Suggested Essay Topics

At Marygreen
1. The author represents Jude as a naive young man who is lured into marriage by the more experienced and scheming Arabella. Discuss how the relationship between Jude and Arabella is similar to or different from modern day male-female relationships.

2. Religion and morality are woven through these early chapters, from the name of the university town to the permanence of the marriage bond. Pick several scenes using religious or moral imagery and themes and discuss them.

3. Education is Jude’s great goal. What mixture of dreams, escapism, and ambition drive him toward this goal? Discuss.

At Christminster
1. Discuss Hardy’s portrayal of the university. Use examples from the novel.

2. Both Jude and Phillotson attend the University in the hopes of advancing intellectually. Things did not turn out the way they had originally planned. Discuss the different ways in which these two characters deal with the hand they are dealt. How could the novel have been different?

3. Discuss Hardy’s treatment of marriage and romantic love in this section. Why did he treat his characters in that way? Do you agree or disagree with his treatment of marriage and love?

4. Characters in Jude the Obscure have different views about religion. Contrast the various views on religion expressed in “At Christminster.” Can there be one “right” view of religion? Explain.

At Melchester
1. Sue speaks with extreme bitterness when she discusses religion, marriage, and Christminster. Pick several examples of her views on these subjects and analyze what she means by her statements and why she feels the way she does.

2. Arabella is presented as coarse and crude, yet she seems to be free of the tortured conflicts that are making Jude and Sue nervous. Discuss the costs and benefits of chasing...

(The entire section is 780 words.)