There can be found several themes in Jude the Obscure, which show and somehow explain the Victorian era and the way people were influenced by social conventions. Unfortunately, the impact was rather negative, even devastating in case of Jude the Obscure. Stephen Coote characterized the novel as "the tragedy of unfulfilled aims" (564). Not only desires such as becoming a well educated scholar and experiencing the state of equality of social classes are included, but especially the theme of marriage creates the major theme in the novel. .
The main characters, Jude and Sue do not achieve the happiness in their relationship since they are limited by the social conventions and by incomprehension of people around. Society is not able to view on coexistence of male and female without being married. "As to our going on together as we were going, in sort of friendly way, the people round us would have made in unable to continue" (Jude 143). Jude and Sue break the rule and live together without being married which consequently causes that they are despised by their surroundings. They have to cope with difficult conditions but the fight against conventions is lost in advance and culminates when their three children are found dead. Even though Jude and Sue love each other, Sue leaves and get married with Phillotson again which is getting her down. The society, however finds this moral. Jude becomes wretched and dies. .
The reason why their views on marriage differ from the rest of society might be caused by their previous experience. Jude's marriage with "sensuous and degrading Arabella" (Coote, 564) results in abandonment of his studies, thus he never rises above being a stonemason. The marriage witch Arabella did not have positive impact on his life. There can be seen other impacts in the novel. Sue is influenced by Arabella in terms of marriage and jealousy and also a character of Little Father Time, who comes from Jude and Arabella's marriage, has an impact on their relationship.