Academic journal article Interactions

Sue Made Flesh: Sue Bridehead's Corporeality in Michael Winterbottom's Jude / Sue Vucut Buldu: Michael Winterbottom'in Jude Adli Eserinde Sue Bridehead'in Bedensel Varligi

Academic journal article Interactions

Sue Made Flesh: Sue Bridehead's Corporeality in Michael Winterbottom's Jude / Sue Vucut Buldu: Michael Winterbottom'in Jude Adli Eserinde Sue Bridehead'in Bedensel Varligi

Article excerpt

Abstract: The character of Sue Bridehead, in Hardy's Jude the Obscure, is never really physically described to the reader; moreover, Hardy represents Sue as childlike, and completely lacking any sexual desire, despite the fact that she has several children. Her character thus conforms to the Victorian ideal of chaste and silent womanhood. It is this ideal that Michal Winterbottom criticizes in his movie Jude. By emphasizing, rather than deemphasizing, Sue's body in the movie, Winterbottom refuses to mimic Hardy's depiction of a character whose power comes not from her presence but from her absence. Winterbottom's Sue is literalized to the audience over and over again; his Sue gains a corporeal presence that Sue never achieves in the novel. Consequently, Winterbottom's Sue appears as a real woman rather than an idealized concept of womanhood he obviously feels is best left behind.

Keywords: Purity, invisibility, lack, corporeality, body, excess


Hardy'nin Jude the Obscure adli eserinde Sue Bridehead adli karakter asla fiziksel olarak tasvir edilmez; dahasi, Hardy, Sue karakterini cocuklari olan bir kadin olmasina ragmen hicbir cinsel arzu barindirmayan cocuksu biri olarak sunar okura. Sue karakteri boylelikle Viktorya Doneminin ideal namuslu ve sozsuz kadin tipine uymaktadir. Michael Winterbottom'in Jude adli filminde elestirdigi nokta da budur. Filmde Winterbottom, Hardy'nin kasitli olarak vurgulamadigi Sue karakterinin bedensel varligina dikkat ceker ve gucu varligindan degil yoklugundan gelen bir karakter portresi cizen Hardy'nin bu yaklasimini taklit etmeyi reddeder. Winterbottom'in Sue karakteri, izleyiciye tekrar tekrar sunularak romanda asla elde edemedigi bedensel varliga kavusur. Sonuc olarak, Winterbottom'in Sue karakteri yonetmenin tamamen geride birakilmasi gerektigini dusundugu idealize edilmis kadin kavramindan siyrilarak gercek bir kadin olur.

Anahtar Sozcukler: Viktorya donemi idealleri, saflik, gorunmezlik, bedensel varlik, insaniyet, beden


Peter Widdowson, writing on Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, remarks that "the casting of Kate Winslet as Sue seems to me to be the film's biggest mistake--or, alternatively, its most devious strategy in reprocessing the novel" (193). Widdowson's restrained outrage raises an interesting question, and one that deserves an answer: how can Kate Winslet, a beautiful fresh-faced and charismatic actress, possibly portray Hardy's neurotic sexually squeamish Sue Bridehead?

Interestingly, within Jude the Obscure, Sue's body remains largely abstracted. Wanting his readers to focus on her intellect, Hardy deliberately de-emphasized Sue's physical body, but how is a visual form of art (such cinema) supposed to represent a woman whose physical presence remains largely absent from the novel? To physically literalize Sue (as Winterbottom must obviously do) marks a huge departure from Hardy's novel, and yet literalized she must be, as it is a physical impossibility to cast a drifting mist or a beam of sunshine as one's heroine. Recognizing the impossibility of depicting Sue as Hardy saw her, Winterbottom deliberately, and dramatically, deviated from Hardy's portrayal and intentionally emphasized Sue's physicality. By highlighting Sue's physicality Winterbottom not only criticizes Hardy's portrayal of Sue Bridehead, but also the Victorian culture that refused to acknowledge the physicality, the messiness, and the humanity of the female of the species.

Hardy's Sue Bridehead

The character of Sue Bridehead, unlike Hardy's Tess Durbeyfield or even Bathsheba Everdene, is physically de-eroticized. While in Tess of the d'Urbervilles there are descriptions of Tess that send the most prosaic reader into a swoon, Hardy's representation of Sue is of an intellectual, yet child-like, woman. Sue's de-eroticization is the result, as Judith Mitchell points out, of Hardy's inability to "imagine a loveable woman" who also sexually desires (202). …

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