Nature Setting in The Novel Jude The Obscure

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      The meaning. The word nature is used in different senses in English. Its meaning as the physical universe with the vegetations, natural scenes of rivers, mountains, canyons, gorges, cloudy skies, beautiful apparitions, etc is the common one but the question above has no bearing on that aspect at all. In this question “nature” refers to the instincts of human beings' temperamental disposition, the peculiar quality or basic constitution of a person, etc. That the framer of the question has these meanings in view is evident from the phrase “as a character”. The innate qualities of the fictional creations of Hardy do influence the course of their lives. The intrinsic nature of the characters in his novels is responsible for their success or failure.

      Strongest passion. Hardy's explanation of his purpose in writing Jude the Obscure in his preface is as follows among other things as well—“to deal with the fret and fever, derision and disaster that may press in the wake of the strongest passion known to humanity”. Love is this passion universally acknowledged as such. The upsurge of sexual feelings in Jude is no doubt normal. Excess of indulgence in a life of promiscuous love is also restricted by Jude to the two girls he takes as his partners in life. Marriage to Arabella might have caused the utter ruin of his scholastic career but Jude’s other weaknesses are also equally responsible. Persons indulging in such sexual excesses as are described in the case of Jude have reached the pinnacles of scholastic edifices without any hurdles on the way. His romantic attachment to Sue who is utterly indifferent to the conventions of society also has not very much affected his ambitious character. It is the antagonism of society that has utterly ruined him in his ambitious programs. If only he had been a bit more tactful he could have had the best of both viz. romance with Sue and scholarship in the University campus. Sue is intellectual and clear-headed. She is fully aware that despite his ambition Jude will not shine in Christminster because of his other weaknesses and frailties. She could have contributed to Jude's success but unfortunately, she failed in it because of her behavior. She did not have the warmth of sexual feeling to enthuse Jude. Her utter callousness to social conventions and unwillingness to share the physical thrill of love with him has been the cause of the ruin of Jude.

      Skeptic nature of Sue is the cause of trouble for both. Sue starts her life as an unbeliever and as a neo-pagan skeptic as evidenced by her purchase of the plaster statues of heathen divinities. She avidly reads Gibbon, Swinburne, and other authors who are supposed to be atheistically inclined. Of course, this unorthodox attitude was not permanent in Sue. The domestic tragedy wrought so much havoc in her life that she staged a volte-face. She became completely religious and God-fearing, she makes amends for her past misdeeds. In this respect, it is evident that Hardy has depicted nature as a character impinging upon her life and destiny.

      The sensualist and alcoholic in Jude. Jude is influenced adversely and excessively by wine and women as admitted by himself and expressed in so many words by Hardy himself. Had it not been for the ruthless intervention of other circumstances this sensualism and alcoholic aberrations would not have had a very serious adverse influence on Jude’s life or destiny. On the one hand, Jude’s over-reliance on Sue acted as one of the causes of the tragedy in his life and destiny and on the other hand his intellectual ambition disproportionate to his humble status can be considered another cause of his unfulfilled aims and frustrated ambitions”. The distinguished academician's letter was called a spade although it was unpalatable to Jude and may be unpalatable to some critics as well. As a stonemason Jude could have consumed the entire stock of ale in Mary green or Melchester and could have had a couple of Arabella's more by his side without any serious trouble. Who knows, he could have even avoided the premature death at thirty. Further, even if he had been a saint and a teetotaller it is doubtful if he could have attained any distinguished academic position especially at the time of his life when the environment in England was not congenial for the poor people of the society, A strong undercurrent of what can be called class- consciousness can be felt by us.

      The hyper-sensitive character of Jude. Essentially soft-minded and high principled, Jude evinced the characteristic features of a hypersensitive man, though belonging to a working-class rather than to the elite society. Hardy pi|s him against Sue with her excessive ambiguity, sexual ambivalence to the extent of being a neurotic obsession. Sue is a subtle delineation of a not uncommon type of woman of the modern world.

      Searching study of human consciousness. Jude the Obscure shows Hardy's deliberate attempt to undertake a subtle and searching study of the human consciousness usually found in contemporary European novels and stories. Through this novel, Hardy has challenged the literary taboo and prohibitions of his contemporaries by bringing in a tragic problem involving the relations between the sexes. He has exposed the anomalies of the marriage vows when there is the incompatibility between legally wedded persons.

      The grim struggle of a failing man. Jude is a living example of a man fighting and yielding and fighting again in a hopeless battle. A clean-minded fellow no doubt but Jude is painted as one succumbing to a compulsive attack upon his virtue and never recovering his equilibrium and respectability afterward. To sum up, we can say that nature as a character impinges on human lives and destinies.

University Questions also can be Answered:

Discuss how Hardy uses setting to establish the themes of Jude the Obscure.


Discuss Nature as a character impinging upon the lives and destinies of the humans in Jude the Obscure.

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