The denial of the main Victorian values
in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure
In Jude the Obscure, we can find several similarities between the author, Thomas Hardy and the hero, Jude Fawley. Hardy was at the time of producing the novel engaged in restoring the church at West Knighton, working as a stone mason, similarly to Jude. Moreover, his first marriage was a failure, like Jude’s one. In addition, with Sue a new element of autobiography appears. As Hardy wrote to his friend, “Sue is a type of woman which has always had an attraction for me”. (in Butler) Probably the figure of Sue was partly drawn from one of his acquaintances. However, naturally we cannot say that this novel is autobiographical, though it is based on Hardy’s own views, ideas and experiences.
Jude the Obscure is the last of Thomas Hardy’s novels. He finished writing novels after the publication of Jude (1895), since the reception was so scandalous that Hardy finally decided to turn to poetry. Why did the readers consider it so outrageous that the Bishop of Wakefield even burnt the book publicly in the year of the publication? In my opinion, the answer to this question is that Jude the Obscure denies almost all the values and ideas of the Victorian era, which were important and significant at that age. This novel was a shock not only for the Church, but also for everyday people. Moreover, they could partly identify the figure and thoughts of Jude with the author. In my essay, I will observe the appearance of some of these ideas and values in Jude the Obscure.
In the Victorian age, responsibility had great significance. People were responsible for their deeds, for their children and also for their spouse. In this novel nobody is responsible for anybody or anything. Everyone wants to make their own progress. Arabella left her husband without hesitation, paying no attention to him, dealing only with her own feelings. She does not take care of her own child, Little Father Time either....