Jude the Obscure

Paperback, 336 pages

English language

Published Dec. 1, 2006 by Dover Publications.

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3 stars (25 reviews)

Hardy's last work of fiction, Jude the Obscure is also one of his most gloomily fatalistic, depicting the lives of individuals who are trapped by forces beyond their control. Jude Fawley, a poor villager, wants to enter the divinity school at Christminster. Sidetracked by Arabella Donn, an earthy country girl who pretends to be pregnant by him, Jude marries her and is then deserted. He earns a living as a stonemason at Christminster; there he falls in love with his independent-minded cousin, Sue Bridehead. Out of a sense of obligation, Sue marries the schoolmaster Phillotson, who has helped her. Unable to bear living with Phillotson, she returns to live with Jude and eventually bears his children out of wedlock. Their poverty and the weight of society's disapproval begin to take a toll on Sue and Jude; the climax occurs when Jude's son by Arabella hangs Sue and Jude's children and …

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Review of 'Jude the Obscure' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Sue Bridehead is an interesting "strong female character" before her time. Not only challenging in her choices (defying marriage traditions) but also in what she chooses to read--which makes her choices more interesting because she's coming at them from a different moral and intellectual basis. ANd the character of Philloston surprised me as well; he did not follow the tropes I expected.

I don't think Hardy picked a winner in the conflict he identifies between new/urban and old/rural thought and culture. No one in the story is happy, and much harm is done by one "side" to the other. So I get that Hardy is observing the change, but I don't think his conclusions about whether the change is good or bad are apparent.

Review of 'Jude the Obscure' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

3 1/2 stars

Oy vey. I don't know what to think about this book. Kinda liked it, kinda hated it. Sheesh, can it get any more depressing? Talk about a guy who thinks with his d!@#. I hated the character of Sue, what a kook. I hated Arabella too, though. She reminded me of my ex sister-in-law. yeah, that bad.

I have to think about this one for a while.

Review of 'Jude the Obscure' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I was disappointed by this. I've not read any other Thomas Hardy works, and was expecting some great stuff here, but I found it mostly soap opera-like, with a weak arc, and not very interesting writing (as compared to, say, Dickens). Also, it has what I see as an excessive tragedy spike late in the novel that is not supported well.


  • 19th century fiction
  • Classic fiction
  • Literature: Classics
  • Fiction
  • Literature - Classics / Criticism
  • Classics
  • Fiction / Classics
  • Children
  • Death
  • Illegitimate children
  • Stonemasons