Jude the Obscure

Gender in Jude the Obscure and Sons and Lovers

In her book Towards a Recognition of Androgyny, Carolyn Heilbrum defines androgyny as "a condition under which the characteristics of the sexes, and the human impulses expressed by men and women, are not rigidly assigned (Heilbrum 10). In Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, Sue is depicted in a comparable gender-neutral way. In the novel's introduction, Dennis Taylor describes Sue as being "distractible and unfocused in her sexuality" (Taylor xxvi). She seems to view men as comrades, or one of her own, rather than objects of sexual desire. Through descriptions, Sue is sometimes described in a manner that does not place emphasis on masculine or feminine qualities. In addition, Sue despises the restraints placed upon females during her era. Just as Sue struggles with her femininity and overcoming her gender's norms, Paul Morel in D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers faces a similar battle in maintaining his masculinity. Mary Burgan writes that Paul Morel is one of the most "powerful twentieth century advocates of sexual liberation," yet he is defenseless against a "woman's power" as "mother of the artist" (Burgan 178). Paul Morel and Sue Bridehead's lack of appropriate...

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