Jude the Obscure and Howards End

The novel by Thomas Hardy, ‘Jude the Obscure’, and E. M. Forster’s ‘ Howard’s End’, are two novels narrating the lives and times of various people These chronicle the environmental and social aspects surrounding the characters in them, and their progression through life. Each delivers a stark contrast in the lives of the main characters, and the different troubles and pleasures they incur during their lifetime.

This essay will show a connection between these two novels in the context that they display the image of the rural and the historic, international image that the British common wealth established amongst the rest of the worlds cultures. The first area that needs to be addressed when answering this question is the image of the rural. The simple, universal definition of the term rural in Standard English, means the characteristics of, or pertaining to the country and the people living in the country.

The novel by Thomas Hardy ‘Jude The Obscure’ is the best source to draw details and perceptions for this idea of the rural, as the theme and it’s main character Jude, is largely based on his rural lifetime. When thinking about the rural, often one of the first images we get is the image of a livelihood based around agriculture. Agriculture and other simple professions seem to be the main stay of the economic structure of a rural environment. Evidence for this image can be found in ‘Jude The Obscure’. From Jude’s early life as a boy we see him scaring away birds from crops Just now he’s a-scaring of birds for farmer Troutham.

It keeps him out of mischty. ” (Page 17’Jude the obscure’) This quote also is symbolic of the language differences within the rural and the urbane. The city linguistic system is more proper in the sense that they don’t conjoin words or shorten words ‘mischty’ being an example of the latter. The image of the rural, as seen in terms of their work is primitive and largely agricultural. The rural people are seen to live in a less sophisticated habitat, boarding rooms and lodges; also small farming cottages are often the main perceptions of rural habitats.

Another major aspect of the perception of the rural can be described as a ‘small town attitude’. What this means, is that the people within the community are tightly knit and highly communicative. It could also be suggested that these ‘small town attitude’ people have a resentment for the more urbane people, this is also in the text of ‘Jude the obscure’. They may be right in some cases but as Jude displays in Hardy’s novel, he aspires to be more city like. He reads to become more intellectual, wiser and to master the various linguistic abilities of the higher social class.

There are two main other cases which display common rural activities. These are the tendencies to go to church and to commune in public houses. There are several scenes set where Jude is in a Public house, either trying to assimilate himself with the more intellectual parts of society, of which he fails, and other times when he is simply drinking away his sorrows. The rural, in the sense of the image that the novel ‘Jude the obscure’ portrays or proposes, suggests many common theologies about the life style.

These can be summarized but may not be fully comprehended in the manner in which they where supposed to be taken. These are, in their simplest form, unsophisticated habitats, lower levels of education, primitive livelihoods, small town attitudes, simple customs, and to embody the thoughts of the urbane type, a society full of poverty which in their eyes is unhappiness. This next part of the essay will show the customs, traditions, and behavior of the different classes within the city. These will mainly be drawn from the novel by E. M. Forster’s ‘Howard’s End’. Howard’s End’ shows what most see as the idea of England at that time. What has to be taken into account is the three distinct social classes we have within this novel, and which all interact with one another in some way. Three families, the Schlegel family, the Wilcox family, and the Bast family represent the three social classes in this novel. These three families are a good depiction of the types of people dwelling in the main English cities of that time. The first of these families is the Wilcox family. Mr. Wilcox summarizes the depiction of this social class.

He represents the hard working, pragmatic and chauvinistic middle class trying to step up to the upper class. He owns a rural estate, Howard’s End, which he has earned through him being a prominent businessman. This is an example of his materialistic characteristics. The next class of family to be considered is the Schlegel family. In ‘Howard’s End’ they are depicted as being very cultured and intellectual, as well as very wealthy. They are of pure English blood, of which was important at that time due to the industrial competitiveness between England and Germany. “”Of course I regard you Schlegels as English,” said Mrs.

Munt hastily – “English to the backbone. “” (Page12 ‘Howard’s End’) They are very cultured and of a high decorum. The remaining family, that will complete our examination of the three varying social types that coexist in the city, are the Bast family. They are on the lowest line of the middle class, enough money for food, clothes and shelter. Leonard Bast is symbolic of his class, hard working but impoverished, ever trying to enter that upper echelon, but never making it. Leonard will become a key talking point in linking the image of the rural to the idea of England.

This completes a brief overview of the three social classes within an English city of the time in the novel ‘Howard’s End’. The idea of England that these social classes give is fairly broad. Perceptions range from the intelligent and good social etiquette, which live for the happiness that their money brings. They classes with money visit different countries, go to plays and performances, and more importantly vacate to the rural estate, Howard’s End. One can also feel the discrimination of foreign blood and cultures, feel the conceited nature of the English.

An example of this was previously mentioned and quoted earlier from a conversation between Mrs. Mund and Margaret Schlegal. From this novel can be drawn the gentlemanly, chauvinistic behavior, characteristic of so many peoples perceptions of the English. If you also back this up with the manner in which the characters in ‘Howard’s End’ speak for example “” I hope Miss Avery is not ill,” hazarded Margaret, “Well, if you’ll excuse me,” said Madge, “perhaps I ought to be leaving you now… ” (Page310 ‘Howard’s End’) Compared with the more rural language of those in ‘Jude The Obscure’ “Well ye med ask it Mrs. Williams. He’s my great nephew – come since you were last this way. “”(Page 16 ‘Jude The Obscure’) If one were to be vicarious in thinking about the book and hear the accent, grammatical, and linguistic make up of the characters conversations it is easy to gain this idea of how the English conduct themselves in social conversational encounters. It is easy to see how other cultures such as the German, or Nigerian cultures, some of the places visited by characters in ‘Howard’s End’, might have perceived this behavior.

But for those nations which are visited by those classes with money, they become ignorant to the fact that they are not the only class and kind of people within England. If people from these other countries where to visit not only the cities of England, as most would do, but also the rural, this idea of the English might not be so distorted as what it is. ‘Howard’s End’ tries to explain this. It tries to put forward the fact that, for England to exist, every social class must interact in order for the survival of the nation.

In the case of ‘Howard’s End’, it arranges three different social classes interacting, and eventually learning to peaceably live with one another. ‘Jude The Obscure’ is showing a time when this was in early stage of evolution. The rural wanted to stay rural, but an ever-increasing amount wanted to become more urbane and sophisticated. This leads to the next point of discussion. The next area of significance in answering this question is the graduation from rural to city, and the connection with which these two novels, ‘Jude The Obscure’ and ‘Howard’s End’ explain this.

There is a common relation between the theme country to city. In most cases the city and urbane society see the rural as a place to relax, in ‘Howard’s End’ this is an example, a rural setting for which the characters usually find peaceful. These types of people appreciate that facts of rural life but could never live the rural lifestyle like the one portrayed in ‘Jude The Obscure’, they need to have the commodities in life that the city offers. But this social class would not be the same without their rural experience of Howard’s End.

Then the rural society has a completely different outlook. There are some who aspire to live in the city, like Jude, but there are those who are content with their ignorant conceitedness towards the city and it’s population. As mentioned previously, there is a major connection between two of the characters within the novels ‘Howard’s End’ and ‘Jude The Obscure’. Jude and Leonard Bast are inexplicably similar in their plights in their live. They have many aspects, manners, outlooks, and aspirations in common. This will be the next area to be looked at..

There are five major traits that Leonard Bast and Jude from ‘Howard’s End’ and ‘Jude The Obscure’ respectively, have in common, in relation to their roles and experiences within each of the novels. The first of these traits is that both are economically on the same means, just enough to get by in life without many luxuries. Jude is above all a stonemason, Leonard, a low profile insurance worker. They are both also trying to better themselves on an intellectual level by reading constantly, hoping that their further knowledge would improve their chances of prospering in life.

Both of these characters hope by attaining this extra knowledge that they can become assimilated with the social class of their desire. Both characters also have dramatic, romantic relationships, especially in the case of Leonard Bast, who was eventually killed because of his romantic interests What we gain from the studies of these two texts ‘Howard’s End’ and ‘Jude The Obscure’ is an understanding of how the image of the rural is related to the idea of England. It could be suggested that from these two novels we can see the evolution of a nation.

The notion that the rural evolved into the urban is present in all developed nations, and held as fact. If it were not for the rural lifestyles, people would not have known what they would have needed to improve their standard of living. A nation’s urbane did not develop its rural community; a nation’s rural community developed the city and the urban lifestyle and social classes that go with it. The novel ‘Jude The Obscure’ shows a progression from a very primitive rural life, to that of a very primitive urban life.

From the novel ‘Howard’s End’ one can contrive a pattern of evolution of social class and standard of living within the text. From one perspective it could be shown that the Bast family evolved into the Wilcox family, and then from the Wilcox family, the Schlegel family evolved. This statement is using the family names as a metaphor for the social class which each of the families stand for. The image of the rural is depicted in ‘Jude The Obscure’, as is the image of the urbane in ‘Howard’s End’.

This image of the urbane in ‘Howard’s End’ became what was and may still be the idea of England. In particular, this image of the urbane, and more specifically the upper class Schlelegel family, personified the idea of England and it’s Common Wealth to other peoples and their nations. The idea of England became this educated, literal, and cultural view, a population of intellectuals focused on pleasure, world dominance, and traditions supported by wealth and religion, with which their military power brought them at that time.

The idea of England, which is concieved by most today, is taken without any original stimulus from which to formulate such an idea. By looking into these two novels one can gain a much more educated and well-founded view of what England was, and should be perceived as in terms of a nation. What this means is that without all the social classes and development from rural to urbane, England would not exist as the nation and country that it is today.

Further more, neither would any other developed nation, such as the United States and the worldly perception held of them currently. They have the rural and the urbane. The whole country is not one rich military powerhouse. It is built upon its varying social societies. This is the same philosophy, which must be taken when looking at the idea of England. This is the point that must be taken when correlating the idea of England with the image of the rural, not as independent entities, but as one entire comprehension.

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