The Ideological Questions of Marriage in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure

  • Salman Saleh, N. English Literature, University of Isfahan, Isfahan
  • Abbasi, P. English Literature, University of Isfahan, Isfahan
Keywords: Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, Religion, “New Woman, ” Free Union


As one of the prominent ideologies of the nineteenth-century— in a complex interrelation with other contemporary ideological discourses particularly femininity and marriage—religion adopts a critical stance in Hardy’s presentation of characters. Breaching the religio-conventional image of femininity as “Angel in the House” and “Cow Woman,” Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895) is indeed deemed to be his milestone in presenting his anti-Christian attitudes towards the contemporary religion. This study aims to present Hardy’s outright hostility towards the nineteenth-century Christianity through his creation of non-conformist characters, necessitating a parallel study with other contemporary discourses regarding marriage and femininity, and conflict with the religion of the time. Hardy’s magnum opus, the work on which he was to stake his final reputation as a novelist, was clearly Jude the Obscure which as a noticeable socio-religious experimentation of the late nineteenth-century, reveals Hardy’s perception of new ideas about femininity and marriage by presenting the hot contemporary issues of “New Woman” and “Free Union” through the development and presentation of Sue Bridehead and her free union with Jude, respectively. Hardy’s presentation of Sue Bridehead as a “New Woman,” and employing the “Free Union” in marked contrast with the nineteenth-century convention of marriage as a “Bonded Pair” is Hardy’s closing upshot of his final novelistic attempt. The non-conformist Jude and Sue are presented as figures touching the Victorian Christian standards of morality, while, the final tragic destiny of Jude and Sue’s helplessness attest to the writer’s substantial contribution as a Victorian male novelist to the ideologies circulating at the time.


Download data is not yet available.


Acton, William. (1857). The function and disorders of reproductive organs in childhood, youth, adult age and advanced life considered in their physiological society moral relations. London: J. and A. Churchill.

Barnard, Robert. (1984). A short history of English literature. Britain: Basil Blackwell Ine.

Chakraborti, Basudeb. (1997). Thomas Hardy’s view of happiness: A study of his major novels and short stories. Calcutta: Minerva Associates Publications Pvt. Ltd.

Doheny, John R. (2002). The characterization of Jude and Sue: the myth and the reality, 110-132.

Fariza, Badja. (2012). The position of women in Thomas Hardy’s poetry. M. A. Thesis, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, University of Tizi-Ouzou.

Gilbert, Sandra M. and Gubar, Susan. (1979). The madwoman in the attic: The woman writer and the nineteenth-century literary imagination. New Haven: Yale Up.

Guerard, Albert. J. (1986). Hardy: A collection of critical essays. London: Prentice-Hall International (UK) Ltd.

Hardy, Barbara. Thomas Hardy imagining imagination: Hardy’s poetry and fiction. New Jeresy: the Athlone Press, 2000.

Hardy, Thomas. (1999). Jude the Obscure. London: Routledge.

Hardy, Thomas. (2000). Jude the Obscure. Introduction and Notes by Norman Vance. Hertfordshire. Wordsworth Classics.

Harrison, Frederick. (1891). The emancipation of women. The Fortnightly Review. Vol. 50. 452.

Howe, Irving. (1965). Jude the Obscure (edited with an introduction). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Jacobus, Mary. (1997). Sue the obscure, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Vol.72.

Pinion, F. B. (1968). A Hardy companion. London: Macmillan, St. Martin’s press.

Mill, John Stuart. (1929). The subjection of women: Rights of woman. London: J. M. Dent and Sons.

Miller, J. Hillis. (1970). Thomas Hardy: Distance and desire. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Morgan, Rosemarie. (2006). Student companion to Thomas Hardy. London: Greenwood press.

Morgan, Rosemarie. (1988). Women and sexuality in the novels of Thomas Hardy. New York: Routledge.

Stubbs, Patricia. (1979). Women and fiction: Feminism and the novel 1880-1920. London: The Harvester Press Ltd..
How to Cite
N., S. S., & P., A. (2016). The Ideological Questions of Marriage in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. K@ta, 17(2), 49-57.