In the beginning, Jude's tale has the makings of a real rags-to-riches story. Jude is a classic small-town kid with big dreams, and he has the drive to achieve what he wants. It is no accident that at one point Sue compares him to two of the biggest dreamers ever, Joseph of Biblical and musical theatre fame and Don Quixote of literary and, oddly, also of musical theatre fame. Jude is a young man with a passion for learning who aspires to be a professor despite his position in the working class. He works as a stone-mason, and academic life is always outside of his reach. The novel follows his career woes and his tumultuous love life, centered on his tragic relationship with cousin Sue Bridehead.
Jude Fawley in the Essays