Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Study Help Essay Questions

1. In what specific ways are Jude and Sue counterparts? Take into account their personalities, their interests, the way they respond to things in life. (See Part 3, Chapter 3, and Phillotson's comments in Part 4, Chapter 4.)

2. How has Hardy contrasted Sue and Arabella? Consider what is said or shown about their appearance, manner, speech, interests, etc.

3. Compare Jude and Phillotson in their role as "husband" to Sue (Jude, of course, is never legally married to her). What do they require of her? How do they act toward her? What do they allow her to do?

4. Examine the relationship between Phillotson and Gillingham. What purpose in the novel does the latter serve in his role of friend to Phillotson? (See, for example, Part 4, Chapter 4, and Part 6, Chapter 5.)

5. Take another minor character like Anny. In relation to Arabella, what purpose does she serve in the novel? (See, for example, Part 1, Chapter 9, and Part 5, Chapters 5, 8.)

6. Contrast the books that Jude and Sue read or have read. What do these reveal about the differences between them? (See, for example, Part 1, Chapter 6, and Part 3, Chapter 4.)

7. Examine what is revealed about Sue's childhood in Marygreen. Does this help in any way to explain what Sue is as an adult? (See Part 2, Chapter 6.)

8. Look at the comments on marriage in the conversation of the characters, especially Jude and Sue. What questions about the conventions of that institution are raised? (See, for example, Part 4, Chapters 2-4.)

9. Examine the comments on Christminster in the conversation of the characters, especially Sue. What questions about the nature and value of that educational institution are raised? (See, for example, Part 3, Chapter 4.)

10. Look at the comments on fate made by Jude, and Sue in the last part of the novel. In what way are they a questioning of conventional Christian beliefs? (See, for example, Part 6, Chapters 2-3.)

11. Suppose the novel were told entirely from the point of view of, say, Phillotson. In what ways would this change the nature and effect of the story?

12. For Jude the ridge-track near the Brown House outside Marygreen is a place full of significance for his life. Catalogue all the things that have happened to him here.

13. Mrs. Edlin may be thought of as a kind of local historian. List the reminiscences or anecdotes she relates in this role.

14. Study the first five paragraphs of Part 5, Chapter 7. This is a transitional passage summarizing the events occurring in the life of Jude and Sue for two and a half years, Is it effective? If not, explain. For example, has anything important been left out?

15. Is it a coincidence that Jude, Sue, Little Father Time, Arabella, Cartlett, Anny, and Vilbert all happen to be at the agricultural show in Stoke-Barehills at the same time? Or does the coming together of the characters grow naturally and necessarily out of the movement of the plot? (See Part 5, Chapter 5.)

16. It has been said that the death of the children is a sensational, melodramatic scene. What details of the scene support this contention? (See Part 6, Chapter 2.)

17. Take a brief scene like that in which Arabella gets Jude to make love to her. What is Hardy trying to show in this scene, and by what means does he accomplish his purpose? (See Part 1, Chapter 8.)

18. Examine the scene in which Jude and Sue go on an outing during her stay at the training college in Melchester. What events, character relationships, or aspects of the characters are foreshadowed during the course of this scene? (See Part 3, Chapter 2.)

19. Is it true that Jude and Sue experience exact reversals in their beliefs? For example, at the end of the novel does Jude believe precisely what Sue did at the beginning? If not, explain. (See, for example, Part 6, Chapters 1, 3.)

20. To what extent do Phillotson's beliefs change during the course of the novel? If there is any change, describe it in detail. (See, for example, Part 6, Chapters 4-5.)

21. Hardy said that his novel was a "tragedy of unfulfilled aims." Discuss the aims that go unfulfilled, specifically among the main characters.

22. Explain the meaning of the allusion to Samson and Delilah; then, do the same for another minor symbol in the novel. (Samson and Delilah first appears in Part 1, Chapter 7.)

23. Discuss the ways in which Jude's idea of Christminster affects other characters in the novel, particularly Sue and Arabella.

24. It has been said that the major symbol of Little Father Time is a failure. Document the reasons for this failure in detail. (See, for example, Part 5, Chapters 3-5, and Part 6, Chapter 2.)

25. Several instances of the use of irony which only the reader is aware of have been given; find additional examples.

26. Several instances of the use of irony which both the reader and the character are aware of have been given; find additional examples.

27. Try to justify the idea that in a tragic novel like this the use of irony is appropriate; support what you say by the use of instances of irony in the novel.

28. Find other examples, in addition to the one already given, of lapses in Hardy's style in the novel. Try to explain what is wrong with each example.

29. Find a passage in the novel in which Hardy's style is adequate to the occasion, and try to explain what is effective in his use of language.

30. Critics have said that this is the most modern of Hardy's novels. What twentieth-century novel does it seem similar to, even if only in part, and why?

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