The words "class warfare" get thrown around a lot these days. There is a feeling among many Americans that the wealthy run the show and have rigged the game against those who are not wealthy, so those lower class folk will never be able to move up the financial ladder. We're not here to debate whether that's the case or not. However, we are here to talk some Jude the Obscure, and that idea looms large in the novel. Despite everything he does and despite his intellect, it's clear that society will not permit Jude to ever really step beyond the class into which he was born. The morals and the arguably immoral actions of society seem to haunt Jude and Sue at every corner. They cannot really ever be free because of the society in which they live and because of the class they occupy.
Jude is smart enough and dedicated enough to make it in college, but he lacks money. Hardy creates a world (based very much on the real world of his time) in which the wealthy have created a society in which they can keep the lower classes from ever moving up the ranks. How does the world of the novel correlate to our own world?
Jude is a man between worlds. He is of a lower class, but his self-education and his connection to the highly intelligent Sue separates him from the people of his own class. However, he is never accepted by the class to which he aspires to be a part. Living between these two worlds only furthers Jude's sense of isolation throughout the novel.