Thomas Hardy’s last novel, Jude the Obscure , is undoubtedly his most thought provoking work, a fact which corresponds with the seriousness and depth with which Hardy explores and gropes with the very foundation and framework of human life in a world that insists on playing a heavy handed, and to great extent destructive, role in the manipulation of the individual’s destiny.
What aggravates the dilemma of human life in Jude the obscure is that Hardy substitutes a turbulent and disconnected setting for his traditionally stable agriculture and rural one.
This change has a profound effect on the psychology of the characters of the novel.
Richard Carpenter refers to this new atmosphere which penetrates in to the felling of the characters when he states that in Jude the Obscure.
Hardy turns away from agricultural setting and pastoral myth to restless world of cities and psychological insecurities.
The sense of psychological insecurity which the major characters suffer takes deeper roots due to the fact that customs and conventions sanctioned by society are being questioned and even challenged by these characters.
In the study of Thomas Hardy, Lawrence indicates that the characters of Hardy’s novel are shown to be struggling hard to come into being.
Lawrence’s statement applies perfectly well to the major characters of Jude the obscure, and this in turn makes meaningful their questioning and challenging of the norms of their society.
In other words These characters in their attempt to come to themselves, find out that they are hampered by fixed social norms, which they try to fight off.
The peculiar strength of this struggle makes them the most unconventional of all Hardy`s characters, and explains why Hardy once intended to call this novel the Recalcitrant s .
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