Intolerance and Preference for Difference Term Paper

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His marriage with Arabella made him realize that living life the ideal or Christian way can lead to disastrous results, like the suffering he experienced for marrying a woman he does not love. While pig-killing with his wife Arabella, he realized that he was now a different person to what he aspired to be when he was young. He perceived his life as revolving around poverty, hard work, and sinfulness; religion and education was a forgotten fact of his life, aspirations that he was surprised to remember once fueled his desire to live:

Jude felt dissatisfied with himself as a man at what he had done, though aware of his lack of common sense, and that the deed would have amounted to the same thing if carried out by deputy. The white snow, stained with the blood of his fellow-mortal, wore an illogical look to him as a lover of justice, not to say a Christian; but he could not see how the matter was to be mended. No doubt he was, as his wife had called him, a tenderhearted fool.

The phrase "he could not see how the matter was to be mended" speaks truthfully of the plight of Jude's life. As a poor man, he was compelled to live life according to the elitists' rules; thus, his life was controlled by other people, rendering him and his family 'dummies' incapable of making their own decisions and exercising their free will as humans. In killing the pig with Arabella, he saw himself as no different to it, which lent truth to his earlier reflection, wherein "[t]he mercy towards one set of creatures was cruelty towards another sickened sense of harmony." The world he lived in was a "dog-eat-dog" world: one needed to be tough in order to survive.
Subsisting to this belief, Jude dared to become a deviant than make himself vulnerable to the hostile treatment of his rigidly conservative and still-traditional community.

The eventual suicide and death of Jude's children served as society's reality check on him. His stubbornness to live up to his sinful ways led to unpleasant repercussions not only on his and Sue's life, but most importantly, to the wasted lives of their children (Faubert, 2002). Death served as the catalyst for Sue and Jude to separate and seek the comfort and peace that status quo gives them. In the end, society prevailed, paving the way for the privileged and the elite to move on towards modernism, while imprisoning poor individuals like Jude in the chains of conservatism and rigid norms and rules of traditional society.

In conclusion, intolerance and acceptance of difference in Jude's society is actually a double-standard: diversity is only welcomed when its proponents are powerful and privileged individuals in the society. An individual who is socio-economically incapable to create change in the society is hampered to move on towards modernism, and learn to exercise free thinking and use his/her free will. Just like his children, Jude's death was the only form of escape that he had, having no choice nor say about his plight and future in the society that had cruelly hindered him from achieving his dreams and tolerated him to commit regrettable acts and behavior of sinfulness.


Cox, R.G. (2003). Thomas Hardy: the Critical Heritage. London: Taylor & Francis.

Crangle, S. (2001). "Hardy's Jude the Obscure." Explicator, Vol. 60, Issue 1.

Faubert, M. (2002). "Hardy's Jude the Obscure." Explicator, Vol. 60, Issue 2.

Harvey, G. (2003). The Complete Critical Guide to Thomas Hardy. London: Taylor & Francis.

Turner, P. (1998). The life of.....

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