Compare & Contrast: Arabella & Phillotson in Jude The Obscure

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      Arabella Donn and Richard Phillotson Both characters are fascinating mixtures of good and bad qualities. Hardy sets out to make Arabella Donn a monster, but despite her grotesque selfishness, she is a necessary contrast to the spiritual Sue. Richard Phillotson, psychologically crippled by his fear of losing his right to teach and much older than the other characters, is both victim and torturer. He is Jude’s rival, but like Jude in many significant ways: his ambition, his love of Sue, his sensuality. Both spouses change heart along with the hero and heroine; Arabella parodies Sue's religious conversion in her brief episode of chapel-going, and Phillotson, like Jude, briefly becomes a spokesman for social outcasts. Arabella and Phillotson are successful in worldly terms while Sue and Jude are destroyed; Arabella, we feel, is morally worthless and Phillotson is a good man destroyed by social disapproval. He does not have the courage of a Jude to bear the weight of the world's anger when he follows his conscience.

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