Jude the Obscure

by Thomas Hardy

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In Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, to what extent is Jude's Romantic approach to life to blame for his failure in life?

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Jude's romantic and idealistic approach to life is most evident in the way that he stubbornly pursues his dream of becoming a renowned scholar at Christminster. The circumstances of his life make this virtually impossible; his poor, rural background counts against him and he gets no encouragement from the academics at Christminster yet he never gives up this dream. It would have been better, certainly more practical, for him to just have settled down to the job that he is able to do, that of being a mason. His entanglement with women also contributes to his downfall, of course. Being shy and romantic, he tends to idealise them, and fails to recognize their true natures until it is too late. He should never have married Arabella at all, her nature is so coarse and so completely different from his own, but he doesn't see this at first, and she ends up dominating him and making him miserable. Even with Sue, whose ideas are more compatible with his own, he ultimately fails. He is constantly perplexed by her even when he is infatuated with her, and in the end she too is unable to live up to his exalted expectations and deserts him, leaving him to fall into the clutches of Arabella once more.

Jude is beaten down by the failure of all his dreams and dies young, so in this way we can say that his romantic idealistic approach to life does cause most of his problems. At the same time, we can applaud him for having dared to dream, and we can also point the finger of blame at society for not having allowed him more opportunities in his life, most of all the chance to achieve his dream of becoming well-educated.

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