the craft of the novel? What can stop us from reading the novel? What can stop us from praising the novel?
My personal opinion is that you should be reading this novel if you want to enjoy it. If you want to dive into the seriousness of an internal conflict, you have to read this novel!
Jude the Obscure - Novel
A Must Read novel by all the means!