Essay on The Critical Use of Suicide in Jude the Obscure

Essay on The Critical Use of Suicide in Jude the Obscure

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Islamic suicide bombers are a part of one of the few cultures who view suicide as an honorable and logical decision, but the majority of people recognize suicide as a horrific tragedy. However, regardless of one’s beliefs about suicide, it is undeniable how prevalent suicide is worldwide. Many authors purposefully include suicide in their literary works because of how common it is, as well as because it powerfully conveys characters’ inner- struggles. In his novel Jude the Obscure, author Thomas Hardy has multiple characters commit suicide; the reader learns early on that Jude’s mother committed suicide, Jude and Arabella’s son Little Father Time kills himself after killing his 2 siblings, and Jude indirectly commits suicide after losing the will to live. Hardy uses these suicides to criticize the society, show the rigid social structure, and illustrate the effects of prolonged isolation.
To begin, Hardy uses suicide to criticize society. The society of Hardy’s generation was full of religiously pretentious people who claimed to be perfect and expected the same from everyone around them. They clung to rules and were extremely judgmental and unforgiving. This led to people being placed under tremendous amounts of pressure to do the right thing all the time. This is exemplified in the novel when Jude, Sue and their out-of-wedlock children have a hard time finding a place to stay in London after they were driven out of their old town of Aldbrickham. No one is willing to take them in because of how scandalous their family is. In a moment of weakness, Sue talks to Little Father Time and inadvertently makes him think he is the reason why they are unable to find a boarding room; “’Then if children make so much trouble, why do people...


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...ary works, because suicide is a universal topic; 16 of every 100,000 deaths are suicides, allowing many readers to relate to it on an emotional level in the novel. This emotional connection the reader feels allows him/her to understand the character’s inner- struggles, which makes the author’s intended message very effective








Works Cited

Bolch, Judith. “Jude The Obscure”. Salem Press. Masterplots, Fourth Edition. November 2010.
Wessex, England. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. Nation Ford Media Center.
Edwards, Suzanne. "The Self-Conscious Child." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 15
Dec. 2013. Nation Ford Media Center.
Freedgood, Elaine. "Domestic Fiction." The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Ed.
David Scott Kastan. Vol. 2. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2006. 185. Print.
Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics,
2003. Print.

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