Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
Discuss the hypothesis that the Bible is the philosophical and metaphoric underpinning of Jude the Obscure.

I. Thesis Statement: Religion plays a large role in the lives of the characters in Jude the Obscure and they frequently see events in biblical terms.

II. Discussion of nineteenth century views on the Bible and religion
A. Jude’s religious views
1. Conflict between religion and scholarship
2. Burning of religious books
3. Personal religious feeling vs. morality

III. Religion in Sue’s life
A. Rebellion against tradition
B. Conversion and fanaticism

IV. Views of other characters
A. Arabella
B. Phillotson
C. Great Aunt Drusilla

V. The Bible as a metaphor in Jude
A. Names in the novel
1. “At Marygreen”
2. “At Christminster”

Topic #2
Jude aspires to a university education. Discuss Jude’s exclusion from the university.

I. Thesis Statement: The frustration Jude feels at being excluded from the university brings about his demise.

II. Jude’s initial adulation of Phillotson
A. Learning of Greek and Latin

III. Jude in Christminster
A. Link between desire for education and desire for Sue
B. Conflict between education and religion
C. Attitude of the authorities at Christminster
D. Sue’s influence on Jude
E. Jude’s encounter with the undergraduates

IV. The destruction of Jude’s dream
A. Burning of religious books
B. Attempts at marriage
C. Jude’s speech at Christminster

Topic #3
Discuss the importance of churches and church architecture in Jude the Obscure.

I. Thesis Statement: Churches are focal points in Jude the Obscure.

II. Hardy’s architectural background
A. Training
B. Views

III. Jude’s occupation
A. Cathedral rebuilding in Christminster
B. Painting the ten commandments in Albrickham

IV. Churches as settings within the plot
A. Sue’s opinions on churches
B. Jude’s escape to a church in Marygreen
C. The wedding at Melchester
D. Sue’s retreat to St. Silas after the death of the children

Topic #4
Discuss the use of poetry in Jude the Obscure.

I. Thesis Statement: Poetry, particularly that of Shelley, adds a significant...

(The entire section is 1055 words.)