Both of the novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude, the Obscure, written by Thomas Hardy are full of hardships and broken hearts. Many of the characters are hurtful and in return hurt badly. Each of Hardy’s novels seem to portray an underlining feeling of aversion towards marriage. In each of his novels most of the marriages are unfulfilling and don’t work out.
Each marriage in the novels ends up as disastrous with the exception of Elizabeth and Farfrae in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Jude and Arabaella’s marriage was not a normal marriage just as was Susan and Henchard’s. Sue’s and Phillotson was wrong because Sue still loved Jude just as in Farfrae’s and Lucetta’s marriage was wrong because Lucetta had not told him the truth of everything. Thomas Hardy seems to have a bitter outlook on relation ships.
Several of his characters in each novel have love affairs and then quickly change their minds. In Mayor of Casterbridge it is Farfrae that seems to be fickle between Lucetta and Elizabeth Jane. In Jude, the Obscure it is Sue who is extremely fickle. She can’t seem to decide on what she really wants. She starts out with Phillotson and then goes to Jude from there she goes back to Phillotson.
Each of the novels also experience some sort of death. In the mayor of Casterbridge the big death was Susan. In Jude, the Obscure the big death scene was three children rather then just one person. Jude’s other child, Father Time, kills Sue and Jude’s two children by hanging because he thought that Sue and Jude would be better off without any children.
In the beginning of the Mayor of Casterbridge there is a parting between Susan and Hechard that also ends up as one of the biggest mistakes of the hero. This too is shown in Jude, the Obscure when Jude marries Arabella, the whole relationship was based more on lust than on love. This too is Jude’s first and biggest mistake. Jude is then forced by his honorable nature to marry her when she tells him that she is pregnant, a lie only to capture him. This forced marriage is similar to Henchard’s and Susan’s forced marriage once she finds him in Casterbridge and lies to him about Elizabeth Jane being his child. Each relationship built off a lie.
Throughout Jude’s childhood he is much like Elizabeth Jane when she was feeling unwanted by Henchard. Jude feels this through the mistreatment of his aunt in which she calls him useless and worthless. Jude is also like Elizabeth Jane in a positive quality with his drive to learn. Like Elizabeth Jane he takes his learning into his own hands and searches out texts and books to read. He learns Latin and Greek on his own with out any help, quite a feat for anyone of his upbringing.
As Jude grows older he decides to move to Christminster and to look for his cousin Sue. This searching scene reminds me of Susan searching for Henchard in Casterbridge. Both Susan and Jude once they find their family members watch them before they contact them. Then when they do finally have contact it is through notes in both circumstances. Neither meet each other in person the first time but rather set up a physical meeting at symbolic places for both circumstances. In the Mayor of Casterbridge the meeting place is a large coliseum, where no one goes anymore, a quiet dark place. Where Jude and Sue meet it is near a cross where heretics and people who have unorthodox views were burned at the stake. This overshadows their relationship with a bad omen with the fact that Sue doesn’t believe in God as she should.
Once Jude finally is with Sue they live a life not unlike Susan and Henchard’s life in the beginning of the novel. Each couple wanders from here to there finding work. The difference is that Susan and Hencard were married whereas Jude and Sue were not even though they had three children. Also Jude and Sue are often turned down because of their marital status. It was socially unacceptable at that time to not be married and to have children. Many of Jude’s jobs were lost when the employer found out their secret and the “family” was forced to move on.
As Jude becomes an adult he changes characters from more of an Elizabeth type to a Henchard type. Like Henchard, when his life isn’t going quite right, he drinks his sorrows away at the local pub. He begins to get friends that are drinking buddies that encourage the behavior. This is seen several times throughout each of the novels. Also like Henchard he knows Sue does not want to see him even though he loves her he stays away and does not ask her to visit him while he is dieing. In the end Jude dies just as Henchard did, alone and unloved by all those he loved, and aware of it.
Thomas Hardy incorporates many of the same sorts of themes into each of his novels. Whether it is the disagreeable outlook on marriage or the view on big cities, each is tied into his books. Each of his novels also has had more of a depressing tone with endings that are not really very happy. Each of them seem to also be based on one particular city.
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