More than once has this book been called Jude the Obscene rather than its original title. But hardly do you find any instances in the book that personify the banal expression. In fact Hardy was so affected by the criticism that he abandoned prose writing all together and concentrated only on poetry. In any case, that is hardly a point to ponder about. Jude the obscure takes you through the crests and troughs of the lives of the protagonists, Jude and Sussane.
Jude is an aspiring intellectual ,growing up and dreaming to study in colleges of Christminster. But his ambitions are thwarted by his relationship with women, first with Arabella, who makes him believe that she is pregnant with his child, and later Susanne, with whom he becomes instantaneously infatuated. Thence, Jude’s intellectual ambitions take a back seat and his relationship with the two women comes to the forefront. He often fights with his ego, with his self and his ethics. But all of them soon some up to nothing when his relationships become complex, all of them having either Susanne or Arabella as their common denominator. Soon enough catastrophe strikes, children are killed, relationships mingle with each other and Jude is thrown into an arcane of hopelessness.
Hardy, a connoisseur of human emotions, successfully builds up plots and subplots , and leaves you with a heavy heart on more than one occasion. The tragedy keeps on lingering in your mind long after the book is put down. Hardy builds his characters to perfection. You can almost empathise with Jude, you wholeheartedly begin to lambast the victorian dogmas, marriage,religion,education to name a few.
This is not a page turner by any measure of imagination but still I recommend you to pick it up to widen your perspective towards the multifarious flaws in the victorian society and to appreciate the sheer way in which Hardy’s characters come together to knit a haunting tale of love and life.
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