Autobiographical Elements in the Novel Jude The Obscure

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      Good novelists and their pet ideas. All good novelists exhibit a tendency to write about themselves or project themselves into one of the characters of their books. While they describe some of their creations they definitely remember their personal experiences and so describe their characters in the manner they saw the different people in the course of their daily experience.

      Hardy and Jude. Hardy and Jude have many things in common between them. Hardy learned the classical languages utilizing self-study. He was an architect by profession. The similarity to stonemason is apparent. In 1872 Hardy was struck off the list of Architectural Association for non-payment of subscriptions more or less in the manner Jude was dismissed from that body. Like Jude, Hardy had worked for the renovation of some churches.

      Differences with his wife. At about the time of writing Jude, the Obscure Hardy and his wife had serious differences. Hardy’s cynicism about the Church shocked her and she resented his unorthodox views about the institution of marriage. Some of the views of Jude may be considered as echoes of Hardy’s views. Jude says “Strange difference of sex that time and circumstance, which enlarge the views of most men narrow the views of women almost invariably.”

      Sue and Tryphena. Hardy’s mother’s sister had a daughter named Tryphena. Like Sue, she was a student teacher in a village school. She was an attractive dark-haired girl. The description of Sue in the novel may be suitable to her also. “She looked right into his face with liquid untranslatable eyes that combined or seemed to him to combine keenness with tenderness and mystery with both. She was not a large figure. She was light and slight of the type dubbed elegant. There was nothing statuesque in her. All were a nervous motion. She was mobile, living, yet a painter might not have called her handsome or beautiful”. There are other passages also where Sue is described and the description may equally suit Tryphena. In 1868 this girl was dismissed from her school because she was pregnant illegitimately. Some say that she had Hardy’s child in her womb. This child must have inspired the creation of Father Time in the novel.

      Conclusion. Thus we see some autobiographical elements in the novel and these facts add to the poignancy of the story. We understand the background and circumstances that prompted Hardy to write this novel. However, the autobiographical elements are not indispensable to the understanding of the novel, for the novel stands the test as an independent work of art. Further, the novel does not follow completely the course of Hardy’s life and career. Thus while it has autobiographical elements, which, if known, may make the novel more appealing to us, the novel cannot be called autobiographical as a whole.

University Questions also can be Answered:

Many tiny details of Jude’s youth are drawn from Hardy’s early experience. How far is this true?


How does the autobiographical elements in Jude the Obscure add to its appeal as a novel?


Jude the Obscure has an autobiographical element but it cannot be called an autobiographical novel. Discuss.

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