Whoever said that classics are plain and boring certainly hasn’t read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
Jude Fawley is a young boy in the quaint town of Marygreen. When the town schoolmaster, Richard Phillotson, moves to Christminster, Jude vows to escape the countryside one day and make it to Christminster, where the center of universities and higher learning are.
Having a real passion for learning, Jude educates himself by reading dozens of books while working as a stone mason. At the age of 19, Jude was tricked into marrying Arabella Donn, the first person of the opposite sex he’s had any sort of interaction with. Hence he reluctantly let go of his dreams of being educated.
The marriage turns sour, and Arabella migrates with her family to Australia. Feeling free once again, Jude took this opportunity to leave for Christminster. He learns that he has a cousin also in Christminster, the lovely Sue Bridehead. He develops an infatuation for Sue and falls in love with her. Refined, educated and outspoken, Sue is a far cry from his plucked from nowhere bride. An undeniable fondness and admiration develop between the two despite them being aware of their relation.
Funny enough, Sue disapproves of them continuing their affection for each other when Jude confessed that he is married by law to Arabella. (even if she has gone way down under).
Sue then marries the schoolmaster Richard Phillotson, whom Jude has contacted when he first arrived at Christminster.
But even if she is lawfully married to Phillotson, Sue still finds herself having clandestine tete a tetes with Jude. Unable to handle the guilt and passion, she requests her husband to ‘let her go’ to be with her cousin Jude. Phillotson agrees and soon he was voted out of the University he teaches in, for setting a shameful example of tolerating adultery. Talk about compassion from the public—twice a victim!
Sue and Jude try hard to have a normal life together, but both of them refused to wed thinking that marriage will ruin the passionate relationship that they have. Soon, a letter from Arabella arrives, saying that she and Jude have a son together and is on his way to be with Jude. Jude and Sue accept the boy as their own, named him Jude and nicknamed him Father Time. But the boy is far too mature for his age, way too observant and perceptive, displaying almost no happiness nor emotion.
Hard times were showered generously on Jude and Sue, especially when people learned of their relation. They were treated as outcasts by the town and Jude’s work orders diminished drastically. They decided to move towns but no one would take them, especially with 4 children (Father Time, 2 children of their own, and one more due in a month) Father Time then rightfully lamented to Sue that she should stop bearing children, and thought that having children is making their lives miserable.
Later, they find Jude junior (Father Time) dead, he hung himself—but not without strangling his two half brother and sister first and also tying them up in the ceiling.
Sue loses the child in her womb and after this incident, shedecided to stop living in sin, and tried to correct the mistake she made by going back to Phillotson, who readily accepted her again. Meanwhile, Arabella was long back from Australia and realized that she liked Jude still. So for the second time, she tricked Jude into re-marrying her.
Even Hollywood hasn’t come up with a plot as scandalous. The real Jerry Springer.