Follow by Email


A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A horrifying scene in Jude the Obscure and what it signifies

I'm guessing that Jude the Obscure has never been made into a movie or that if it has it's never been made into a good movie, and there's a reason. Hardy's early novel Far From the Madding Crowd has been adapted, even recently, but Jude, his last novel, is far too dark and even gruesome to translate well onto the screen - particularly the horrifying incidents in the 6th and final section. What astonishes us on the page would repulse us on screen - and would strain credulity as well. It had been decades since I last read Jude, and I'm surprised I didn't remember this late scene, although it came back to me as I was re-reading it: Jude's you and preternaturally aged son, alarmed at the family poverty and how it's difficult to find housing for such a large group, kills his two half-siblings and hangs himself - all while his parents are out at breakfast. He leaves a note saying something like: Dead because were too menny [sic]. As if Jude could not be crushed any more or sink any lower, this sensational killing sends Sue into a terrible depression, or course, and also into a religious, fanatic mania: just at a time when Jude thinks they need to be together for support, she needs to separate from him. She, who ha campaigned against marriage (we now learn what we had suspected, that they had never gotten legally married) now feels guilt and remorse about his and her first marriages - she believes she is still Phillotson's wife (she now calls him Richard, for the first time). Is she really suddenly so devout? Or his this her asexuality and rejection of men that is coming once again to the fore? Her rejection of Jude and her embrace of religion, a complete turnabout for her, is a defense to protect herself from her own guilt - for blaming the children, for leaving them unattended, perhaps for wishing them gone. Jude is befuddled to say the least - oddly, he seems to not miss the children terribly, or maybe Hardy doesn't miss them (unlike earlier Victorians such as Dickens, he does not write often or well about children) - but with Sue now separating from him he is a desperate and despondent man. It's no wonder Hardy stopped writing novels after Jude - there was nowhere to go but further down.

No comments:

Post a Comment