Hardy portrays women in this novel as manipulative and self-serving. According to him, they use the conventions of society to get what they want. Examples are of Jude's marriage. Jude's relationship with Arabella is poor. She trapped Jude into the marriage by lying about her pregnancy. She hid the darker sides in her past. She is admired among friends for being clever in trapping a husband without really becoming pregnant.
Two notions presented in the novel regarding marriage are as follows: becoming pregnant is okay in order to manipulate getting married, and the partners, husband and wife, do not have to be honest with each other.
Arabella pretends Jude hurt her during their marriage, to gain social approval for leaving him, then she leaves him. In the future when Jude meets Arabella,again, as a barmaid he feels trapped all over again. He gives up his relationship with Sue as a result.