Thomas Hardy Writing Styles in Jude the Obscure

This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Jude the Obscure.
This section contains 847 words
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Point of View

The novel is written in the third person point of view. The narration remains with Jude throughout most of the novel, but occasionally moves into the minds of one of the three other main characters. However, the point of view lacks the omniscient characteristic that most modern readers are accustomed to. While the reader is privy to the main character's thoughts and desires, the reader is kept at something of a distance due to the authorial voice that often intrudes on the narration.

The point of view of this novel struggles to recall whose mind it is inside of at certain points of the novel. In fact, some chapters begin in such a way that the reader does not know who the narrator is until several pages into it. This tends to cause a little confusion on the part of the reader. However, the point of view does tend to remain with Jude during most of the plot, telling the story in such a way that the reader sympathizes with him more than any of the other three main characters. At the same time, the author allows the reader peeks into the thoughts and actions of the other characters as well to explain how certain things happen to impact Jude's life. While the point of view is difficult at times for the reader, it tells a powerful story with little distraction from sentimentality.


The novel is set in the fictionalize area of Wessex in England. The author has created his world from an ancient kingdom of Wessex in English history. The author takes many known cities and towns in eastern England and changes their names to create a world that is a thinly veiled copy of the England that existed at the time the novel was written.

The setting of the novel is important more because of when it is set rather than where. The novel is set during the late 1800s in a world where education was still a luxury of the wealthy. This is important to the plot because Jude desperately wants an education, but he is an orphan who must live off of what he makes as a stone-mason. This prevents Jude from getting his education. The time of the novel is also important because it is a time when religion and a sense of morals had an impact on the actions of society. In Jude's world, the idea that a man and woman could live together without the benefit of marriage was never heard of, therefore when Jude and Sue do just that they are ostracized and forced to hide their choice not to be married. For these reasons, the time period of the setting is very important to the overall plot of the novel.

Language and Meaning

The novel is written in formal English. The author is clearly an educated man and his language reflects that in his writing. Not only this, but the novel was written in the late 1800s, a time period when language was still an important aspect of everyday speech and writing, keeping slang a thing of the poorly educated and out of literature. The language of this novel tends to be much more formal than language that modern readers might be accustomed to for this reason.

The language of the novel is not difficult to understand, but some modern readers might have trouble with words and phrases that are unfamiliar because they have fallen out of common usage. The novel also includes many phrases in Latin because Latin was still the language of the church and a language that Jude felt he needed to learn in order to get the university degree he so desperately desired. These phrases are not always explained in the text, but readers familiar with the church will understand their intention. However, understanding these phrases is not important to the overall understanding of the novel.


The novel is divided into six sections, each denoted by the location in which most of the scenes in those sections take place. Within each section, the author has written numerous chapters, each section with its own set of numbered chapters. The novel is written in both exposition and dialogue, but there is much more exposition in the novel as dialogue is often brief and used only when it is important to draw out the minutia of a scene.

The novel contains one main plot and several subplots. The main plot is the story of Jude Fawley and his desire to find acceptance in the world. At first, Jude turns to an education for this acceptance, but when that fails, he turns to love. One subplot of the novel centers around Sue Bridehead and her strange ideas of religion and marriage, ideas that get her into trouble until tragedy causes her to completely abandon her ideas and embrace religion. Another subplot focuses on Arabella Donn, Jude's first wife, and her attempts to have everything she wants, including Jude. All the plots come to a satisfying conclusion at the end of the novel.

This section contains 847 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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