Characterization in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure: The Function of Arabella



D. H. Lawrence insists in ‘The Novel and the Feelings’ that the conscious understanding of the dark and deep, unconscious passions is the only salvation for the human race and that great novels can bring us to this understanding. I agree with Lawrence’s view, and I also agree with his assertion in that essay that characterization is the most important aspect in a novel.1 On the initial and most obvious level, characterization tells us what kind of novel we are reading.


Revealing Character Creative Imagination Conscious Knowledge Sexual Ideology Sexual Instinct 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Edward D. McDonald (London: William Heinemann, 1936) pp. 759–60.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Florence Emily Hardy, The Life of Thomas Hardy: 1840–1928 (London: Macmillan, 1962) pp. 176–7.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Wayne Burns, ‘Flesh and Spirit in Jude the Obscure’, Recovering Literature, vol. 1, no. 3 (1972) 5–21Google Scholar
  4. and Rosemarie Morgan, Women and Sexuality in the Novels of Thomas Hardy (London: Routledge, 1988) both give extended treatment to Arabella and arrive at very different conclusions about her function in the novel.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (London: Macmillan, 1974) Pt I, Ch. 5.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Mary Jacobus, ‘Sue the Obscure’, Essays in Criticism, xxv (1975) 304–28, simply asserts that it is a ‘fake pregnancy’ (p. 308).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Penny Boumelha, Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form (Brighton: Harvester, 1982) offers two possibilities: either Vilbert advises her to ‘pretend to be pregnant’ or he gives her some ‘female pills’, which she writes, without providing a source, was ‘a widely-understood euphemism for abortifacients’ (p. 152).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Wayne Burns, The Panzaic Principle (Vancouver, 1965)Google Scholar
  9. reprinted in Recovering Literature (Spring, 1976)Google Scholar
  10. reprinted in William K. Buckley, Sense Tender: Recovering the Novel for the Reader (New York: Peter Lang, 1989)Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Alex Comfort, ‘The Rape of Andromeda’, in Darwin and the Naked Lady: Discursive Essays on Biology and Art (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961) pp. 74–99.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John R. Doheny 1998

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations