The following essay forages the theme of love and marriage in the nineteenth and twentieth century English literature with special reference to two of the greatest and most discussed literary pieces- Jude the Obscure, written by Thomas Hardy and A Rome of One’s Own written by Virginia Woolf. Though both of the literary pieces are quite different from each other in terms of dealing with the core subjects, a critical deconstruction leads towards a common platform of analysis. As a matter of fact, the intelligibility of the authors, playwrights and the poets and their acceptance of social practice pertaining to marriage had multi dimensional attitude though bringing the conclusion in to a single plinth of women emancipation. While one talk about the concept of marriage, Jane Austen cannot be negated however, the notion of women emancipation does not have strict hold on social liberalisation and empowerment of women. However, the effort of such would be found in the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Valerie Sanders has found that 19th century European literature took a massive turn in terms of perceiving marriage and expectations from women in so called progressing European society. With conceptual turnaround through the Norwegian Feminist movement, social strata of women succinctly became specific.
This essay would continue to focus on the institutionalization of marriage that has been interpreted as flawed and unmerited. Hardy on a humanistic point of view has incorporated the concepts of feigned pregnancy, marital envy, achievement of social status through marriage. On the other hand the third chapter of A Room of One’s Own deals radically with the acceptance of marriage. A radical discourse can be taken into consideration since it has been dealt by Virginia Woolf.
William Goetz in his paper “The Felicity and Infelicity of Marriage in Jude Obscure” has argued “when Jude Obscure was published in 1895, it was interpreted in many quarters as Hardy’s contribution to the growing contemporary debate” on the question of marriage. The candid treatment of marriage and sex in the novel became sensational with its contemporary conflict of its both. The novel depicts Jude, the protagonist who is viced into marrying Arabella by her contrived pregnancy. In this aspect, the act of pretention of Arabella can be taken into consideration of this critical paper. The novel stages the entire argument on the institution of marriage. As a matter of fact, Hardy does not show negativism towards the theme and concept of marriage. The historical conflict in the conception and perception of marriage in Jude and Sue’s family creates a basic difference in the basic understanding of the entire story.
“You have never loved me as I love you- never- never! Yours is not a passionate heart- your heart does not burn in a flame! You are, upon the whole, a sort of fay, or spirit- not a woman!”- Sue was quite convalescent in delivering such dialogue. Chapter 3 of the novel deals with the separation of Jude and Sue. The chapter deals with a scene where two of the characters are found to sit together without even talking to each other. The stolid obstructiveness between two of the characters have been noticed during the entire course of the chapter. The cross marriage decision taken by the characters has to be taken in to certain consideration. Hardy’s presentation of the tragedy of Little Father’ Time’s murder becomes a natural consequence of failed marriages and unsuccessful gaiety. The negative consideration of marriage takes a sudden leap for the entire understanding of the actual case analysis of the characters.
While studying the entire novel different questions pertaining to Hardy’s association with feminist approach can be taken in to consideration. According to Fang and Jiang, the feminist approach of Thomas Hardy can be judged through the characterisation of Sue Bridehead. Sympathising the circumstances that the Victorian women would undergo, Hardy has argued that the anti- marriage pronouncement of Sue; her refusal to accept the traditionally ascribed role of women in the Victorian society, acceptance of marriage and maternity has been a stoic change in the perception. Sue’s character reminds the reader of Wollstonecraft’s essay “Vindication of the Rights of Women”. Sue in the novel is no polished a lady with Victorian elite. Sue’s consideration of love and marriage as a “new woman” is distinctively modern if not Victorian in approach. The aforesaid critic’s argument can be countered with the help of the following concepts.
On the other hand, chapter three in A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf has elucidated the theme of marriage. With the effective understanding of the entre human race pertaining to the acceptance of marriage in a society that is somehow sombre and persuasive, it can be stated that expected change was somehow delinked. The essay has been a strong piece through which Virginia Woolf has considered that marriage has always been a hindrance to the emancipation and establishment of dignity of the women. As a matter of fact, the impactful marriage criteria have been a positive check with the help of a woman’s own room that would address the establishment of the entire understanding
Dwivedi, V., 2016. Attitude of New Woman in Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. International Journal of Multifaceted and Multilingual Studies, 3(4).
Hardy, T., 2016. Jude the Obscure (Norton Critical Editions). WW Norton & Company.
Li, L., 2013. A Probe Into the Narrative Structure of Jude the Obscure. Studies in Literature and Language, 7(1), p.52.
Woolf, V., 2015. A room of one's own and three guineas. OUP Oxford.