What are the themes of "Jude the Obscure"?

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morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One theme in "Jude the Obscure" by Thomas Hardy is the contrast between rural and urban culture. Jude begins as a country boy whose love of books and knowledge makes him yearn for the city. The country is presented as ignorant and backwards while the city is full of men of knowledge. Another theme in the novel is that of original sin and fate. Jude's son, Father Time, is cursed with a melancholy disposition. Father Time ends up murdering his siblings and himself. Was he destined to do this, or was it a result of circumstance?

idlssane | Student

Hardy's "Jude The Obscure" has several themes, but the most evident is one that recurs in several of Hardy's writings.  The morality issue is large.  Jude does what he can do the best he can do it.  He tries to remain a moral man and he makes the best decisions he knows how to make after looking closely at whatever situation he finds himself in.  He tries to follow an ethical and moral path.  They may not seem to be ethical and moral to the surrounding community but he is true to his values and when he sees that he has been wrong in his thinking or made a wrong choice, he accepts responsibility for his actions.

This novel is also about the freedom of choice for women.  Sue is considered o be a "new woman" who acts on her impulses and does not try to live her life by Victorian standards