The 11 worst couples in literature


No. 7.  Arabella Donn and Jude Fawley from Jude the Obscure

Spoiler alert!

Wonderful writing, but such a sad tale. Jude was the first adult book I ever read. Bromley Public Library. A strange choice really, especially given the ending! Even so, I could tell there was something magical about it. “But his dreams were as gigantic as his surroundings were small.” Poor Jude. Life just somehow got in the way.

In his late teens Jude meets and is seduced by Arabella. Jude’s first encounter with Arabella is when she interrupts his scholarly dreaming by throwing a pig’s penis at him. To some readers she is Trouble-With-a-Capital-T, to others she is a sympathetic character – good humoured, practical, emotionally intelligent. Arabella informs Jude that she is pregnant and the gentle Jude gives up on his dreams of a scholar’s life at Christminster (Oxford?) to marry her. When she then reveals that she was ‘mistaken’ about her pregnancy, Jude feels tricked and trapped. It is not a great beginning to marital bliss. Before long Arabella leaves for Australia where she remarries bigamously.

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