Hardy breaks a ton of barriers, people. While Sue Bridehead might not be the ideal poster child for the feminist movement, with her indecisiveness and her change of heart at the end of the novel, she is definitely way ahead of her time. Her views on marriage and the independence of women resemble our contemporary ideas way more than a lot of the other characters' in Jude the Obscure. Still, while Hardy uses Sue to take aim at a lot of the ignorant, prejudiced ideas about women circulating in his time, he is still not above creating Arabella, the totally two-dimensional, gold-digging, villainous woman antagonist.
While Jude the Obscure strongly criticizes assumptions about gender that were particularly rigid in the Victorian era, we still recognize a lot of the same debates in the novel as ongoing issues today.
Hardy's portrayal of the elitism of Christminster's university culture continues to ring true today, as higher education becomes more and more expensive and difficult to access for working class kids.