Book Review: Jude The Obscure

Jude The Obscure is a Bildungsroman (coming of age) story following the life of Jude who, when we are first introduced, aspires to study at Christminster and become an academic or clergyman. However, various relationships and social dramas interrupt this life goal until it gradually withers away.

I really liked Hardy’s style of writing and this was an easy and enjoyable book to read. I thought the issues covered, such as religion, marriage, divorce and courting were discussed in a very modern way, which pleasantly surprised me, given the fact it was written more than 100 years ago.

I also liked the way the book was split into 6, roughly equal parts: At Marygreen [1], At Christminster [2], At Melchester [3], At Shaston [4], At Aldbrickham and Elsewhere [5], At Christminster Again [6]. This helped the narrative flow by keeping each section in just one setting, and also made it easier to log my progress on Goodreads!

The part which gripped me most was At Christminster Again [6] because of the tense and emotional scene with Little Father Time and the children. The scene was predictable, but in a good way. The foreshadowing was well done, so I knew what would happen, and when it did, I was simultaneously satisfied and heart-broken! I am wary of saying much more as I like to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible.

I also noticed some narrative similarities between Jude The Obscure and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; the beginnings are quite similar. A young boy raised by his aunt grows up to learn about the world and develops feelings for a local girl. However, once Jude reached manhood, the plot completely changed, and sadly this is where the similarities between the two novels ended.

Another slight disappointment for me was that I didn’t understand why the book is called Jude The Obscure. To me, this is such a shame because usually with older books, it’s easier to work out. I just like to be able to work out myself why the book has been given its title.

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this Hardy novel and it may be my favourite!

– Judith


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