Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

A Probe into the Narrative Structure of Jude the Obscure

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

A Probe into the Narrative Structure of Jude the Obscure

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper attempts to explore the narrative structure Hardy employed in Jude the Obscure. Based on close reading and textual analysis of Jude the Obscure, the essay argues ö that the text takes J on the form of circular structure J and contrastive symmetry. With such pluralistic forms, a perfect harmony is thus achieved between the content, especially in the tragic themes, and form so as to enhance the tragic effect and irony of the text. It is concluded that both in time span and narrative structure Hardy transcends the 19 th century Victorian norms, thus Hardy may be also acknowledged as a modernist writer.

Key words: Jude the Obscure; Narrative structure; Circular structure; Symmetry; Contrast

This essay spotlights the narrative structure of Jude the Obscure. First, the text takes on the form of circular structure in terms of space transition and plot development model. Second, symmetry is employed by Hardy to expose marital relations between the major characters as well as the process of transformation in the religious beliefs of the protagonists. Finally, contrast or conflict is embodied in the same person, between the characters or reflected in the themes of the novel. It is concluded that both in time span and narrative structure Hardy transcends the 19th century Victorian norms. In this sense Hardy may be also acknowledged as a modernist writer for his proficiency in the manipulation of circular structure, symmetry and contrast. With such pluralistic forms, a perfect harmony is thus achieved between the content, especially in the tragic themes, and form so as to enhance the tragic effect and irony of the text.

Jude the Obscure (JO) is the last novel of Thomas Hardy. Since its publication, it has provoked most heated repercussions and criticism from literary critics across the entire world. It is considered by many as the best novel Hardy ever wrote, being called his swan song . However, over the century critics still tend to focus on the content and ,+u themes of the story. + Few have u touched . the artistic form of the novel. This tendency, which emphasizes the content while neglecting the form of Hardy's novels, is more likely to mislead the readers and researchers as well while reading a novel they are vigorously tempted by its fascinating plot, characters or themes, etc as exposed to in the concentrate content of on the the novel. narrative Hence, structure this essay of the is novel designed by applying recent theories in narratology.

Narrative structure is probably an essential element concerning the form of JO. In a large sense, Hardy's training in architecture and music exerts an immensely significant influence on his literary form. As Merry Williams points out, "It was his architectural training that enabled him to say that Casterbridge met the countryside in a mathematical line and that Jude the Obscure was 'almost geometrically constructed' (Williams, 2005, p.21)". He always values his architectural background and draws upon it when composing his own novels. In the novel Hardy mixes together such geometrical structure or elements as circular or ring structure, symmetry and contrast with an attempt to achieve perfect integrity between architecture and literature. For Hardy, the true architect was like an artist, a 'creator of forms'. Art must remain close to the rhythms of life, and he went on feeling this after he had given up architecture for literature:

That the author loved the art of concealing art was undiscerned. For instance, as to rhythm, years earlier he had decided that Studies in Literature and Language, 7(1), 52-59 too regular a beat was bad art. He had fortified himself in his opinion by thinking of the analogy of architecture, between which art and that of poetry he had discovered, to use his own words, that there existed a close and curious parallel, both arts, unlike some others, knew that in architecture cunning irregularity is of enormous worth, and it is obvious that he carried on into his verse, perhaps in part unconsciously,. …

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