Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet who was considered to be a Victorian realist. Most of his works examine the social constraints of Victorian England and he criticizes those beliefs, especially those concerning marriage, religion and education. Some of his works include Desperate Remedies (1871), Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), Wessex Tales (1888) and Jude the Obscure (1895).
Jude the Obscure was the last completed novel written by Thomas Hardy which began as a magazine serial story in Harper’s Magazine in December 1894 and was first published in book form in 1895. The book received a hostile response, being criticized on moral grounds. Through this novel, Thomas Hardy aimed to express the conflicts between man and society as well as his ideas about marriage through the employment of the characters Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead, a thinly disguised autobiography of his personal relationship with his then estranged wife, Emma.
The several themes of the novel include love, society, marriage and intellectual aspiration. A very prominent theme include that of tragedy which is rampantly observed throughout the novel. It is a tragedy of Jude’s unfulfilled ambitions, a tragedy of love between Jude and Sue, a tragedy caused by fate and society. Sue regards her love for her cousin Jude a sin, and when their two children and little Father Time commit suicide by hanging, she looks at it as punishment for their crime of love.