Convention of Omniscient Narrator in Jude The Obscure

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      Like most nineteenth-century novelists, Hardy believed that the author was supposed to know the past, present, and future of his characters and that he had the right to interpret their unseen actions and pass judgment on them in the text. This convention of the omniscient narrator is indispensable to Hardy's ironic view of his characters destinies and the malignity of chance. We are allowed to see characters engaged in activities at odds with their social roles: Jude the religious baker worshipping pagan gods in the moonlight, the pious and virginal Sue reverencing naked statues, the unbending Phillotson kissing the portrait of his fiancee. Hardy’s revelations of the hidden aspects of people stress the richness of fueling and complexity of motive that social conventions ignore in the individual. If we had seen Sue only in terms of her outward actions, for example, we should judge her as Gillingham does; a trivial flirt.

      Hardy can play the part of destiny in arranging his characters’ lives. He has Jude cut down by Arabella's coarse missile just as he is imagining a biased famously grand future for himself. Jude’s childish vision of Farmer Troutham’s field as a workplace for himself and a granary for the birds is supplemented by Hardy’s intelligent pessimism. Jude instinctively hopes that his future will be brighter than his fellow villagers’; because it is human to believe that a special fate awaits one. Hardy takes no such interesting view and shows that disillusionment is as much a part of the natural cycle as seeds-time and harvest. Later, when Jude has been disappointed by the Greek and Latin books which he cannot read, he flings himself down and is ‘an utterly miserable boy for the space of a quarter of an hour; Hardy makes us aware that the adult Jude will know misery the child cannot guess at; when Hardy offers us the chance of some adult coming to dispel Jude's worries he snatches it away with. ‘But nobody did come, because nobody ever does. The universe is indifferent, and here the author mimics that cruel carelessness. Hardy believes only in the laws of chance and the scientific theory of the survival of the fittest, and ironically mocks those characters who search for a pattern in the universe.

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