June 11, 2008

Book Review: Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy

Posted in Book Reviews at 10:23 pm by faith786

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum,

I got the idea to do a book review from http://www.thelittlebirdreview.wordpress.com, but I think I will stick to the classics or Islamic books. Better start with some book, than no book I suppose. I would like to put a disclaimer now that this is my personal opinion and doesn’t reflect whether or not I like or dislike the novel. Thank you.

Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy

The book covers many themes, the three most prominent ones are: the issues of the institution of marriage [in Britain], morals and ethics [particularly Christian], and the idealism vs. realism [particularly with following one’s dreams]. Other themes: Justice vs. mercy, choices and consequences, punishment vs. redemption (Christian outlook), class and opportunities, city life vs. village life, consistency in thought and actions, etc.

The book has a lot of irony, a bit of an unexpected ending and characters that are purposefully shallow and annoying. But I personally think that the most prominent conflict is man vs. God, even though many people might think it is man vs. self and man vs. society. With all the biblical references in the book, it can suggest that they parallel or foretell Jude’s relationship with God. In certain points of the book, he even tells himself to stay moral, so there is direct reference to a conflict between him and God.

Somethings I think that this book has that not many other books have is the issue of scholarship as a dream and the issues or fallibility of marriage (according to Hardy).

It is not meant to be read for the light hearted and there are a lot of unIslamic moments, but there are some Islamic issues, Muslims can take home, particularly Jude’s relationship and respect for his aunt and his compassion for animals. One quote I think that Muslims REALLY need to think about is this:

“Do not do an immoral thing for moral reasons!”

Style of Writing: Relatively easy to understand; easier than Jane Austen, but more difficult than George Orwell. Sometimes gets descriptive

Themes: Already mentioned most of them, well developed, but never really resolved or Hardy didn’t present a great solution to them all.

Character development: In terms of relationships-constantly changing. In terms of personal growth-nearly nonexistent and no signs of self develipment in Jude, Sue, Schoolmaster guy, or Arabella.

Symbols: Christminster, Jude’s books, and animals. Not many symbols, but pay attention to scenery/places.

Plot: Interesting story; different than the normal adultery and kill yourself routine in many works of literature. But lack of character development harm it a lot.

Islamic rating: 4/10 (For adultery, drinking, suicide and murder) (At least the adultery isn’t as explicit as in other novels)

Book rating: 7/10 (For thematic issues, style of writing, better plot than most novels, but character development was terrible.)



  1. shoupshop said,

    Thanks for the post

  2. faith786 said,

    You are very welcome!

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