Jude the Obscure | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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Jude the Obscure | Quotes


He was the sort of man who was born to ache a good deal before the fall of the curtain upon his unnecessary life.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 2

The sardonic tone, set from the beginning of the novel and evident throughout, highlights Jude's unfortunate life: he will remain obscure, and his life will pass for the most part unnoticed. From childhood he has a heightened sensitivity to the pain of others and cannot bear to hurt anything or see it suffering. At 11 years old he allows the crows to eat the corn in the farmer's field, even though it is his job to scare them away.


The unvoiced call of woman to man ... held Jude to the spot against his intention—almost against his will.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 6

Jude, despite himself, is suddenly awakened for the first time to his sexual nature by Arabella's attention. Before meeting her, he thought of sex as something outside of his life and purpose, but now he sees Arabella and says, "What a nice-looking girl you are!"


I must have him. I can't do without him. He's the sort of man I long for.

Arabella Donn, Part 1, Chapter 7

Arabella is strongly sexually attracted to Jude, perhaps because of his refinement, which is so unlike her own coarseness. She tells her friends she felt a desire for him as soon as she saw him and she means to marry him. She also sees in him someone pliable as well as refined and capable of earning a good living.


He knew ... too well, in the secret center of his brain, that Arabella was not worth a great deal as a specimen of womankind.

Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 9

Jude has this thought after Arabella lies by telling him she is pregnant and that he must do the honorable thing and marry her. He realizes all his dreams are now gone, but he accepts his fate. Still, he realizes Arabella may not be worth marrying, but, as is the custom of his society among decent men, he will take responsibility for the woman and the child because he has "drifted so far into intimacy" with her.


Jude found himself speaking out loud, holding conversations with them as it were, like an actor in a melodrama.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 1

The narrator describes Jude's impressions when he first enters the streets of Christminster and begins to see, in his mind's eye, people of the past who were affiliated with the esteemed university, particularly those with religious connections. His imagination is so vivid he begins talking to these departed people.


It is not altogether an erotolepsy ... it is partly a wish for sympathy, and a craving for loving-kindness in my solitude.

Jude Fawley, Part 2, Chapter 4

Jude is already obsessed with his cousin Sue, whom he first saw in a photograph. Now in Christminster, where she lives, he has been spying on her but has not actually approached her. He thinks about her all the time and justifies this action to himself (since he is a married man) by saying he simply craves sympathetic company because he is feeling lonely. The term erotolepsy was coined by Hardy to mean "violent sensual desire."


It is a unique center of thought and religion—the intellectual and spiritual granary of the country.

Jude Fawley, Part 2, Chapter 6

Jude has come home to visit his great-aunt, Miss Drusilla Fawley, and runs into some of his acquaintances in Marygreen. One asks him if his "City of Light" is all he expected. This conversation happens before the university rejects him. He answers it is everything he expected and more; for him it is the intellectual center of the universe and the source of all intellectual and spiritual "food." His opinion will change, however, when he is excluded.


There is this advantage in being poor obscure people like us—that these things are done for us in a rough and ready fashion.

Jude Fawley, Part 5, Chapter 1

Jude makes this statement to Sue after she tells him her divorce from Phillotson has been finalized. He notes such matters are more easily settled among the poor and unknown since no money or titles are at stake, as would be the case with "patented nobilities."


I think I should ... be afraid of you ... the moment you had contracted to cherish me under Government stamp, and I was licensed to be loved on the premises.

Sue Bridehead, Part 5, Chapter 1

Jude has raised the possibility of marriage now that both he and Sue are legally divorced, but she fears the taint of the legal bond, which may ruin their love and happy life once they are legally chained to one another, and, in her view, she has been objectified as being "licensed to love."


Excessive regard of parents for their own children ... is like class-feeling, patriotism, save-your-own-soul-ism, and other virtues, a mean exclusiveness at bottom.

Jude Fawley, Part 5, Chapter 3

Jude makes this statement to Sue after Arabella first asks him to take his son off her hands. He has not yet met Father Time and doesn't know if he is truly his son. Still Jude says it doesn't matter because all children collectively belong to all adults and should be cared for and loved by them; to do less smacks of a barbarian exclusivity. Sue is delighted by this response.


There's nothing like bondage and a stone-deaf taskmaster for taming us women.

Arabella Donn, Part 5, Chapter 8

Arabella says this to Phillotson right after she informs him he gave Sue a divorce under false pretenses because Sue had not actually slept with Jude until after the divorce. Arabella further opines he should have kept her "chained on" and broken her spirit instead of allowing her to leave. Arabella has never stopped wanting Jude, which is why she would have preferred Phillotson to have held onto his wife.


Why should you care so much for Christminster? ... Christminster cares nothing for you, poor dear!

Sue Bridehead, Part 5, Chapter 8

After Sue meets Arabella while selling Jude's Christminster cakes, he is all the more anxious to leave the vicinity as soon as he feels well. He desires to return to the city he loves, a sentiment Sue doesn't understand, since its institutions have rejected him. Yet Christminster represents all he loves and still admires in the world, outside of Sue.


There is something external to us which says, "You shan't!" First it said, "You shan't learn!" Then it said, "You shan't labor!" Now it says, "You shan't love!"

Sue Bridehead, Part 6, Chapter 2

Sue cries this to Jude in church, during the funeral ceremony for her children. She feels as if some external force—which she later identifies as a vengeful God—is thwarting all of her and Jude's efforts to be happy in life.


We are acting by the letter; and "the letter killeth!"

Jude Fawley, Part 6, Chapter 8

Jude says these words to Sue when he returns to Marygreen in the driving rain to visit her after she has returned to Phillotson. He means the letter of the Christian law, not its spirit (mercy and compassion), makes her turn from him; the letter of the law is harsh and punishing.


Sue, Sue, you are not worth a man's love!

Jude Fawley, Part 6, Chapter 8

Jude says this to Sue after he comes back to Marygreen one last time and attempts to convince her to leave her sham marriage and reunite herself with him in her real marriage. She refuses, continuing to defend her remarriage to Phillotson and commending Jude for remarrying Arabella.

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