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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis

Jude the Obscure Writing Style

Poetic, Fiery

Don't let the "poetic" part of Hardy's style scare you. This novel is, at times, funny, clever, and very real to life. However, Hardy does enjoy a bit of heightened language. It fits perfectly with the emotional temperaments of Jude and Sue. They are characters who can get on a roll when expressing their love for each other or when debating a lofty subject.

Things get pretty poetic (though not in the literal sense) pretty early on. When Jude starts to feel as though he has no place in the world at a young age, this is how Hardy lays it down:

Jude went out, and, feeling more than ever his existence to be an undemanded one, he lay down on a heap of litter near the pig-sty. (1.2.39)

See, that's both poetic and funny: Jude feels like there's no reason for his existence. So, as he mopes around, he decides to lie down in the trash near the pig-sty—a plan that's sure to help him feel even more miserable.

The fiery side of things really gets going when Sue shows up. This is a character who loves to rip apart subjects and try to get to the core of them. She doesn't tolerate conventional explanations for how things are; she questions them. Questioning, for Sue, often leads to a bit of rage or at least fire in her speech:

'I hate such humbug as could attempt to plaster over with ecclesiastical abstractions such ecstatic, natural, human love as lies in the great and passionate song!' (3.3.79)

This is just a small taste of how Sue can light into a subject that is important to her: she speaks in italics in a book whose narrator avoids that kind of obvious emphasis. It's not that she has a bad temper. It's just that she feels a lot of passion for a lot of things. Her speech comes to dominate the style of the book in those scenes in which she has a major part, because whether she is with Jude or Phillotson, she spends much of the time leading the conversation and the action.

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