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Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure

In Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy presents the characters Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead, who violate the conventions of the repressive Victorian society while attempting to follow their natural instincts. By studying the novel, one sees that Hardy’s intentions in doing this are to arouse the reader’s sympathy for the characters, and to join in their ridicule of the codes of conduct they are breaking.

The trial of Jude and Sue evoke a sympathetic response from the reader because the couple reflects the values which are prevalent in modern society. They suffer persecution for yielding to emotions which are no longer considered unacceptable or forbidden, as they were then. This portrays Victorian society as being cruel and unnatural, thus creating affection for the characters. Hardy understood the tendency for society to swing like a pendulum from one extreme to the other. He knew that the Victorian era would not last indefinately, and that future generations would become more liberated. This is beautifully illustrated in this reflection of Sue’s: ‘When people of a later age look back upon the barbarous customs and superstitions of the times that we have the unhappiness to live in, what will they think?’ (p.276) According to modern values, it is wrong to condemn people for following their pure and natural instincts, though they ‘have wronged no man, condemned no man, defrauded no man.’ (p.378) Therefore, by predicting these shifts, and exposing the injustice of Victorian society, Hardy evokes sympathy in the reader for Sue and Jude.

Hardy also uses the two characters to reveal that he finds the society in which they live ridiculous. He joins Sue and Jude as they laugh at ‘the artificial system of things, under which the normal sex-impulses are turned into devilish domestic gins and springes to noose and hold back those who want to progress. (p.279) In rare times of ‘Greek joyousness’ (p.366) Jude and Sue live by ‘Nature’s law’ and are able to enjoy, unabated, the ‘instincts which civilisation has taken upon itself to thwart.’ (p.413) It is during these times that the two are truly able to laugh at the conventions they have violated, as they are content and unaffected by the repercussions.

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle – Socialism

The Jungle Socialism

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s hundreds of thousands of European immigrants migrated to the United States of America. They had aspirations of success, prosperity and their own conception of the American Dream. The majority of the immigrants believed that their lives would completely change for the better and the new world would bring nothing but happiness. Advertisements that appeared in Europe offered a bright future and economic stability to these naive and hopeful people. Jobs with excellent wages and working conditions, prime safety, and other benefits seemed like a chance in a lifetime to these struggling foreigners. Little did these people know that what they would confront would be the complete antithesis of what they dreamed of.

The enormous rush of European immigrants encountered a lack of jobs. Those who were lucky enough to find employment wound up in factories, steel mills, or in the meat packing industry. Jurgis Rudkus was one of these disappointed immigrants. A sweeper in slaughter house, he experienced the horrendous conditions which laborers encountered. Along with these nightmarish working conditions, they worked for nominal wages, inflexible and long hours, in an atmosphere where worker safety had no persuasion. Early on, there was no one for these immigrants to turn to, so many suffered immensely. Jurgis would later learn of worker unions and other groups to support the labor force, but the early years of his Americanized life were filled, with sliced fingers, unemployment and overall a depressing and painful “new start.”

Sinclair, has shown in a dramatic style the hardships and obstacles which Jurgis and fellow workers had to endure. He made the workers sound so helpless and the conditions so gruesome, that the reader almost wants a way out for Jurgis. Sinclair’s The Jungle is a “subliminal” form of propaganda for

Socialism. At a time in our nations history where the rich were very wealthy, and the poor were penniless, Sinclair’s portrayal of socialism in regards to the laborer is very appealing to a jobless, hungry, indigent man.

Sinclair’s vision of socialism, wasn’t as flawless and beneficial as it seemed.

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