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Archived Group Reads 2014 > Jude The Obscure - Book One At Marygreen (week 1)

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Please post your thoughts here for Book 1.


message 2: by Lily (last edited Apr 27, 2014 04:48PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian...

Supposedly the setting for Marygreen Church. (Be wary of a spoiler in the text if you care about such things.)


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Shades of Tess, where one small mis-step, one misjudgment of another, can lead to disastrous consequences, only this time it is the man, rather than the woman, who suffers.

How realistic is it that Jude would almost instantly, and without apparent regret at the moment, throw over his long-cherished dream, his dedication to learning, for a girl? What is Hardy saying here about the power of sex on the young? And is it really any different today??

And what can we say of Arabella? (In case it wasn't apparent, BTW, the item she threw across the hedge at Jude was the male organ of the pig.)


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Does anybody else see echoes of Adam and Eve in the Jude and Arabella relationship?

The innocent man led astray by the scheming woman -- it is such a hackneyed theme, and yet Hardy really seems to me to make it work.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Hardy was criticized at time for immorality, yet his actual scenes of "the act" are remarkably circumspect.

In Jude, all we get is, at the end of Chapter 8,
"But she had jumped up too. "You must find me first!" she cried.

Her lover followed her as she withdrew. It was now dark inside the room, and the window being small he could not discover for a long time what had become of her, till a laugh revealed her to have rushed up the stairs, whither Jude rushed at her heels."

Then at the start of Chapter 9:

""I am going away," he said to her. "I think I ought to go. I think it will be better both for you and for me. I wish some things had never begun! I was much to blame, I know. But it is never too late to mend."

Arabella began to cry. "How do you know it is not too late?" she said. "That's all very well to say! I haven't told you yet!" and she looked into his face with streaming eyes.

"What?" he asked, turning pale. "Not…?"

"Yes! And what shall I do if you desert me?""

All the intervening events are left to our imagination to fill in.

The same veil is drawn over the critical event of Tess:

D'Urberville stooped; and heard a gentle regular breathing. He knelt and bent lower, till her breath warmed his face, and in a moment his cheek was in contact with hers. She was sleeping soundly, and upon her eyelashes there lingered tears.

Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around. Above them rose the primeval yews and oaks of The Chase, in which there poised gentle roosting birds in their last nap; and about them stole the hopping rabbits and hares. But, might some say, where was Tess's guardian angel? where was the providence of her simple faith? Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked.

Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man, many thousand years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order. One may, indeed, admit the possibility of a retribution lurking in the present catastrophe. Doubtless some of Tess d'Urberville's mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their time. But though to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children may be a morality good enough for divinities, it is scorned by average human nature; and it therefore does not mend the matter.

As Tess's own people down in those retreats are never tired of saying among each other in their fatalistic way: "It was to be." There lay the pity of it. An immeasurable social chasm was to divide our heroine's personality thereafter from that previous self of hers who stepped from her mother's door to try her fortune at Trantridge poultry-farm.


message 6: by Lily (last edited Apr 28, 2014 06:36PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments I thought this discussion was about Jude. Why what some might consider a spoiler out of Tess, other than to point a parallel technique of "same veil"?


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "I thought this discussion was about Jude. Why what some might consider a spoiler out of Tess, other than to point a parallel technique of "same veil"?"

I thought the comparison and contrast was worth noting. Sorry if it offended.

It's pretty much impossible to make meaningful comparisons with other works of literature without spoilers creeping in. But since I believe that no work of literature (except maybe the very earliest) stands alone, but that Western literature, at least, is interconnected, I think it is sometimes valuable to make such comparisons between works.

If this isn't acceptable to the moderators of this group, though, of course I will stop.


message 8: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
I think comparison is useful. In fact, I quite often see parallels drawn between the novels of Tess and Jude. And agree with Everyman that a little comparison can add depth to our discussion. (I believe this group read Tess together not long ago.)
However, I don't think we should indulge in quoting long tracts from either book. And, of course, our focus here should be on Jude.


message 9: by Lily (last edited Apr 29, 2014 07:42AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "I thought the comparison and contrast was worth noting. Sorry if it offended...."

More amused than offended. [g] You and I have discussed books together over enough years to know that you have always been the stickler on spoilers whereas I have tended to want the discussions to open up and include wider comparisons of literature for the invaluable understandings that I think readers can offer each other if they need not be overly concerned about their fellow readers having the view that a good book can indeed be read multiple times, but the first time, only once! ;-o (I've been chided on spoilers probably far more times than you over the years, including by you, so there may be a bit of perverse teasing here, too!)

Furthermore, we both know probably no passage in Tess (or in much of Victorian literature) is any more controversial and capable of eliciting adversarial positions than the one you quote. So, I am biased in the direction of minimizing its impact, at least initially, on a reading of Jude. Especially since I believe at least one young, voracious reader here has not yet read Tess, and I hesitate to see her reading overly influenced by a side discussion here.

Having opened the subject, I do still hope you will later return to greater explanation to your "whys" for eliciting comparison between the novels, especially as such illumines our understanding of Jude. (Incidentally, certainly not all read Genesis as the "hackneyed theme" of "innocent man led astray by the scheming woman." Still, whether that is a theme Hardy uses, exploits, or plumbs may or may not be of interest to some here.) Questions I ask about the novel include, in what ways can Arabella be considered an empathetic character? In what ways is Jude strong, in what ways weak? What are the roles "larger society" plays and in what ways? Who might have "interfered" differently in these lives and why didn't they, beyond that was what the author decreed? What might Hardy want readers to take away from this novel? (Readers of his own day? Readers in some faraway future -- what is universal about this story? Is any of it "time-bound"?)


message 10: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Renee wrote: "..(I believe this group read Tess together not long ago.) ..."

Renee -- the "Read" bookshelf suggests Tess was read by this group in March-April, 2012. I think you do raise the interesting question as to whether a group should be more open to cross-comparisons among books that it has read as a group than it might be to other comparisons.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "You and I have discussed books together over enough years to know that you have always been the stickler on spoilers"

True. And there were no spoilers about Jude!


message 12: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "Questions I ask about the novel include, in what ways can Arabella be considered an empathetic character? In what ways is Jude strong, in what ways weak? What are the roles "larger society" plays and in what ways? Who might have "interfered" differently in these lives and why didn't they, beyond that was what the author decreed?"

Great questions!

Did you mean is Arabella empathetic as a character, which is what the grammar suggests, or did you mean whether we can feel empathy for her? If the former, my answer is no. Not at all.

But if the latter, I can feel empathy for her desire to snag a husband, since it is the only way she could get away from her father's house, and it seems that maybe he's as eager to get rid of her as she is to get away from him. But I can hardly approve of her methods, though I admire her for being smart enough to choose a man with enough integrity to do the right thing under the apparent circumstances rather than just washing his hands of her and moving on.


message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "Having opened the subject, I do still hope you will later return to greater explanation to your "whys" for eliciting comparison between the novels, "

As soon as you can explain how I can do this without revealing any spoilers about Tess! [g]


message 14: by Peter (last edited Apr 29, 2014 06:06PM) (new)

Peter Everyman wrote: "Does anybody else see echoes of Adam and Eve in the Jude and Arabella relationship?

The innocent man led astray by the scheming woman -- it is such a hackneyed theme, and yet Hardy really seems t..."


Everyman

The Garden. A man, a woman ... There will always be some echo, and perhaps some hackneyed feel to such a setting, but often such settings/events function as a form of allusion to the universal links among various works of literature, so I say yes to your point. With towns with the name of Christminister, phrases such as "the unvoiced call of woman to man," the entering of gardens through gates (albeit that smell of piggeries,) and references in the first section to Dido, Sampson and Delilah Hardy is inviting the reader to enjoy his novel beyond the level of plot.


message 15: by Peter (last edited Apr 30, 2014 07:01AM) (new)

Peter Lily wrote: "Everyman wrote: "I thought the comparison and contrast was worth noting. Sorry if it offended...."

More amused than offended. [g] You and I have discussed books together over enough years to know ..."


Lily

I like your question about Arabella. I don't have much empathy for her to this point in the novel. It seems to me that Hardy has shown her to be false on three major fronts to date. First, the situation with her false hair, then her revelation of having been, to some degree of definition, a barmaid, and finally the reader finds out she is not pregnant. Jude, by being unaware of these events and facts could be seen as naïve, partly culpable or even to blame, but, to me, Hardy has, in this section, seen few, if any redeeming qualities in Arabella.


When Hardy comments on the false hair readers could see Arabella in different lights. There is nothing wrong with a country lass wanting to be a town lady, and nothing wrong with her wearing the attachment. When we compound this event with the revelation of her barmaid days that she withholds from Jude (and we know from M of C that E-J's standing partly pivoted on her service or non-service days as a barmaid) and these events are compounded by the fact that she is not pregnant, we see Hardy not presenting the reader with an isolated event, but rather revealing a trend of events that confront Jude within a short period of time. Arabella's selling of Jude's wedding portrait at the end of the first section is, I think, the final leverage that Hardy presents his readers to decide how much, or how little empathy we should have for her.

We are early in this novel, but to this point I do not have any empathy for her.


message 16: by Lily (last edited Apr 29, 2014 07:48PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "Lily wrote: "You and I have discussed books together over enough years to know that you have always been the stickler on spoilers"

True. And there were no spoilers about Jude!"


FYI. The time I was most bitterly roasted for a so-called spoiler was a time when I made a comparison between two Wharton novels. I didn't even say the spoiler (yes, on the other novel), but was told it could be guessed from what I did say. Eventually, nicely enough, several people came to my defense. But I shall never forget that experience. ;-)


message 17: by Lily (last edited Apr 29, 2014 07:43PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "Lily wrote: "Having opened the subject, I do still hope you will later return to greater explanation to your "whys" for eliciting comparison between the novels, "

As soon as you can explain how I ..."


That's a tough one -- I don't know the point you are trying to make about Jude/Hardy and whether it can be made without spoilers re Tess. Maybe you can't -- either way, with or without spoilers, I shall enjoy watching what you choose to do. :-)


message 18: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
Peter-
Those are great points. I agree that all those details seem to add up to the implication that Arabella is a manipulative, even selfish character. But, I also like Everyman's point that she can be seen as using what she has to survive. Even if her methods are repugnant. I can't like her, but I'm reserving judgement for now. Hardy has a way of creating characters who elicit my censure one minute, then my sympathy, then my admiration, then my censure again. (as in The Mayor of Casterbridge) These multiple layers/facets make them seem all the more realistic.


message 19: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Peter wrote: "...Jude, by being unaware of these events and facts could be seen as naïve, partly culpable or even to blame, but, to me, Hardy has, in this section, seen few, if any redeeming qualities in Arabella...."

I quite agree -- or at least portrayed any in such a way as to readily garner sympathy. It would be so easy to dislike Arabella, at least the things she does. Yet there is something about the very abjectness of her situation that makes me ask how Hardy sees her and whether he had a particular way he wanted his reader to feel about her. And whether they, in the end, do feel as he wanted. (Or was that part of his supposed disappointment with the receipt of the novel -- do his readers "get" what he is trying to say -- and what is that?)


message 20: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: " Eventually, nicely enough, several people came to my defense."

I'm sure I would have been one of them if I had been there, but since I don't care much for Wharton, I probably wasn't.


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Renee wrote: "Hardy has a way of creating characters who elicit my censure one minute, then my sympathy, then my admiration, then my censure again. (as in The Mayor of Casterbridge) These multiple layers/facets make them seem all the more realistic. "

Great point. Yes, Hardy does excel in creating multilayered characters who are as complex as "real" people are. There are few if any (I can't offhand think of any) stereotypes or uni-sided characters in Hardy.


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments In the end, of course, Arabella winds up not being satisfied with her catch. Her expectations were clearly not based on any understanding of his true character or interests.

There was a ditty my mother used to sing when I was very young which seems apt here:

You only want it 'cause you haven't got it,
You never asked me for it yesterday,
And if you could have had it
You'd find the thing's expired
So you're better off without it anyway.


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments While most of us, I think, feel down on Arabella for the trick she played, let's not forget that she could only play it because Jude followed her up those stairs, and didn't have the backbone, or whatever, to say no.


message 24: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
Well said, Everyman!
Just like Adam and the apple!


message 25: by Peter (new)

Peter I agree with the above comments and warnings that it is too early to come to any definitive decision about Arabella or any other character in the novel. Part One has etched out some characteristics of Arabella and Jude but there is much to come.


message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Renee wrote: "Well said, Everyman!
Just like Adam and the apple!"


Renee

As Milton wrote "Sufficient to stand, though free to fall" Your comment in response to Everyman about Adam and the apple really does highlight the first part of the novel.


message 27: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 188 comments I agree with Renee about Hardy's characters. As others have said also it is too early to pass judgment. Having said that, I feel bound to say that Arabella is a horrid little girl! I know I'm twisted and may eventually believe that she's an angel from heaven.

Oh and Everyman, I haven't read Tess. This is only my second Hardy. Feel free to spoil away as far as I'm concerned as I have a memory like a sieve. For example, as I seem to have bitten off far more than I can chew I had thought I'd give M C a miss for the Pickwick club as I had read it before. I picked it up to have a glance at it last night and, lo and behold, it's like a new book to me!!!

Oh concerning 'Jude' the scene about the pig killing was decidedly uncomfortable. Jude's compassion shone through. I watched a similar scene in rural Ireland many years back where a cow had been hit by a car. The farmer called the vet in the middle of the night. I foolishly accompanied him. The farmer wanted the vet to 'bleed' the cow, otherwise the meat would be worthless. I watched transfixed as the poor beast's life's blood was drained from him. Not a proud moment. It makes me shiver to think of it. It wasn't until many years later that another vet told me that such an action was illegal. I couldn't believe that I had simply trusted the vet's integrity.


message 28: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Hilary wrote: "Oh concerning 'Jude' the scene about the pig killing was decidedly uncomfortable. Jude's compassion shone through."

Yes. It reminds us of his letting the crows eat the corn (in England, corn doesn't mean maize but means grain generally, so it could have been wheat or barley he was protecting) he was being paid to protect.

But he was perfectly willing to eat meat that other people had killed and slaughtered. And he expected grain to be available to make bread for him to eat.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Hilary wrote: "Having said that, I feel bound to say that Arabella is a horrid little girl!"

She was certainly scheming. And dishonest. And manipulative. But all of that in the pursuit of what she saw as necessary to her happiness. Given her limited options, and the necessity of getting married if she were ever to get free of her parents house and control (unless she was willing to take up some totally disreputable work like permanent bartending, or worse, single women in farm country having virtually no potential), I find it difficult to be too harsh on her.


message 30: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 188 comments Yes, I get what you're saying. In many ways her actions are 'fair enough', but despite all of that (from a conservative viewpoint) she is a little manipulator. (See how I try to distance myself from any political affiliation). Brackets are such a godsend.


message 31: by Peter (new)

Peter Hilary wrote: "Yes, I get what you're saying. In many ways her actions are 'fair enough', but despite all of that (from a conservative viewpoint) she is a little manipulator. (See how I try to distance myself f..."

Hi Hilary

As you use brackets, I use ellipses. In that way readers can fill in their own ideas or conclusions ;>)

If we reflect back on M of C we see that Hardy does have a habit of re-introducing his characters further in the novel, and often they come back in new circumstances. I'm bracing for round two of Arabella and Jude.


message 32: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 188 comments Well, thanks Peter, I look forward to that...ever the optimist! ;)


message 33: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Much as I can dislike Arabella's actions, she does lead me to ask what does it mean to be human in circumstances like hers and what should be the relationships of society to her. (Certainly the ones Jude chooses or is trapped into don't serve either of them particularly well.) A bit like the more horrific and baffling headlines we see day in and day out.


message 34: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 187 comments I think for Arabella the enjoyment is in the chase. I think she studied Jude and perhaps knew that he would fall for her antics and she is playing him like a fiddle. Jude lacks the self discipline needed to concentrate on his ultimate goal which is to go to university; his studies which he hopes will get him there; his job; and Arabella's attention all at the same time.


message 35: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 188 comments Peter, I confess I don't know to what you are referring concerning the use of ellipses over brackets. (I do know what ellipses are, well to a point or three!). See what I did there, dem dern brackets again. If you have the time I would appreciate a grammatical explanation. I'm not sure that I have encountered them being used with any sort of purpose in mind. Or maybe that's only in UK/Ireland. Or then indeed, quite possibly I was asleep during that particular class.


message 36: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
Peter and Hilary,
Entertaining and illuminating as the grammatical lessons may be... Let's stick with Jude. Also, anything you do with brackets is pretty much lost on those of us accessing via smartphone.

Whimsical,
I wonder if this will be Jude's struggle throughout the book, as Henchard struggled with his quick temper in M of C. Will Jude's better nature/better impulses be thwarted by his weaknesses and, of course, the impact of those choices?

I keep remembering the fellow from the play, The Corn Is Green.


message 37: by Mark (new)

Mark | 1 comments Arabella is devious and cunning. She uses tricks to get something that is as unsuitable for her as it is for Jude. I think that is Hardy's point. He calls Jude "predestinate" and controlled by "transitory instinct." It is not because he is naïve or lacks will power or makes a bad choice. He has no choice. The same force controls Arabella who has a totally different character.


message 38: by Peter (new)

Peter Hardy highlights the importance and value of books to Jude in this first section. To Jude, books represent knowledge and a world beyond his experience. When Arabella throws Jude's books to the floor with her grease stained hands, the action defines both their different values and suggests that by tracking Jude's relationship with books the reader may well be able to see, most clearly, Jude's destiny.


message 39: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 188 comments Oops Renee, I forgot that this wasn't school! Strangely my smartphone loves its brackets. Excuse transgression. I shall pursue another source for my answer.


message 40: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "Much as I can dislike Arabella's actions, she does lead me to ask what does it mean to be human in circumstances like hers and what should be the relationships of society to her. "

Great question. I find that Hardy, by focusing his attention on normal rural folk (unlike most other Victorian authors -- in fact, is there any other Victorian author who writes so extensively about fairly ordinary country folk?) reminds us how great the control of our environments is. We like to think that "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul," but even if that were true, the range of what one's fate can be or where one can steer one's soul to was very much limited in Hardy's time* What would Arabella have been had she been born the child of a duke and duchess?

Henley gives us one side of the coin, glittering and full of promise. But Hardy gives us the coin of real life, dirty, bent, nicked, hard used.

* And is still profoundly limited today. What would I be like if I had been born to a Mafia family in Southern Italy?


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Mark wrote: " I think that is Hardy's point. He calls Jude "predestinate" and controlled by "transitory instinct." It is not because he is naïve or lacks will power or makes a bad choice. He has no choice. "

That's well said. I'm not sure it's no choice, but it's a choice in which the degree of willpower it would take to choose a different course is beyond Jude's power.

And don't we see many young people today in the same throes and toils of adolescence making bad decisions where they are, or at least feel, helpless to do otherwise? Is Hardy presenting Jude as everyman here? Is he suggesting that the best laid schemes of men must necessarily gang agley on the rocks of primal sexual desire?


message 42: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 187 comments Peter wrote: "Hardy highlights the importance and value of books to Jude in this first section. To Jude, books represent knowledge and a world beyond his experience. When Arabella throws Jude's books to the flo..."

I think the issue of the class structure is evident here and I will explain. Jude is hoping to pull himself up by getting an education which will propell him into the "middle class" and it seems to truly be his focus --" Dreams about books, and degrees and impossible fellowships and all that" he says to Isabella when she told him of her pregnancy. This eventual fellowship would earn him a place in the class structure that he so deeply needs to be apart of (evident I think in the idealization of his former teacher and obsession with Christminister). Except he allows himself to be side tracked and she has no desire to "better herself" for want of a more apt phrase. She sets her trap and he walked right into it!


message 43: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 187 comments Renee wrote: "Peter and Hilary,
Entertaining and illuminating as the grammatical lessons may be... Let's stick with Jude. Also, anything you do with brackets is pretty much lost on those of us accessing via smar..."


It perhaps is, as Jude seem powerless under Arabella' spell for lack of a better word.


message 44: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "...Is he suggesting that the best laid schemes of men must necessarily gang agley on the rocks of primal sexual desire? ..."

Maybe not "necessarily", but it certainly seems Hardy is telling a tale of the possibilities, even more than one such tale. Although I'm not quite certain what constitutes "primal" and what would stand in contrast to it -- at least something other than sublimated or denied or redirected or ... I don't sense you are implying "uncontrolled" by "primal," but perhaps more "overwhelming" of other drives?


message 45: by Lily (last edited May 03, 2014 04:29PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Whimsical wrote: " Jude is hoping to pull himself up by getting an education which will propel him into the "middle class" and it seems to truly be his focus --" Dreams about books, and degrees and impossible fellowships and all that" he says to Isabella when she told him of her pregnancy. ..."

I quite agree that issues of class structure are evident here, but I am not certain that Jude is so concerned about attaining "middle class" as he is about doing and participating in the activities that use his brain (reading and study and ...) more than his brawn (stone cutting and laying). But he doesn't have a sense what attaining that former would require -- no role models in his family nor mentors exist to inform or guide him. (Is the same lack largely true for his sexual behavior?) And, I agree that if Jude could make that transition (as Hardy did from architect to writer), he could probably "enter the middle class." Although a case exists that "bettering himself" is a goal of Jude's, it's like he has little idea what it would mean or require to be a teacher or professional of the caliber that would satisfy him -- he becomes disappointed by those he gets to know.

Now, a key question is still that of "class" and how does such play into Jude's chances for "success," somewhat like Eman's about what would Arabella as daughter of aristocracy (with the same or similar personality) have been like. To what extent is it "class" that stops Jude, similar to how even today only people of certain backgrounds tend to get promoted up the management lines of any given university or religious group or corporation?


message 46: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 187 comments Lily wrote: "Whimsical wrote: " Jude is hoping to pull himself up by getting an education which will propel him into the "middle class" and it seems to truly be his focus --" Dreams about books, and degrees and..."

Lily, I agree with the points made, however, isn't that how the circle of proverty perpetuates itself through generations--not having the funds, the mentor, the drive and the focus to stick to that goal that will perhaps be the start of elevating oneself. It is early in the book yet and I don't know if the author will touch on the social issues of the time which kept persons like Jude from elevating himself. Not to remove the responsibility of his circumstance from him (getting a young girl pregnant etc) but it is exactly because he lacks access to all the resources that you mention why he is in the place that he is at the moment?

I can't help but feel that people in that small town because of the lack of resources learned via word-of-mouth, which was unreliable at best. Arabella's thought that her behavior was acceptable, case in point, when she removed her hair piece, and Jude being surprise that she wore one, she replied "O no -it never is nowadays with the better class". Shows perhaps how sadly lacking they were with resources?? Seems they were removed from persons that were well off or well-to-do_Jude had to send for his reading material and travel far away to find work.


message 47: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "I quite agree that issues of class structure are evident here, but I am not certain that Jude is so concerned about attaining "middle class" as he is about doing and participating in the activities that use his brain (reading and study and ...) more than his brawn (stone cutting and laying)."

That was my thought also. He doesn't ever seem to mention moving up in status as his goal, but rather he wants to learn, to emulate his schoolteacher, to follow in his footsteps as an educated man.


message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments BTW, I was interested that the successor to Phillotson as teacher was never, unless I missed it, named or talked about. The rector went away for the day (how weird!) planning not to return "till the evening, when the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and everything would be smooth again."

But who is this new school teacher, and is he or she any friend of Jude? Isn't it strange that, though Jude was only 11 when Philloston left, and presumably kept up his schooling after that for at least a few years, none of that is ever mentioned?


message 49: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Thinking of Lily's point (about Jude worrying more about using his mind than about rising in status), I came across this, which seems to emphasize the point. At the end of Book 1 Chapter 3 we find Jude musing, after Philloston has left:

"It is a city of light," he said to himself.

"The tree of knowledge grows there," he added a few steps further on.

"It is a place that teachers of men spring from and go to."

"It is what you may call a castle, manned by scholarship and religion."

After this figure he was silent a long while, till he added:

"It would just suit me."


message 50: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 187 comments Everyman wrote: "BTW, I was interested that the successor to Phillotson as teacher was never, unless I missed it, named or talked about. The rector went away for the day (how weird!) planning not to return "till th..."

Could it be, he had a special relationhship with Philloston? Also, Jude was not a full-time student, so he might have had an arrangement with Philloston which could not be honoured after he left for Christminister.

I don't think Jude ever mentions, at least thus far, actually wanting to be elevated, thus improving his status, but I think that it was implied. At least, that what I feel. Because, if that was not his intention, he would have been satisfied with marrying Arabella. I think, the reader is able to see what his thoughts are (I don't know how to express that any clearer) and he seems to think along these lines but does not express it to anyone. Perhaps, had his teacher stayed around he might have had someone to talk to but as of now he does not. Am I reading into things too much?


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