Jude the Obscure: The Relationship Between Point of View and Setting

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In part one chapter two of the novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy the author depends upon external narration shifting freely to external omniscient narration in order to provide sufficient information about the village in which the main character, Jude, lives. The setting, Marygreen is situated in the agricultural region of Wessex in the south west of England. In the beginning of this chapter the point of view shifts from that of the main character, Jude, to the point of view of his aunt, Mrs Fawley. This shifting narration constructs the ambience of Marygreen. The first part of this essay describes the oppressive nature of the place, where Jude resides. The external narrator depicts Marygreen as oppressive by intruding into the dialogue between the dominant characters, Jude’s aunt, and the villagers. The second part discusses the landscape setting and the events that are narrated from both Jude’s and an external omniscient point of view, which produce a representation of how the boy feels. The third part examines the use of external omniscience, which the narrator as authoritative voice reveals the setting of Marygreen and moreover establishes the reader perception of the boy’s place within this environment. The shifting point of view constructs Marygreen, partially, as an oppressive place which can be read as an analogy for Jude’s misfortunate life.

The narrator depicts the oppressive nature of Marygreen by intruding into the dialogue between the Mrs Fawley and the villagers. The aunt, at her private residence, entertains her village friends by talking about her nephew Jude. She constantly pities and undermines the boy. Her attitude towards Jude is exemplified in her statement; ‘It would ha’ been a blessing if Goddy-mighty...

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...vers who would not turn their heads to look at them by next harvest’ (9). The omniscient narrator implies that Jude, who is naive and inexperienced, may be trapped into the cycle of giving himself for the comfort of being loved. The reader learns later on that Jude’s ambitious is foreshadowed by Arabella, a crafty girl who seduces him into marriage.

In conclusion, the narrator by shifting into the minds of different characters and external omniscient narration manages to bring to the reader, the closest attributes of Jude’s character. It seems that no matter how determined Jude is with his vision and attempts to fit in, he is inventible to attract misunderstandings. Jude is perceived as the child of misfortune, continuing the faith of his ancestor deeds.

Works Cited

Hardy, T. (Ed.). (1993). Jude the Obscure. Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Edition Limited.

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