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This essay examines Hardy's decision at the end of his career as a novelist to return to the "striking socialistic" themes which had defined his first (unpublished) novel. Jude the Obscure is Hardy's exploration of the spiritual and intellectual deprivation that attends the condition of the working-class poor. While the novel was reviled at the time as blatantly "anti-marriage," its fiercest polemic is reserved for the soul-destroying economic and social systems which continued to keep the class structure rigidly intact. While Hardy was never a socialist himself, his final novel has much in common with the numerous socialist and radical movements that were emerging, merging, and dissolving during the final decades of Victoria's reign.

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