While marriage is an ideal worth of human
attainment only when the common interests and aspirations of the couple are
mutually adjustable. It is an act of psychological harmony and spiritual
adventure. According to Hardy the aim of marriage is not only sexual
gratification, but also the happiness of the individual. In Victorian age the
moral and social code did not allow the freedom of love and marriage. In Jude the Obscure the legal marriage of
Judge to Arabella and Phillotson to Sue are legitimate in the eyes of the law
and society, but they are shallow and even torturous. On the other hand, Jude
and Sue are perfectly ideal couple, though the laws and society do not permit
them to live as husband and wife. By presenting Sue Bridehead a strong
reactionary in the beginning and a much-subdued woman towards the close of the
novel, Hardy perhaps intended to reiterate that the social and conventional
attitudes so deeply ingrained in human consciousness, prove too powerful for a
woman like Sue. Here Hardy demonstrates the moral crisis of Jude and Sue
arising out of the clash between their liberated aspirations and conventional
attitudes. It was rather the tremendous pull of the conventional attitudes
which failed Sue in her rebellion against the sterile marriage laws. On the one
hand he is making a critical examination of the marriage laws and educational
system dominated by socio-economic factors and on the other hand he seems to be
arguing through the tragic experience of Jude and Sue that the conventional
attitudes deeply rooted in their consciousness, overpower on all their fight
against the irrational system of marriage relationship and higher education.
Hardy as a novelist, talks about seriously, the major problems or major issues
of Victorian age, which could destroy and bring disharmony in almost every
society. His being concerned of major problems makes his novels interesting as
well instructive. He demands liberty for females, and suggests for equality in
social, political and legal matters.
William R. Rutland, Thomas Hardy: A study of his writings and
York : Russell and Russell Inc., 1962).
Ernest E. Baker, The history of English Novel, Vol. IX,
York : Barnes and Noble Inc., 1938).
Douglas Brown, Thomas Hardy, (Longman’s Green and Co.
Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel,
(London: Hutchinson university, Library,
H.C. Duffin, Thomas Hardy: A Study of Wessex Novels, (London: Manchester
University Press, 1916)