What is the point of view of Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy?

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Thomas Hardy constructs Jude the Obscure with a third-person omniscient point of view, through which he gives readers access to multiple characters' thoughts and feelings. Had Hardy used a third-person limited point-of-view narration, he would have limited readers' access to the thoughts and feelings of one character, which in Jude the Obscure would logically have been Jude, the primary character.

While Hardy employs an omniscient third-person narrator, most of the text is focused through the character of Jude. Nonetheless, point-of-view shifts occur for whole chapters or portions of chapters, during which the thoughts and feelings of other significant characters focus the point of view.

An instance of an omniscient third-person narrator point-of-view shift occurs in part I, chapter XI, when the narrator shifts readers' attention to Arabella with the opening line: "Next morning, which was Sunday, [Arabella] resumed operations about ten o'clock." Another such shift occurs in part II, chapter III, when the narrator focuses attention on Sue, beginning by taking readers along with her on a walk: "Sue Bridehead had an afternoon's holiday, and leaving the ecclesiastical establishment in which she not only assisted but lodged, took a walk into the country . . ."

Regardless of which character has the point-of-view focus, Hardy tends to leave deeper philosophical ideas and psychological motivations hidden, opting instead for revealing more straightforward thoughts and feelings (e.g., "Jude thought with a feeling of sickness . . .").

Interesting Resource:
Katie Gallant and Alison Eagles, "First-Person vs. Third-Person [and Empathy]." Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Hardy uses a third person point of view which, while generally limited with a focus on Jude, occasionally shifts to other "main" characters in the story. This technique is unusual and gives the reader insights into other characters as well as Jude, without being as overwhelming or all-telling as third person omniscient perspective. Thus, an intimate perspective is maintained, drawing the reader in to the group of characters and providing a wider range of attachments to make. Opening the story to more characters without providing every thought, feeling, etc., allows the reader to feel both close to and distant from the characters at the same time. It also provides the reader with greater understanding of character motivations and dispositions.

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