Jude the Obscure Characters

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Jude Fawley

Jude Fawley is a young orphan who has recently come to Marygreen to live with his aunt when the novel begins. Jude's aunt often tells him he should have died with his father; therefore, Jude grows up feeling unwanted and in the way. For this reason, Jude focuses on his future with the hopes of one day gaining an education like Mr. Phillotson, a teacher he once admired. Jude works hard toward his goal, but is sidelined when a young woman he has courted tells him she is pregnant. Jude does the proper thing and marries this girl, but soon learns she is not who he thought she was and that she was never really pregnant. Jude attempts to make the marriage work, but in the end his wife decides that marriage is not what she thought it would be.

Jude gets to his beloved university town only to discover that he is too poor to become a student. At the same time Jude falls in love with his cousin, Sue Bridehead. However, Sue has no intention of allowing Jude into her heart because he is her cousin. When she finally does admit to loving Jude, she learns of his first marriage. Out of disappointment and anger, as well as a need to repair her reputation, Sue turns to Mr. Phillotson. Sue is married with Jude's consent. However, Jude is left heartbroken and lost as to what he should do next. In a short time, Sue confesses her love to Jude and leaves her husband to be with him.

Jude and Sue find happiness for a short time, but tragedy pulls them apart. Sue returns to her first husband and Jude seeks comfort in alcohol, an act that leads him into a second marriage to his first wife. Jude soon becomes ill and the end of his life comes quicker than anyone had imagined. Jude dies alone, abandoned by the woman he loves and the woman who twice tricked him into marriage.

Arabella Donn Fawley Cartlett

Arabella is the daughter of a pig farmer who lives on the road between Alfredston and Marygreen in the beginning of the novel. Arabella sees Jude walking to and from his apprenticeship in Alfredston every week and finally stops him by throwing a piece of pig intestine at him. Arabella convinces Jude to begin calling on her. In a short time, Arabella seduces Jude and convinces him she is pregnant, tricking him into marrying him.

Arabella is young and selfish; therefore, marriage to a poor man does not keep her interested for long. Arabella leaves the marriage and goes to Australia with her parents. A falling out with her parents causes Arabella to come back to England, where she makes her living as a barmaid. Jude runs into her and Arabella tells him that she married another man in Australia despite their marriage never having been ended legally. In time, Arabella asks for a divorce, freeing Jude to take another wife. About the same time, Arabella tells Jude that she had his son and that the child is coming to England. Arabella waits until the last minute to tell Jude about this child so that the child shows up at his house the same day he learns of him.

Arabella witnesses Jude and Sue's happiness and begins to wish she had not left Jude. Arabella schemes to get Jude back by encouraging Sue's ex-husband to take her back after she turns to religion in the aftermath of the deaths of her children. Arabella then consoles Jude and gets him drunk, keeping him that way for three days until he finally agrees to marry her. In the end, however, Arabella grows bored with Jude again when he becomes sick and needs her to care for him. Arabella begins seeking out her next husband while Jude is lying on his deathbed.

Sue Bridehead Phillotson

Sue Bridehead is Jude's cousin. When Jude sees a picture of Sue and learns that she lives in Christminster, he decides it is finally time to move to Christminster as he has hoped to do since he was a child. When he sees her for the first time, Jude does not tell Sue who he is, but instead watches her for several weeks without her knowledge. Finally, Sue learns that Jude is in Christminster and she seeks him out. They become friends, but Sue is aware that Jude is in love with her almost from the first time they meet.

Jude arranges to have Sue work as a pupil-teacher with his old schoolmaster, Mr. Phillotson when he learns that she will be leaving Christminster because of a falling out with her employer. This is a mistake because Mr. Phillotson quickly falls in love with Sue, offering her a life of respectability. Sue falls in love with Jude and wants to marry him, but after learning he is already married and finding herself in a scandalous situation, Sue decides to marry Phillotson. It is a mistake, however, and Sue quickly asks Phillotson to let her go so that she might be with Jude. Thinking he is doing the moral thing, Phillotson eventually agrees.

Jude and Sue live happily together for several years, but Sue refuses to marry him. Sue has different views of religion and some of these opinions spill into her belief in marriage. Sue thinks that marriage gives a man undo influence over a woman and a woman undo power over a man when the law becomes involved. This causes Sue to refuse to marry Jude all the time they are together, even though they have three children together. In the end, Sue turns to religion for solace, going against everything she has always believed in, and decides she must return to her true husband, Mr. Phillotson, to atone for her sins.

Mr. Richard Phillotson

Mr. Phillotson is the schoolmaster at Marygreen when the novel begins. Mr. Phillotson tells Jude that the measure of a man is his level of education, prompting Jude to look to education to improve his life and to prove he is worthy. Later, when Jude arrives in Christminster, the same college town where Mr. Phillotson went to continue his education, he looks up his old teacher and discovers he never attended university as he had planned.

Jude arranges for his cousin to work with Mr. Phillotson because it is the only way he can stop her from returning to London. However, this introduction proves to be fatal for Jude because Sue, the love of his life, marries Phillotson to repair her reputation and to retaliate against Jude for not telling her about his first marriage.

After they marry, Phillotson discovers that Sue is in love with Jude and that she is repulsed by the idea of sleeping with him. For this reason, Phillotson allows Sue to leave and move in with Jude. However, this decision ruins Phillotson's career and makes him unable to find work for several years. Finally, when Phillotson learns that Sue has lost her children and turned to the church for solace, he asks her to return to him so that he might repair his career. Sue agrees and soon becomes his wife once more.

Drusilla Fawley

Drusilla Fawley is Jude's elderly aunt. Jude's aunt is a bitter woman who has been hurt by life. Jude's aunt often tells him he would be better off dead, and when she learns that he wants to marry, tells him that Fawleys should never marry because they have bad luck at it. Later, when Jude sees a picture of Sue and expresses a wish to meet her, Jude's aunt begs him to never talk to Sue. Jude's aunt is afraid that Jude will fall in love with Sue and this will lead to disaster for them both. In the end it this prediction proves to be true.

Widow Edlin

Widow Edlin is the elderly lady who lives next door to Drusilla Fawley and cares for her in her final illness. Widow Edlin becomes good friends with Sue and Jude; therefore, when they attempt to marry, she comes to be their witness. Later, Widow Edlin lives with the family while Jude is sick to help care for the two young children. After the death of her children, Widow Edlin is the only one besides Jude who tries to talk sense into Sue, tries to convince her not to marry Mr. Phillotson. Unfortunately, no one listens to her.

Young Jude or Little Father Time

Young Jude, called Little Father Time until his christening, is the child born in from the union of Jude and Arabella. Young Jude is born in Australia and raised there by Arabella's parents until she remarries Mr. Cartlett. Arabella's parents then send the child to England to be with his mother, but she does not want him because she is afraid his presence will put a strain on her new marriage. For this reason, Arabella tells Jude about the child and asks him to take custody of him.

Young Jude lives with Sue and Jude for three or four years. When the family goes to Christminster to make their home and cannot find a place to live because of the children, Young Jude, who has always felt unwanted, decides to murder his young half siblings and himself to remove the burden of them from his parents.

Mr. Cartlett

Mr. Cartlett is Arabella's second husband. Arabella meets Cartlett in Australia and marries him without getting a divorce from Jude. Arabella and Cartlett have a falling out so she returns to England, but he soon follows. Eventually Arabella asks Jude for a divorce so that she might marry Cartlett legally. In the end, Arabella spends several years married to Cartlett as his legal wife and works with him in his public-house, but Cartlett dies and leaves Arabella on the mercy of friends and family who are willing to take her in until she marries Jude again.


Anny is one of Arabella's young friends. Anny is one of the friends who advices Arabella on how to catch a young man, but is shocked when she realizes that Arabella was not really pregnant when she married Jude. Later Anny and Arabella find one another again and move in together for a time after Cartlett's death.

Dr. Vilbert

Dr. Vilbert is a traveling salesman who sells tonics meant to repair a person's health. Dr. Vilbert first comes into the novel when Jude runs into him on the road and asks him for help in learning to read and write Latin and Greek. Dr. Vilbert pledges his help, but quickly forgets. Later, Dr. Vilbert speaks with Anabella and appears to confirm her pregnancy, but this turns out to be false. At the end of the novel, Anabella turns to Dr. Vilbert for help with her sick husband. At the same time, Anabella seduces Dr. Vilbert with an eye to making him her third husband.

This section contains 1,828 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
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