The novel's title was chosen over "The Simpletons" and several others. What associations would "Jude the Obscure" have had for Hardy's audience? To which aspects of the book does it draw attention?
Why may the novel have been divided into six "parts"?
According to Hardy's first preface, what were his aims? (5) Do you believe that he has achieved these?
In his second preface, how does he respond to critics? Do any introduce responses with which you agree?
What are some features of Hardy’s style? The narrative tone? The use of diction, pace of sentences, choice of images and descriptions? What kinds of intrusions are made by the narrator?
What do we learn about the schoolmaster from the opening chapter?
What do we learn about Jude’s character and situation? What are some of the roles literature will play in his life?
What is significant about the physical environment of Marygreen?
What will be ironic about Phillotson's casual invitation to Jude to seek him out in Christminster?
How do the descriptions of the chapter reflect Hardy's views on historic preservation?
What is Jude’s family situation? What is his aunt's character and behavior toward him? What hints do we glean about his family and past in this chapter?
On what kinds of general principles does he reflect?
In what contexts is his past history evoked?
How do we hear of Sue Bridehead?
How is past history evoked in the narrator's description of the landscape?
How is his character shown in his behavior to the birds he is hired to scare off the farm?
What does Jude come to feel is a defect in the nature of things? (17) Would this have reflected nineteenth-century scientific ideas?
What is the symbolic function of Jude’s view of Christminster? (a religious vision) What are aspects of its description? (beautiful description, 19, constant biblical echoes, 20)
What purpose is served by his interview with the carters? What does he hear of Christminster by the man who has never been there?
What means does Jude resort to to obtain classical grammars? What in them brings him disappointment? (26) Does he persist?
What absence does the narrator observe as Jude sits grieving over his disappointment? (noone comes to cheer him, 27)
What kind of scholar does Jude become? (concerned with spirit of original, turns to religious works)
How does he decide on his life occupation? (30)
On what is Jude meditating when he encounters Arabella? What is the sexual symbolism of her advances, and why does he respond?
How is she described? Are there elements of her appearance which fit her character? Would this have reflected "scientific" views of the time?
What emotions does Jude feel at the prospect of their meeting?
How does the reader know that Arabella is not honest?
Why is Jude attracted to her? Does the narrator believe he is responsible for his attraction? (37) Do you agree? What seems to be Hardy's view of the ability to control sexual instinct?
What do we learn about Arabella from their first outing together? In what ways is Jude the victim of entrapment? How do Jude and Arabella differ in their responses toward each other?
What devices does she use to entice Jude into bed?
How does Arabella deceive Jude into marriage? Had she been advised to feign pregnancy? (50) Is it an extenuating circumstance that others prompt her?
In what other ways is Arabella deceitful? (feigned dimples, 51)
What views does Jude/Hardy give on marriage? (52) Do his remonstrances ignore any aspect of social responsibility? (need to provide parental stability for children, etc.)
What is the significance of the pig-killing scene? To what level has their marriage descended? (the killing of pig an image of the end of marriage--sacrificial)
How does the pig react to being slaughtered?
What are Jude's attitudes toward the killing of animals? Are there any social movements of his time which embodied similar views?
What seems to be Arabella’s motive in attempting to precipitate violence? What effect on the reader does this scene have?
What does Jude learn from his aunt about his parents? What are her opinions on the suitability of the Frawleys for marriage?
What self-destructive action does he attempt, and how does he interpret its failure?
What radical decision does Arabella make? How is the marriage finally dissolved? Do they quarrel over possessions?
What associations would Australia have had for Hardy's audience? What final act of callousness breaks his emotional tie with her? (sale of his picture, 61) After buying it, what does he do with the picture?
What new resolve does he take at the end of the book? What geographical positioning suggests the cyclical nature of human experience? (61)
What expectations have been set up so far?
Part Second: At Christminster
What kind of reception does Christminster give him? (63)
What are his responses and reactions to the city? (64, 65 isolation) How is Christminster different by night and day? (65)
What elements and historical events does he mention from Christminster's (Oxford's) past?
What seems indicated by the fact that he sends for Sue's picture? (63) Why do you think his great-aunt is willing to send it, though she had not given it to him before his departure?
How is Christminster described? (in disrepair, 68; poetical, 69; separated from scholars, 70)
What is the significance of the fact that neo-Victorian Gothic architecture is passing from fashion? (69)
What is shown by Jude's kissing of Sue's photograph? Is there irony to his aunt's criticism of her propriety?
Are there other ironic elements of his view of her? (his first sight of her and her responses are ironic, 72, 74, view of her in church, 75)
How is Sue described? (73) How is she contrasted with Arabella?
What do we learn about Sue from her purchase of the statues and her covering of them? (wraps and conceals them-strange night scene; her love for the classical is seen as an identification with sexual directness of ancient culture) May this scene foreshadow later events?
What contrasts are apparent in Jude's reading and response to classical texts and contemporary works of literature? (78-79)
How does Sue first address Jude? (81, letter, desires to have nice times with him)
What is revealed about her character in their first meeting? (82, dislikes the cross!) What seems to be her attitude toward Jude? Why does Sue wish to change her occupation?
What disappointments does he suffer on meeting his old schoolmaster? (has forgotten Jude, has failed to acquire degree) Are these expressed?
For what job does he recommend Sue, and with what motives (85) Has Sue expressed enthusiasm about teaching? What will be some consequences of this action?
How does Sue behave at the exhibition of Jerusalem, and what is the significance of the scene? What do you think of her manner toward her cousin? (assumes a psychic bond before actually knowing him, 87)
At this point, Phillotson begins to court Sue. Is he a likely suitor by Victorian standards?
What does Jude learn from his aunt's friend about Sue's childhood, and what does the anecdote about the slide reveal about her character? (91)
Why cannot Jude attend Christminster? (94) What does Hardy think of the justice of his exclusion? What social attitudes are implied in the letter of rejection sent by the Master? (95, biblical response, 97)
What episode causes Jude to leave Christminster, and why is his leavetaking symbolic? Why do you think Jude has no other human ties? (no male friends, dependent on Sue)
Part Three: At Melchester
III-1 Jude moves to Melchester to be near Sue. Does this choice seem to make conflict inevitable? (inevitable fatality)
How do you account for the frequent gloomy consequences of sexual relations in fiction toward the close of the century? (a reflection of the novel's focus on more ordinary lives and rising expectations? end-of-century determinism? the view that human fate is a result of inherent biological drives and irrational cravings, and the overintricate psychology of human beings? Certainly this is a not much more cheerful doctrine than original sin had been).
Under what circumstances does Sue announce her engagement? (urgently invites him to meet her, holds his hand, 107, 108) How do you judge her treatment of him? (coy and petulant).
What activities does Jude engage in to distract himself? (reads religious books, practices chants)
What qualities in Sue seem to attract Jude? (possibly even attracted to her distaste for consistency and her emotional unresponsiveness, for he seems to pity these things rather than turn away from her)
What occurs on their expedition into the country? (forced to sleep overnight, she gives him her picture, thus symbolically reinforcing tie). How does this episode resemble other moments in their relationship? (situation suggests but fails to confirm intimacy)
What confines Sue to her room, and why does she escape? (115) What is the gist of her remarks on the "weaker sex"? (112) What seems the significance of the narratator's allusion to her "slightly independent tones"?
What are some connotations of her wearing of Jude's clothes? (sense of daring and unconvention, also of intimacy)
III-4 What do you make of Sue's conversation? On what subjects does it turn? (118, on herself and her distain for sex) Are these appropriate subjects for discussion with a married man?
What do you make of her description of her past relationship with an undergraduate?
Does her conversation shift in tone? (119, 120) What are some of her ideas? (120-22, plays him against others) What are her goals? (wishes "to ennoble some man to higher aims"-Is this a common Victorian ideal for women? What are its limitations? Surely he can make up his own mind on religion)
What are Sue's comments on Phillotson? (124, changes mind) Who first mentions love? (124, Sue)
What do you think are Sue's motives in sending her letter to Jude? (exaggerates, plays on his emotions, 125)
Does Hardy intend to present a favorable portrait of her? (125)
--she is genuinely flirtations in a devious way-dismisses Phillotson, 124.
--alludes to marriage, 126, blames Jude for his love!
--sends letter, teases with allusions to Phillotson, 127, keeps describing his love, 126
--enjoys constant game playing, yet another letter, 127
How is Phillotson described? (128-29, resembles Jude, rather sympathetically portrayed)
Does Jude give Sue a good account of his past? (no-never explains the horror of his marriage)
What is Sue's response? (clearly jealous, 133) On what grounds does Hardy find Sue's responses defensible? (narrowly womanly humors necessary to her sex, 134)
What are painful features of Sue's wedding to Phillotson? What are some of Jude's/Hardy's reflections on women? (140)
What kind of farewell do Sue and Jude have? (plays on his emotions, 139, emotion-fraught farewell, 140)
In what hope does Jude remain at Christminster after Sue has left on her wedding trip? (140-41) Is there any rationality to his hope that she may return?
Why does the thought of Sue’s potential children bring him no satisfaction? Why does the narrator gloss this as recognition of “the scorn of Nature for man’s finer emotions”? (141)
What emotion causes him to enter a tavern? Is his behavior made more understandable by the fact that he is invited to drink by a friend?
Whom does he meet? Does he avoid an encounter? What does he propose that they do, and how does she respond? (145-46)
Why doesn’t he ask her for a divorce? What prompts Arabella to suggest their reunion? What prompts Jude to sleep with her? (seems to feel she is fated to be his wife) Does this make sense in view of his earlier expressed attitudes toward her?
What new information does Arabella give Jude, and how does he respond? (she has married “legally” in Australia, 148)
What reaction does Jude feel at the memory of his act of the preceding night? (feels accurst, 148)
What interpretation does the narrator seem to place on Jude’s constant shifts, and his choice of sexual partner?
Whom does he meet, and what reason does she give for having returned to seek him in Christminster? (149)
Do you think Sue has been entirely motivated for concern for his welfare and potential gloom?
Is it conventional that Jude repeatedly addresses Sue as “dear”?
How is Sue’s appearance contrasted with Arabella’s? (small-breasted in contrast to Arabella’s “amplitudes”)
How does Sue describe her 46 year old husband? (“elderly,” 151)
Who greets Sue on their arrival at Marygreen? What reaction to the news of Sue’s marriage does she express? Would it seem conventional to insult someone’s new husband as a bad choice? (152)
What private emotion regarding her marriage does Sue confess to Jude? (doesn’t like Phillotson, 152)
What does she prohibit Jude to do? (visit)
At this juncture, what news does he hear from Arabella? (has joined her Australian husband in running a bar) Why doesn’t Jude seek a divorce?
What prompts Jude to live at Shaston? Does the desire to live near Sue bode well for their future separation?
What song seems to reflect Jude’s emotional state, and what does he learn on visiting its composer?
When Sue invites him to visit the day on which he has been absent, what is Jude’s response? (“almost tore his hair,” 156) What does Sue indicate has caused her to change her mind? (has been too conventional)
Does this see propitious for their future restraint?
What role do letters play throughout the narrative?
Book 4, Chapter 1
With what ancient monuments is Shaston associated? Who meets him as he waits in the schoolroom? Why does Sue serve him tea there instead of in her home? (dislikes her house, 160)
Does the narrator agree with her view of her home?
What information does Jude seek from Sue, and does this seem symbolic? (edition of apocryphal gospels)
Of what does he accuse her, and how does she respond? (of flirting, she becomes incensed, 161) Is his charge just?
To what confession does this prompt her, and under what conditions? (speaks to him from window after he has left, blames social conventions for her marriage, 162-63)
Do you agree that social conventions are entirely to blame for her marriage?
What does Jude observe as he leaves? (Sue is tearful) Is it appropriate for him to be watching her house unobserved?
How does Hardy view Jude’s determination to see Sue? (“human more powerful in him than the Divine,” 164)
Jude believes he cannot live up to the ideals of the Church fathers—would he also be judged by a lower standard?
What letters do the two exchange, and with what submerged emotions? (Jude says he supposes that he ought to learn a less at this season, not that he ought to, 164)
What event brings Sue and Jude together again? What private information does Sue again impart about her marriage? (her marriage physically repellent to her, 166)
What can have been her motive for such a revelation, and to him?
What excuse does she give for this confession? (marriage a matter of property laws, etc., 166)
Would these be the views of a “new woman”? What did women reformers of the period advocate, and would their proposed reforms have helped Sue? (wished possibility of divorce—though this would have helped both Sue and Jude, neither seems to seek divorce and remarriage)
What does Jude regret he had not tried to do? (interfere in her marriage) Is there any indication that he could have done so successfully?
What does Sue threaten to do? (tell her husband that they have been holding hands, 167) Would this have been a kindness to Phillotson?
What news does Jude tell Sue, and does he give her a full account of his relationship to Arabella? (suggests he will live with Arabella, when there is no possibility of this, 167) Why do you think he claims a (then) non-existent relationship?
What is her response? Why does she choose this occasion to report even more explicitly her distaste for marital relationships? What does she blame? (her husband’s greater age, 168)
What is Jude’s response to all this? (undivided sympathy, 168)
What does Sue report of Phillotson’s behavior to her? (always thoughtful, hurt by her coldness) Do either Jude or Sue consider Phillotson’s feelings in recognizing his wife’s dislike?
Whom does he encounter as he attempts to put a trapped rabbit out of its misery?
What forms the topic of their discussion as she speaks to him from the window, and how do they part? (she has married in ignorance and feels marriage is a barbarous custom, 170; she kisses him)
Is it true that Christianity regarded sexual love as at worst a frailty? (171, not entirely, is seen as sacred and desirable in marriage)
On what change in his occupational goals does Jude decide? Does he seem a likely clergyman in any case?
Are there any other occupations besides stone mason or clergyman to which he could have aspired?
Why does Jude consider that it is the “artificial system of society” which has turned his normal sex-impulses into devilish domestic gins and syringes”? (171-72) Are there aspects of marriage which this ignores?
How does Sue behave on her return home? (hides in closet, 175) How does Phillotson react? What account does she give of her marriage, and how does she describe herself? (peculiar in character)
On what grounds does Phillotson attempt to persuade her to live with him? (her reaction hurts him, 174)
What would be the consequences to him of his wife’s desertion without a divorce? (he could never remarry)
What does Sue tell her husband she wishes to do? How does she defend her choice? (attacks marriage, wishes a “low” choice, 178) Is this a view to which she will hold?
Would this seem a tactful topic to bring up at the time? What do you make of the claim that she wouldn’t live as a partner with Jude? Has she consulted him?
Why do you think Hardy presents their negotiations through a series of letters?
Has Phillotson behaved well in this situation? Are they able to live apart in peace, and if not, why not? (Sue seems agitated)
Does it affect the reader’s sympathies that Jude Fawley is referred to by his first name but Richard Phillotson is “Phillotson”?
To what does Phillotson agree, and on what terms? (that she live with her cousin, but not tell Phillotson of her movements)
Whom does he visit to report his situation? What has he decided about the nature of marriage, and his obligation to Sue? (sees no reason why he shouldn’t permit her to join her cousin, with whom she has an affinity)
What does Gillingham think of Phillotson’s reactions, and what does he advise? Why do you think this conversation is included? (Gillingham represents society; even Phillotson finds their union to be destined)
How does Sue respond to Phillotson as she bids him farewell? (reminds him that she doesn’t love him!)
What final of renunciation does Phillotson perform, and what does this indicate? (locks up Sue’s clothes and belongings, expects her never to return)
What does Sue announce when she meets Jude? What reason does she give for living apart from him? (lingering respect for her marriage)
What are the contents of the letter Phillotson has sent Jude? Does this reflect well on him? How do Sue and Jude react? (had he been unkinder, they would have felt more justified!)
What does Sue state are her feelings for Jude, and what does she demand? (that he abide by her feelings in rejecting sex, 190)
Which of Jude’s statements upsets her to tears? (that she had led Phillotson on, 191) What seems her response to all forms of criticism?
What coincidence causes Sue to learn of Jude’s night with Arabella? (told by hotel attendant) Does this seem an unusual intrusion for a bystander to make?
What is Sue’s response? Jude’s? Is she unreasonable? Does he in fact have anything to explain? What does he feel women can’t understand?
Does she seem sincere in her statement that she might otherwise have been willing to spend the night with Jude?
What news has he heard from Arabella? (has asked for a divorce) Will this relieve his and Sue's painful situation?
What affirmations does she demand from him before they part? Why is absence of sexual desire identified with disembodied sweetness? (cannot be possessed?)
How do the townpeople come to know that Phillotson had aided in his wife’s departure? What prompts him to tell them? Would the servant have known the contents of his letter?
Under what circumstances is Phillotson dismissed from his job? Who rises to his defense, and with what results? (melee)
Who notifies Sue of Phillotson's sickness? What passes between them during her visit? (he asks her if she will reconsider)
What information does she give him? (Jude had been married and is seeking a divorce)
What details does she add, and why? (Jude had not sought divorce) What does she withhold? (she has been living platonically with Jude) From Jude? (that she has visited Phillotson)
Do these behaviors fit into patterns?
Book V, Chapter 1
After their respective divorces come through, why doesn’t Sue wish to marry Jude? Do her fears seem rational? From what else does she wish release?
On what matter does Jude wish assurance, and does she provide this? (that she loves him; she doesn’t respond)
How has Jude changed his line of work, and for what purpose? (chooses a less-satisfying form of work because Sue can help him in it)
Who has called for Jude in his absence, and how does Sue respond to her return? When Arabella returns, how does Jude respond?
On what grounds do Sue and Jude quarrel? Might some of their words have been wisely left unsaid? What change in their living situation does Sue promise in her distress?
On what pretext does Sue visit Arabella the next morning, and what news comes for Arabella during her visit? What advice does Arabella give her?
What implication may be suggested by Arabella’s desire to speak to Jude on “unfinished business”?
What has changed Sue’s mind about the prospect of marriage? Does it seem coincidental that with Arabella no longer a threat, she again refuses to make a commitment?
How will the lives of these two be affected by the fact that they do not marry?
What startling news does Jude receive in a letter from Arabella, and how do he and Sue both respond? Is it certain that the child is Jude’s?
How had Arabella behaved on the arrival of her son?
What do we learn of the child’s temperament? How is he greeted by Sue and Jude, and what hopes does Jude express for him?
How does Sue respond to his desire to call her mother? What does she state that she thinks she and Jude should do? (marry) Does this happen?
Who comes to witness their wedding, and what unpleasant legend of the past does she relate?
What events cause Sue to decide they should not marry at the registry, and again, at the church?
Does Jude agree with her? What apparently has persuaded him? Does this seem consistent with his views and attitude toward Sue on other occasions?
What do they predict will be the attitude of future generations toward marriage? Were they correct?
How does Widow Edlin react to the news of their non-marriage? From whom does Sue wish to conceal their decision?
Who follows Jude and Sue in their expedition to the Agricultural Fair with little Jude/Father Time?
What do we learn of Arabella’s present situation and the character of her husband? Of the relationship between Jude and Sue as described by the narrator? (seem to be one person)
Who else does Arabella encounter, and what do we learn from her conversation with each?
What does Sue most enjoy at the fair, and how does she respond to Jude’s desire that she express happiness that they have shared this outing?
Is little Jude/Father Time able to enjoy the sights they see? What is his response to the sight of roses?
What attempt do Jude and Sue make to conceal their unmarried state? Why doesn’t this propitiate their neighbors?
What embarrassing incident at a workplace causes them to feel unwanted? What effect does this have on little Jude/Time?
What is the effect of referring to the child with an epithet rather than his given name?
Why does Sue not wish them to move to London? Is this rational? What difficulties will this cause?
From participation in what organization is Jude excluded? (Artisans’ Mutual Improvement Society) Is this surprising?
Who encounters Sue at the Kennetbridge fair? What has changed since about Sue and Jude’s situation? (selling cakes, Jude unwell, descent in social scale)
What has happened to Arabella in the meantime? What information does she glean from the unwary Sue?
Why do you think the narrator provides the information that Jude and Sue have had two children and are expecting another indirectly and in this context?
What emotion does Sue exhibit about the expected birth of another child?
What implicit threat is made by Arabella? (to remove Little Jude/Time) What new professions does she now make? (interested in religion, has come to fair for consecration of chapel)
What emotions regarding Jude does Arabella confide in her friend Anny? Does Anny approve?
What news does Arabella convey to Phillotson, and with what motive? Does it seem probable that this pair should have met, or that Arabella could have known the intimate details of Jude and Sue’s private life?
Now that Sue and Jude have several children, should the issue of whether they had slept together before her divorce be relevant?
Where does Jude now purpose to go, and with what motive? (to live and perhaps die there)
At the end of the novel’s penultimate book, what problems have been foreshadowed which may affect the ending?
Book 6, Chapter 1
What symbolism is embedded in the return of Jude and his family to Christminster?
Is it significant that the narrator refers to the children according to whether they are Arabella’s or Jude and Sue’s? (Arabella’s boy, their eldest) Why aren’t their given names used?
What seems ominous about the description of the crimson robes of the Oxford graduates and dons? (blood red, 254)
What account does Jude give of himself to the Oxford crowd? Are his admissions embarrassing? (255) Unusual?
What forces does he blame for his present situation? (256-57) How do members of the crowd respond?
What does Jude find indicated by the scene in which the driver kicks his horse? (257)
How does Sue respond to the sight of Richard among the onlookers in the crowd? (258)
Why are the family forced to separate in their lodgings? (258) What biblical story does their plight suggest?
Had this not occurred, might the tragic death of their children been prevented?
What confession does Sue make to the landlady? (260) Could she have handled the situation differently? What had caused the landlady’s suspicions?
What do you make of the claim that the couple should not marry because this is merely a conventional bond contrary by its nature to the essence of love? (needed to render children legitimate)
Do Jude and Sue have different reasons for fearing that marriage might become an undesired obligation?
VI- Chapter 2. What events and conversation precedes Father Time’s horrific act? Might it helped if Sue had tried to comfort him or express affection? What does she in fact say? (“You couldn’t help it.” 262)
What do you make of her claim that she is merely being honest with her step-son?
Does she answer little Jude’s accusation that she is responsible for the birth of another unwanted child? Would birth control have been available by this time?
After the children have died, what arguments does Jude hear in the adjoining chamber? (over desired position of church, eastward or otherwise)
Does Sue recount accurately to Jude her conversation with Father Time? What aspect of her words does she omit? (262)
Does Jude ascribe to her any blame for what has happened? What authority does he adduce for interpreting his son's woes as a reflection of the times?
Why isn’t Sue willing to attend her children’s burial? What alternate behavior characterizes her grief? (wants to see corpses after they have been buried, 267)
Do you think Jude’s and Sue’s reactions to the deaths of three children seems realistic? (fail to mourn their individual characters)
Does Sue consider that her childrens’ deaths have been an unrelieved evil? (no, life is so unpleasant! 266)
Does she make a distinction between Father Time and her own children?
To what does she attribute her family’s woes? (civilization, 266)
VI-Chapter 3. How do Sue and Jude respond respectively to the deaths of their children? Why does Jude blame himself for her sense of guilt? (269)
Why won’t Sue marry Jude even though she has come to believe in the importance of the marriage tie? Does society in fact demand the remarriage of previously divorced persons?
What account does she give for her initial interest in Jude, and her former willingness to live with him? (277) On what does she now insist?
What effect does the visit from Arabella have on Sue’s mental state? What does she admit to Arabella, and from what motives? What consequences will ensue from Arabella’s knowledge of this fact?
How has Sue come to interpret the deaths of her children?
What is her response to Jude when he attempts to reason with her? (claims that he is unkind to her, 275-76)
What does she claim is the difference between men and women, and why are women’s alleged reactions superior? Are any of her claims inconsistent? (if she truly thought sex wrong, shouldn’t have clung so to Jude, demanding a shared life, since she admits she lived with him in part from jealousy of Arabella, 277)
VI-Chapter 4. What has caused Phillotson to change his mind about his divorce? How does Sue respond to his invitation to reunite?
What are Jude’s emotions on learning that Sue plans to leave him? (anger and pity, 294)
VI-Chapter 5. When Sue returns to Phillotson, what kind of wedding does she propose? Are hints given of impending problems? (tears nightgown)
What advice is given by Mrs. Edlin to Sue? (should have lived with Jude) To Phillotson? (he shouldn’t marry her, 289)
What role does she seem to play in this complicated set of relationships? What are her views intended to represent? (those of commonsensical bystander)
What are Phillotson’s motives in seeking a renewed relationship with his former wife? (loves her, 288) How might he have gleaned a knowledge of her conflicted mental state?
VI-Chapter 6. Under what pretext does Arabella ask Jude to take her in? (291)
Why do you think she is interested in Jude once again? Does this seem plausible?
What painful news does she bring him? (marriage of Sue and Phillotson has occurred; Sue unhappiness shown in her tearing of nightgown)
Does it seem likely that Arabella would have wished to or been able to learn these details?
What means does she use to obtain Jude’s company?
VI-Chapter 7: Under what circumstances do Arabella and Jude marry?
Why has Jude been unable to resist something he claims to have found repellent? (he drinks, is told he has given a promise)
Who objects to the union, and on what grounds? (Tinker Taylor, a former acquaintance, 301) Would other grounds have been possible?
What effect does Jude’s marriage have on the plot, and on his future? (no hope of reunion with Sue)
VI-Chapter 8. What unpleasant circumstances attend Jude and Arabella’s marriage? (he’s in ill health, they reproach one another)
What does he request of Arabella, and on what grounds? When she refuses, what does he threaten? (to kill Arabella, 304)
Under what conditions does he visit Sue? For what does he reproach her (306), and how does she respond? (307)? What does he ask of her? (that they elope) Does this seem rational?
VI-Chapter 9. What has caused Jude’s health to worsen? What reason does he give for his expedition in inclement weather?
What causes Sue to decide to sleep with her husband? Does this motive include good will towards him? (no, penance)
What role does Mrs. Edlin play in this? (warns her not to force herself; opines on topic of modern marriage)
In offering herself to Phillotson, what does Sue tell him of her actions earlier in the day? What is his response?
VI-Chapter 10. Who brings to Jude the information of Sue’s decision?
What kind of health care is provided for Jude, and on what grounds does he reject it?
What do we assume from Arabella’s relationship with the quack doctor?
VI-Chapter 11. What forms of deprivation attend Jude’s death? What does he regret as he dies?
What is added by the details that Arabella enjoys herself on an outing, knowing that her husband has already died?
What lie does Arabella tell Mrs. Edlin, and from what motive? (conceals her unwillingness to permit Jude to contact Sue, and his farewell message)
Why do you think Arabella is given the novel’s final words? (especially bitter from an unfriendly source) Do we assume that she is correct that Sue will never be happy?
Does this seem an appropriate closure for the plot?
What seem some of Hardy’s main themes throughout the novel? Are the themes of intellectual and economic exclusion, sexual frustration and cross-purposes, and the difficulty of obtaining satisfaction or happiness in a disordered world mutually harmonized and reinforcing?
What is the sigificance of Jude’s name? His occupation?
--Jude the apostle of apostasy, the last days, writer of an obscure epistle which precedes the Apocalypse
--the figure of the mason was associated with the Victorian Gothic revival; Carlyle had celebrated the mason as the obscure worker who held society together in Past and Present; Ruskin had praised the artisan stone carver in “The Nature of Gothic”
What are some features of Jude’s character? Does he seem consistent to you?
--a masochism in telling his thoughts to those who scorn them (of course this is a useful novelistic device)
--doesn’t fight back or protect self--e. g. doesn’t seek divorce; ensnared by Arabella the second time
--not given to half-way ambitions; there were more humble universities to which he could have gone; seems inconsistent in contemning Arabella but repeatedly sleeping with her, admiring a woman who dislikes sexual intimacy while denying his own ambivalence
What is Sue Bridehead like? Do you agree with criticism of her as an “interesting girl,” “the modern woman,” and so on?
--Sue is a Victorian woman who believes that sexuality will destroy dignity of personality; to the usual attitudes she adds some education and independence. Perhaps Hardy is more honest in describing the effects of Victorian female education--if consistently applied--than authors who end their portrayals at marriage.
--Also Sue seems coy, 117, 121, 124, 138, 139, 168, 172-73, 175, 189, 190; she takes pleasure in male admiration, company, and sexual interest, yet prides herself on chastity. She seems to demand constant approval (described as petulant hussy, 205).
To what extent is Sue a portrayal of a "new woman"? (wishes to discuss sexuality more openly) How is she not? (new women advocated divorce to relieve abuses in marriage, and hoped for the possiblity of dignified singleness for women, not to encourage lifelong flirtation and ambivlence). Is the novel intended to espouse the notion of "free love"?
Jude has the equivalent male Victorian complex--he sleeps with a woman he despises, contemns himself for the union, is a victim of unverbalized and unwanted drives (his attraction to Arabella inexplicable in novel’s overt terms), admires Sue for her frigidity even though he complains against it (194, 205, 210, 271, 273, 279, 281), and interprets her changeability as inherently "feminine" (rather than, say, thoughtless or unstable).
Do you think Hardy’s treatment of Sue is adequate? What traits do Jude or the narrator specifically consider “womanly”?
--jealousy (220, Jude; 133, narrator)
--woman’s eye keen for material things, 288
--irrationality (278, 309, 318, Jude; 133, Hardy; 189, Sue)
What do you think of Sue’s and Jude’s response to marriage? Why do they finally decide against it? (226)
Later, why does Sue finally decide to marry Jude? To sleep with him? (jealous of Arabella, wants to be a respectable mother)
Are sex and companionship incompatible in this novel? Does the novel present any exceptions to these mutually exclusive alternatives?
(Arabella and Sue constitute the only choices for the protagonist; compare Stephen and Philip in The Mill on the Floss)
Would the protagonists' problems have disappeared had they lived outside of "civilization"?
Do you think Arabella is consistently drawn?
What is the function of Old Testament references? The use of religious and traditional associations and structures for background? (267, intensifies sense of loss and betrayal)
How important is a sense of place to the novel's development of its themes?
What are some of the ways the novel uses irony, and to what ends?
--Jude introduces Sue to Phillotson, comes to Christminster because of Phillotson
--After the children die, the chapel organist plays, “Truly God is loving unto Israel,” 267
How is Jude’s child used symbolically?
--little Time, 218-19, 266
--child of Jude and Arabella kills all the rest
Is Sue at all responsible for the murder?
What function is served by the widow Edlin?
--represents common public opinion; a kindly chorus, gossip
--even she thinks Sue ought to live with Jude, 289, 290
If the novel is not specifically concerned with the marriage laws, what is the philosophic reason for presenting Jude and Sue’s frustrations in marriage?
The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Far from the Madding Crowd are also preoccupied with the theme of an unfortunate early marriage. According to Albert Guerard (Hardy, 27), “For whatever reasons, Hardy conceived of marriage as a dramatic illustration of the human impulse to work at cross-purposes long before he wrote Jude the Obscure. Far more often than not it exemplified the ‘circumstantial will against enjoyment’ which ever frustrates the ‘inherent will to enjoy.’” (compare Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents--something in the constitution of things forbids enjoyment)
What type of society does the novel represent?
--one of social change, “between two worlds, one dead, the other waiting to be born," a sense of decadence
--fin de siecle world, nostalgia for loss of imagined former rural social harmony, and a sense of the limited possibilities for human happiness; inherent maschism in human psychology; possibility that evolution may have erred in creating humans who lacked the capacity for guiltless enjoyment.
--loss of faith, skepticism in religion.
Skepticism had not been a problem for the protagonists of most earlier novelists, or if so, skepicism had ended in the return of faith (in part this was a result of the censorship of the novel through institutions such as Mudie’s Circulating Library). Even George Eliot’s protagonists were not skeptical, although she herself espoused a non-theistic ethic; her heroines don’t debate theology, they practice ethics.
--concern with conflict between human sexuality and aspirations for happiness--what are perceived as two sides of personality destroy each other (compare The Mill on the Floss).
--protagonist is defeated in his attempts at achieving a better social and intellectual status; upward mobility is thwarted; contrast the mid-Victorian “success” novel
Are Jude and Sue’s problems individual, universal, or representative of the conditions of a particular time?
--opposition in things, 141, 267, 271 (see Guerard quotation below)
--an old civilization, 285
--fin de siecle sense of decadence
How are animals used in the novel? (they and man are linked in a natural pattern of suffering; compare the beating of horses in Olive Schreiner’s From Man to Man)
What is the effect of the presence of children and their deaths on the plot?
What do you think of the book’s improbabilities? Do these reinforce or detract from its basic themes?
What is the significance of the book’s ending? What do you think of its consistency and appropriateness?
Hardy’s changes to the book version of Jude:
abusive quotations from reviewers, 261-62
his statements on his return to poetry 262
1903 version substantially alters the first scene between Jude and Arabella to lessen references to pig’s offal
1912 text, details more sexual, 270-71
softens Sue’s character, 271-73
1895 edition continued to be reprinted in U. S. until 1957!
Some Final Questions:
1. What are some resemblances between Jude the Obscure and a Greek tragedy? (constant use of ironic reversal, recognition) Which aspects of Hardy’s plot would Aristotle have found untragic?
2. Albert Guerard, in comparing Hardy with Conrad:
In the end he [Hardy] did write, and seemingly with full consciousness of what he was doing, three very great novels: Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Jude the Obscure. But only two of these explore at all the great theme of nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction: the myth of the morally isolated individualist lost in a world he never made; who searches for freedom, though bereft of faith, and who wills his own destruction (Hardy, 159).
The fury aroused by Jude the Obscure was the fury of outraged optimism, not of outraged prudery; the book suggested that life was an unpleasant experience for all but a privileged or insensitive few and an incoherent experience for all (37). [He notes that Hardy was criticized for his presentation of cruelty to a dog, 37].
Do you think Guerard was correct in his assessments of Hardy’s motives and audience? What may his remarks indicate about the nature of mid-twentieth century assessments of the Victorians?
3. In what ways may this novel be autobiographical (despite Hardy's disclaimers)?
3. How does this novel reflect aspects of late-Victorian views on sexuality?
4. What are some features of the novel’s style? (e. g., its use of irony and parallelism, symmetry, limited range of characters, symbolic locations, reversals, coincidences, biblical and patristic allusions) Are these effective?
5. What role is played in the novel by the idea of "honesty"?
6. What are the some of the best features and strengths of this novel? Its defects, if any? Do you find this a compelling book, and if so, in what ways?
7. What judgments does this novel present on human life? On the deflation of hopes?
8. What view does this novel present on the social determinants of happiness? To what extent can the hero affect his/her fate? How do Hardy’s views resemble those of other Victorian novelists?
9. Does this novel suggest other novels of the 1890s and early twentieth century?