Jude the Obscure was an evil, evil book written by Thomas Hardy some time ago. Nearly every college level Literature professor, and I use the term loosely, has inflicted this travesty on their unsuspecting students.

Reduced to its lowest terms, this book is about a guy whose life sucks. Horribly. The reader is forced to wonder why the author doesn't simply put this character out of his misery. For instance, he meets his first wife when she throws a pig penis at him. The two manage to get married, and she eventually leaves him because he is an ineffectual loser. Another instance of how bad this character has it is when he actually tries to commit suicide, but merely comes down with pneumonia. This is, of course, not enough to actually kill him. The remaining characters in the book go downhill rapidly from there.

His second girlfriend is also his cousin, hinting that this book is set, not in England, but in West Virginia. They have two children, but Jude's child by his first wife comes back, and kills the other two as well as himself. He leaves a badly mispelled suicide note, "Done because we are too menny". Somehow the tragedy is supposed to be amplified by this, but the reader, having been inured by mishap after mishap can only chuckle derisively. Aargh! That's not funny, it's not even tragic...

Finally, Jude dies, and the book, thankfully, ends. However, the horror doesn't end there. The hapless student, for I cannot imagine anyone reading this book voluntarily, must then analyze the book. When the world of Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 comes about, I will be at the front of the book burning line, carrying a baker's dozen or so copies of this book.

Jude the Obscure written by Thomas Hardy is the most powerful and despairing of his novels, and I also think that it is one of the best books ever written. The novel was first published in 1896. Sure when it first came out it was burned by a Bishop because it made fun of the Church near the end. When Sue Bridehead, Jude's cousin (whom he has kids with but never marries) becomes highly religious after the death of their children and decides to return to her ex-husband Mr. Phillotson.

Jude Fawley, is a stone-mason, whose academic ambitions are thwarted by poverty and the indifference of the authorities at Christminster, appears to find fulfillment in his relationship with Sue Bridehead. Both of them have fled from previous marriages, and together they share a 'two-in-oneness' rarely matched. Ironically, when tragedy strikes it is Sue, the modern, emancipated thinker who is unequal to the challenge, and Jude the dreamer that becomes strong.

The novel takes a serious look on unmarried couples who have children in the late 19th century to the early 20th century, and how they are treated by society. It also presents the situation when the past comes back to haunt the present, in the case of Jude Fawley's son with his first wife who disturbingly mirrors Jude (his nickname being Father Time), he is an intelligent eight year old child who reflects on life and thinks of his parents situation that he becomes ultimately depressed and kills himself and his two younger sisters thinking that he would make it easier for Sue and Jude. The death of the children is what tears Sue and Jude apart, unfortunately it was also the day that they were finally going to get married after putting the idea off many times because of an old family curse: that the Fawley's always have bad marriages. This novel also takes a serious look at the effects of tragedy and depression and how people treat it or cope with it.

A recent movie was made based on the book called Jude that is directed by Michael Winterbottom and stars Kate Winslet, Christopher Eccleston, and Rachel Griffiths.

*Side notes

- Jude doesn't try to kill himself, when Sue leaves him he becomes depressed and very ill with pneumonia (he was waiting out in the snow for Sue, always watching her), he eventually dies of dehydration because his first wife who was suppose to be taking care of him wasn't there to give him water.

- Arabella his first wife throws a pig heart at him, and he marries her because she tricks him into thinking that she was pregnant.

- His son doesn't have good spelling because he never went to school but is strangely intelligent and reflective.

- He never marries Sue, his cousin

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