Jude is based on the novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. In Victorian England, Jude Fawley (Christopher Eccleston) is a young man who dreams of a scholarly university education. Instead, he becomes a stonemason and marries a poor country girl, Arabella Donn (Rachel Griffiths). But Jude continues to pursue his dream, and after his wife's sudden departure, he moves to Christminster, a city with a prestigious University. There he meets and falls in love with his free-spirited cousin, Sue Bridehead (Kate Winslet). This is only the beginning of Jude's troubles, since he is still married to Arabella and neither he nor Sue have any money nor steady source of income.