There are many prominent themes that run throughout the film Jude - the themes of love and marriage and what's socially accepted are two of the most prevalent. As these themes, among others, are portrayed throughout the film, it is blatantly clear that the society in which Jude, and his cousin / "wife" Sue, are confined within, has their own set beliefs regarding what is right and what is wrong. These "social bindings" are inflicted upon Jude and Sue both individually and as "husband and wife" throughout the film.
One of the very first scenes in the film shows Jude and Phillotson, his schoolmaster, walking together. Apparently, Phillotson is leaving the small town of Marygreen and is headed for Christminster to attend the university for young men. Jude is told when he is barely twelve years old that "if he wants to do anything in life, he must go to Christminster - even if it means giving up everything else for awhile." Once he is at Christminster, everything will be open to him; "he can become anything he wants, choose his future." Jude now sees Christminster as an "enlightened place of learning". He associates it with his many dreams of higher education and his vague notions of academic success. Immediately, we see the confines of society. From such a young age, Jude is told that in order for his life to have some kind of purpose and meaning, he must attend the University at Christminster. From that moment on, his entire life is centered around his studies and his aspiration to leave Marygreen and go to Christminster. To society, this university is equated with excellence and social prominence - Jude is also led to believe that his admission to the university will bring him complete and ...
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...tion of marriage - what is believed at the time to be "proper" - she must return to the man she first married in the eyes of God. On another level, she might feel that she needs to punish herself for the suffering her children endured by forcing herself into a life of unhappiness.
This film stressed how the two main characters were bound by societal standards. Sue believes that the only way she can live a "true life" is to accept that by living with Jude she would be defying God. Her only recourse was to return to her ex-husband. In a society unwilling to accept their "rejection of convention", they are ostracized. The children are also victims of society's unwillingness to accept Jude and Sue as husband and wife. This rejection by society, coupled with Sue's own feelings of shame over her divorce, help to destroy not only lives, but any hope for happiness.
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