Theme Of Marriage In Thomas Hardy's Jude The Obscure

3193 Words13 Pages
In the Victorian era, marriage was an important social, legal and moral institution, which was entered upon by people to live a life accepted and controlled by the discourses of society. Love actually played a very minor role in the majority of the matrimonies which took place, and the engagement was entered into as one would approach a business deal. A good many number of novels in the Victorian period revolve around the concept of marriage as a socio-legal institution. In the Victorian novel marriage is preeminently the foundation of social stability. As a quasi-contractual agreement, it sets up the participants as a center for other integrating relationships. These relationships are not simply necessary for society; they constitute it. And that larger social and historical life, the world of symbolic relationships, forms in dialectical turn the structure that orders individual behavior in Hardy’s novels. (Ramon Saldivar, 615) Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, published in book form in 1895, has a common critical consensus that the presentation of ‘marriage’ in it has been performed through various literary tones including irony, diatribe, sarcasm, satire or direct criticism. “The two pairs of characters who are at the centre of the novel, are caught in the whirlpool of emotions and appear to be tossed continuously until they are crushed by them”. (Basavaraj Naikar, 163) When the novel was published in 1895, it was regarded by many to be Hardy’s contribution to the growing contemporary debate on the ‘marriage question’. According to William R. Goetz, “Marriage finds its place in this tragedy not only as a social theme but as an institution whose form lends itself to the shape of the novel Hardy is trying to write”. (Goetz, 192... ... middle of paper ... ... consequences of the double standard; the appalling effects of girls’ ignorance of marriage. Hardy’s treatment stands to this as Hamlet to the revenge play. (OUP Jude, xvii) The regression characterizing the last phase of the novel, thereby rendering its tragic note, arises from the exposure of the false alternative between the dictates of the social and of a natural way of life. Sue and Jude were just a little ahead of the common mass, a spirit of thought which can also be found in Hardy’s short poem, ‘The Recalcitrants’, which is perhaps directly related to this lamentation. The traditional canons of romance are therefore flouted as in an ‘anti-roman’. We are denied much of the aesthetic pleasure associated with fully realized imaginative creation. The writer is determined, beyond everything else that his vision shall grate on us. He exploits whatever will grate.
Open Document