One of Jude Fawley's ambitions in life is a university education, but his dreams come crashing down around him when he is forced into marriage with Arabella. The marriage doesn't last long before his new bride abandons him for a different life.
Left with nothing more than his broken dreams, Jude moves to the city of Christminster, where he finds work as a stonemason. Here, he falls in love with Sue Bridehead, a woman of modern thinking. The two thwart convention and decide to live together instead of marrying; this results in the two of them being shunned by society. Eventually, their lack of convention sends them spiraling into poverty.
Jude the Obscure was Thomas Hardy's last novel. When first published, it was considered highly controversial due to its focus on an unconventional relationship and disregard for the rules of society.