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Despite his perseverance and his herculean efforts to go beyond his origins and his class, Jude childhood‟s optimism and dream of an academic life in Chrisminster is turned on it head by the tyrannical and apocalyptical pessimism of social reality. No matter how hard he tries to reach his noble goals; however, he receives a bunch of thorns rather than that of flowers as reward of his honesty and his long-suffering. The outcome is so, because Jude finds himself in society where “the wicked [like Arabella] prosper and the good [like him] are cursed” (Whitfield 20). The tragic end of Jude‟s life reveals how pessimistic is Hardry‟s attitude toward life. For him, man cannot materialise most of his desires, because he is condemned at birth to lead a life with worthless suffering. The reality of life ridicules man‟s hopes, dreams and what his reason expects. Fate, illness, age, death and all other natural events that cause great and sudden damage or distress makes of man a mere prey. Moreover, if man seeks for his fellow humans as a refuge from pain, he finds little solace. Love relationship is always sad due to disappointment, mismatching and faithlessness. In addition to nature‟s cruelty, society is also not well adapted to our natures. Society‟s laws, customs and conventions make our life harder than we wish it to be (Paris 3) by disturbing our desires.
The failure of Jude can be can be attributed to “inadequate social mechanisms” (Langland 229), which do not value a man according to his work, but according to his origins and his class. It is through this novel that Hardy ardently satirises the Victorian society, which hinders the noble aspirations of the poor to go beyond his class under the assumption that „the poor is poor‟. In Jude the Obscure, Hardy bitterly criticises a social system based on snobbery and nepotism, which reduces the noble aims of academic knowledge to a bread making degrees. Sue conveys the same idea when she addresses Jude whose attempt to enter the
university is rejected:
You prove it in your own person. You are one of the very men Chrisminster was intended for when the colleges were founded; a man with a passion for learning, but no money, or opportunities, or friends. But you were elbowed off the pavement by the millionaires‟ sons.
Here Sue victimises Jude and blames the colleges‟ system for showing a contradiction between what they aimed at when they were founded and how they work now. Sue attributes the failure of Jude to the inadequacy of social system. Despite his noble struggle to acquire knowledge, Jude gets no reward for this. Like Sue, Jude believes that he fails not because of the lack of personal efforts, but because “there is something wrong somewhere in [their] social formulas” (394). Here both Jude and Sue regard society as a bullying force and ungratefully prevents individuals from reaching their noble aspirations. Later on, Jude finds that “everything is against [him]..., [and] nothing encourages him in his struggle to carry on his noble aspirations” (Garwood 68). Sue leaves him in the middle of the battle, the Darwinian Arabella comes again to disturb his romanticism and the College, which refuses him instead of mourning the loss of a great self-educated man like Jude, is now „en fête’ while he is lying on his deathbed.
Despite the common definition of what a success is, Jude realises that what the has done is heroic and worthy of attention and if the fails it is because of things beyond his own
I don‟t admit that my failure proved my view to be wrong one, or that my success would have made it a right one; thought that‟s how we appraise such attempts nowadays-I mean, not by their essential soundness, but by their accidental outcomes. If I had ended by becoming like one of this gentlemen in red and black that we saw in dropping in here by now, everybody would have said: “See how wise that young man was, to follow the bent of his nature!” but having ended no better than I began they say: “see what a fool that fellow was in following a freak of his fancy!”.... It takes two or three generations to do what I tried
Here Hardy criticises society‟s views that the success is the result of our deeds and that it reflects man‟s aspirations hard work and vice versa. Society does not understand the course a man has taken to reach his noble aims and believes only in what is tangible in the result of his realisation. Hardy is one of the believers that the greatness of a man is not only the reflection of his deeds, but it is also the hidden aims behind these deeds or realisations. In this respect, he says, “The inevitable history of a man does not lie in what he did but in what he wanted to do.”
3. Little Father Time and Pessimism The emergence of the precocious Little Father Time changes the course of the novel and deepens Sue and Jude belief in the futility of their struggle. Little Father Time perception
of existence is concerned only with its generalities rather than on its particularities:
It could have been seen that boy‟s ideas of life were different from those of the local boys.
Children begin with the detail, and learn up the general; they begin with the contiguous, and gradually comprehend the universal. They seemed to have begun with the generals of life, and never to have concerned himself with the particulars. To him the houses, the willows, the obscure fields beyond, were apparently regarded not as a brick residence, pollards, and meadows; but as human dwellings in the abstract, vegetation and the wide dark world.
Father Time seems to scorn life and because he does not disturb himself going into details while contemplating things around him, life for him is uninspiring and meaningless.This epitomises the darkening tendency of Little Father Time that the world in general is gloomy. Unlike Jude‟s romantic childhood, Father Time‟s childhood allows him to come directly into contact with the “stark reality of existing in this world” (Matz 527). Although he is not yet biologically mature to have a clear judgement of life, Father Time seems to consider it as a nauseating experience.
For father time life is full of anomalies and that individuals are put into conditions in which in “strife is unavailing” (Whitfield18).
He tells Sue on the evening before his suicide:
“„I would be better to be out o‟ the world than in it, wouldn‟t it?‟” “„Then if children make so much trouble, why do people have‟em?‟”
“„If we children was gone there‟d be no trouble at all!‟”(399) Father Time grows impatient in waiting death to come to relieve his parents from the burden of children. Father Time awareness of the conditions of life leads him to treat people as if they are no more significant than the conditions in which they live. He sees his existence and that of his brothers as unnecessary, he says “done because we are to menny” (401), Unlike Jude, Father Time has no time for romanticism he sees the universe as indifferent and inhumane. “Father Time‟s perception corrupt his appreciation of even those few joys which sensitive minds can experience” (Benvenuto 192). His decision “it would be better to be out of the world then in it”( Hardy 398) expresses Father Time desire to die before experiencing the miseries of existence, because he can see no meaning of life in an ideal way. Father Time denies any possibility or value in the act of living and he does so with a „horrifying regularity‟. The presence of Father Time in the novel embodies the pessimistic philosophy of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who believes that existence has no other cures than having recourse to suicide if its terrors grow more than a human mind can bear. In this respect he says: “it will generally be found that, as soon as the terrors of life reach the point at which they outweighs the terrors of death, a man will put an end to his life”(26). This is the reason why Father Time hangs his siblings and himself in order not to suffer a lot in the vomiting experiences of life.
Conclusion Throughout the component parts off this chapter, I have given the reader chance to a deep insight into the causes of the conflict between the ideal and the social. In so doing, I stressed the inevitability of the conflict between the two contrasting sides and how tragic is end of the conflict too. After that, I have shown the forces that operate in order to make the conflict sharp and enduring. Finally, I have come to the result that society always triumphs on individuals by targeting the weakness that lie behind their character and that those who keep on struggling stubbornly against the social forces always ends up in miserable conditions.
General Conclusion I have done my best in this work to give the reader the necessary means in order to help him understand the topic of my discussion and the purpose behind it. First, I provided the reader with the most important aspects of the Victorian society and values, which have a close relationship with the topic of my study. The growth of the feminist movement in the later years of Queen Victoria‟s reign and women‟s desire to expand the horizon of their demands is one of the attitudes that make the behaviour of Sue. Some feminists and Sue want to go beyond their gender in order to surpass prejudices and limits imposed by society to them. The spread of Darwinism in the second half of the Victorian age is one of the chief reasons behind undermining the romantic Jude and leading him to live inharmoniously with the rest of society.
Moreover, the strife of the working class and the poor to better their conditions and acquire education in the Victorian society in order to surpass class prejudice reflects Jude willingness to enter the University of Christminster hoping for a future intellectual life. The emergence of new attitudes and outlooks of life like that of the premature Little Father Time foreshadows the unrest and the ache of modern life after the sunset of the Victorian Age and the sunrise of the Edwardian Age.
We have come to realise throughout this study that the conflict between the two antagonistic creeds idealism and society, is sharp and merciless. The strife of individuals to realise their ideals and aspirations in a society, which does not permit individualistic attitude, makes their life hard and tragic. Jude early dreams of becoming a scholar in Christminster widens the gap between him and the rest of children of his village and isolated him from the rest of his class while winning him no place in the class to which he strives to reach. In addition, Jude‟s romantic perception of things around him anticipated the separation from society and made him an easy victim of the Darwinian society to which he belongs.
Furthermore, Sue‟s ideals of freedom and emancipation from the conventionality of the Victorian marriage makes her suffer a lot because her attitudes incline more toward modernity than to the legend of respectability that most Victorian women hand down to their fellows. No matter how she tries several times to make her own way in society, however Sue finds herself dancing to the blinds and singing to the deaf ears. As result of her weakness and her lacking support from society, Sue chooses to assume here role as an Angel in the House by pledging allegiance to the Victorian norms. As for Little father Time, not at all concerned with the idealism of his father and his stepmother, regards life as a waste of time and that if striving turns to be futile, so it is best not to live at all than endure.
In Sum, Thomas Hardy is depiction of the struggle between idealism and society in Jude the Obscure makes of his portrayal life one of the most shocking experiences to his readers, which in turn led to his resignation as a novelist.
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