In laugh at the artificial system ofthings,

In laugh at the artificial system ofthings,

In Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy presents the characters Jude Fawley and SueBridehead, who violate the conventions of the repressive Victorian society whileattempting to follow their natural instincts. By studying the novel, one seesthat Hardy’s intentions in doing this are to arouse the reader’s sympathy forthe characters, and to join in their ridicule of the codes of conduct they arebreaking. The trial of Jude and Sue evoke a sympathetic response from the readerbecause the couple reflects the values which are prevalent in modern society.They suffer persecution for yielding to emotions which are no longer consideredunacceptable or forbidden, as they were then. This portrays Victorian society asbeing cruel and unnatural, thus creating affection for the characters.

Hardyunderstood the tendency for society to swing like a pendulum from one extreme tothe other. He knew that the Victorian era would not last indefinitely, and thatfuture generations would become more liberated. This is beautifully illustratedin this reflection of Sue’s: ‘When people of a later age look back upon thebarbarous customs and superstitions of the times that we have the unhappiness tolive in, what will they think? (p.276) According to modern values, it iswrong to condemn people for following their pure and natural instincts, thoughthey have wronged no man, condemned no man, defrauded no man. (p.

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378)Therefore, by predicting these shifts, and exposing the injustice of Victoriansociety, Hardy evokes sympathy in the reader for Sue and Jude. Hardy also usesthe two characters to reveal that he finds the society in which they liveridiculous. He joins Sue and Jude as they laugh at the artificial system ofthings, under which the normal sex-impulses are turned into devilish domesticgins and springes to noose and hold back those who want to progress. (p.279) Inrare times of Greek joyousness (p.

366) Jude and Sue live by Natureslaw and are able to enjoy, unabated, the instincts which civilization hastaken upon itself to thwart. (p.413) It is during these times that the twoare truly able to laugh at the conventions they have violated, as they arecontent and unaffected by the repercussions. Hardy takes these opportunities tolaugh with them, as through their words and actions he reveals his contempt forthe Victorian system. Thomas Hardys novel Jude the Obscure, illustrates theattempts made by Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead to defy the rules and customs ofVictorian society. This evokes a sympathetic reaction from the reader and allowsthe author to prudently scorn the system along with the characters.

This methodof indirectly criticizing Victorian society is appropriate for a time whenfreedom of expression was a punishable crime.

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