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Themes

Religion plays a major role in Jude's life when he is young. While his first dreams are of going to Christminster to be a classical scholar, he eventually thinks of going there to pursue religious goals. He even decides to become a Bishop someday. Religion continues to dominate Jude's world as he gets older, but in a very different way. The religious morals of the time make his and Sue's relationship a sinful one. In the end, Jude swears off religion (or at least begins to heavily doubt his former beliefs). However, Sue, who has always disparaged religion, turns to the Church after her children are killed.

Questions About Religion

  1. What religion dominates the English setting of the book?
  2. What role does religion play in Jude swearing off drinking?
  3. After he studies the classics, what does Jude decide he should be studying? Why?
  4. What criticisms does Hardy offer of organized religion and the Church throughout the novel?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Sue's turn towards religion at the end of the novel is meant to be a tragedy rather than a positive experience of conversion.

While religion plays a part in Sue and Jude's downfall, Hardy's criticism of the Church is less about faith itself and more about the socially repressive and judgmental consequences of Church hierarchy in British culture.

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