Jude the Obscure

by Thomas Hardy
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To what extent is Jude successful in realizing his dreams in Jude the Obscure?

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Jude is only marginally successful in realizing his dreams. His failure is due largely to the circumstances from which he begins but also partly due to his romantic idealism.

The success that Jude does achieve falls short of his ideal vision, though he does manage to attain some of the things he aims for. 

Beginning as a child with no parents and a member of the poor, working class, Jude has few or no advantages. He desires with his whole spirit to become a person of education and value, yet to do this he will need to transcend his circumstances. This proves, finally, impossible.

The central [theme] of the work is the inability of individuals to surmount the social and psychological forces that determine their lives.

Though Jude does educate himself to a considerable degree, he is never accepted into the university. He becomes a well-regarded craftsman, but does not become the person of value (and improved class) that he had hoped to become. 

Jude's goal of becoming educated in the university is replaced by a romantic aim. He hopes, again with all his spirit, to marry Sue. In this he also fails. However, just as Jude became educated (outside the university), he also becomes joined with Sue (outside of marriage). 

...the novel recounts Jude's unrealized dream to enter the university at Christminster, and his powerlessness to remain happily with the woman he loves, Sue Bridehead, outside of the socially accepted institution of marriage.

As an idealist, Jude's achievements do not constitute actual success. Rather, they are approximations of success, lessened by compromise and by the unavoidable realities of his situation. 

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