Jude the Obscure

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Genres: Banned Books
Language: English
Type: Digital

Jude the Obscure (1895) is a novel by Thomas Hardy that explores themes of social class, education, and the pursuit of love and happiness. It is considered to be one of Hardy's most controversial novels, as it deals with taboo subjects such as adultery, illegitimacy, and suicide.

Plot Summary

The novel follows the life of Jude Fawley, a young man from a poor rural family who dreams of becoming a scholar and writer. Jude is denied a university education because of his social class and financial situation, and he is forced to work as a stonemason in order to support himself.

Despite his limited education, Jude is a brilliant individual with a thirst for knowledge. He reads voraciously and teaches himself Latin and Greek. He also falls in love with Sue Bridehead, a free-spirited woman who is also denied higher education because of her gender.

Sue and Jude's relationship is fraught with conflict due to their different social backgrounds and their unconventional views on marriage and religion. They are also haunted by the stigma of their illegitimate child, a daughter named Little Father Time.


  • Social class: The novel explores the rigid social class system of Victorian England and the barriers it placed between people from different backgrounds. Jude's inability to achieve his educational goals due to his social class is a central theme of the novel.

  • Education: The novel questions the value of traditional education and suggests that true education is about self-discovery and personal growth. Jude's passion for learning and his ability to learn on his own despite limited formal education are testaments to this idea.

  • The pursuit of love and happiness: The novel explores the challenges of achieving love and happiness in a society that is constrained by social norms and class expectations. Jude and Sue's relationship is ultimately doomed due to the pressures they face from society and their own inner conflicts.

Critical Reception

Jude the Obscure was met with critical controversy upon its release, as it was considered to be too dark and pessimistic for its time. The novel's exploration of taboo subjects such as illegitimacy and suicide offended many readers. However, the novel has since been reevaluated and is now considered to be one of Hardy's most important works.


Jude the Obscure remains a powerful and thought-provoking novel that continues to resonate with readers today. It is a timeless exploration of the challenges faced by individuals who dare to dream and strive for a better life in a society that is often unsupportive of their ambitions.

Key Works

  • Jude the Obscure (1895)
  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
  • The Return of the Native (1878)
  • Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)


  • "An unread book is like a guest that never comes."
  • "To put the world in order, we must first put ourselves in order."
  • "We are not necessarily bound to believe everything we think."


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