Marriage in "Jude the Obscure"

1521 WordsNov 22, 20127 Pages
Marriage in “Jude the Obscure” Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure” focuses on the life of a country stonemason named Jude Fawly, and his love for his cousin Sue Bridehead, a schoolteacher. From the beginning Jude knows that marriage is an ill-fated venture in his family and his great aunt Drusilla tells him so, and he believes that his love for Sue curses him doubly, because they are both members of a cursed clan. While love could be identified as a central theme in the novel, marriage is the novel’s main focus. Jude and Sue are unhappily married to other people, and then drawn by a bond that pulls them together. Their relationship is plagued with tragedy. Before all that occurs however, in the first two parts of the book, the focus is on…show more content…
Intellectually, he recognizes that there is something in her "quite antipathetic to that side of him which had been occupied with literary study and the magnificent Christminster dream. It had been no vestal virgin who chose that missile for opening her attack on him" (Part I, Chapter 6). 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" (Part I, Chapter 9). Naïve and trusting, he does what he perceives to be the honorable thing and marries her, but he has married the wrong woman and thus the marriage is bound to be a disaster. Sue's marriage to Phillotson is another example of a disastrous marriage of impulsiveness and thoughtlessness. Jude suspects that Sue has married Phillotson as a reaction to his own marriage as a kind of revenge or a way of "asserting her own independence from him." She does not realize the gravity of the step she has taken. After the ceremony there is a "frightened look in her eyes," as if she has just become aware of the rashness of her decision. Barely a month later she admits, "perhaps I ought not to have married" (Part III, Chapter 9). Sue is the loudest critic of matrimony in the novel—making sarcastic comments on the custom of giving away the bride, "like a she-ass or she-goat or any other domestic animal" (Part III, Chapter 7). When her marriage is in trouble, she criticizes the institution,
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