Jude the Obscure Essay

1063 Words Jul 23rd, 2013 5 Pages
Jude the Obscure Theme Analysis of Marriage
Thomas Hardy, the author of Jude the Obscure, focuses on multiple themes throughout his book including social order and higher learning which is mainly seen in the first part of the book. Jude, a working class boy aiming to educate himself, dreams of a high level education at a university, but is pushed away by the cruel and rigid social order. In the second part of the book, Jude abandons his idea of entering Christminster and the focus shifts to Sue. The themes of love, marriage, freedom replace the earlier theme of education and idealism. Hardy pushes each of these themes to his audience and challenges everyday ideology by his audacious story about Jude Hawley.
Hardy begins an argument
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It had been no vestal who chose that missile for opening her attack on him," (27). A few chapters later, the reader is told, "he knew too well in the secret center of his brain that Arabella was not worth a great deal as a specimen of womankind," (39). Naïve and trusting, he does the honorable thing and marries her. But he has married the wrong woman, and the marriage is bound to be a disaster.
Sue's marriage to Phillotson is another example of a disastrous marriage of rashness and thoughtlessness. Jude suspects that Sue has married Phillotson as a reaction to his own marriage, a kind of retaliation, a way of "asserting her own independence from him," (129). She does not realize the enormity of the step she has taken, and after the ceremony, there is a "frightened look in her eyes," as if she has only just become aware of the rashness of her decision. Barely a month later she admits, "perhaps I ought not to have married" (142). Sue is the loudest critic of matrimony in the novel. She makes sarcastic comments on the custom of giving away the bride, "like a she-ass or she-goat or any other domestic animal" (126). When her marriage is in trouble, she criticizes the institution, explaining the difficulty she experiences fitting into the conventional mold which society demands. The nineteenth century tradition of the subjection of women to fathers and husbands is reflected in Gillingham's advice to Phillotson to

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