Arabella Donn: Character Analysis in - Jude The Obscure

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      Innate cleverness to manage her affairs. Hardy introduces the girl Arabella as one worldly-wise, coarse, sensual, shallow-minded, and light-hearted. She is in the prime of her youth. She wants economic security and considers Jude Fawley eligible for the role. She decides to entrap him utilizing her feminine charms. The inaugural ceremony is something funny though vulgar. She hits him with the pizzle of a slaughtered pig. It was the custom in those days to inflict corporal punishment on mischievous boys utilizing the thick penis of the slaughtered pig. Of course, the punishment was not in the mind of Arabella. Her only purpose was to draw the attention of an eligible young man who may be hooked somehow to be her economic support. The conversation that ensues after her prank is virtually directed by her to her advantage. She gives her bio-date to Jude and coaxingly requests him to call on her next Sunday to become her lover. She uses her natural sex appeal and Jude becomes spellbound as he admiringly looks at her eyes, mouth, well-developed bosom, and round arms wet and firm as marble. Thus the forward coquettish girl wins the first round of her matrimonial attack and the young man in quest of academic degrees becomes enamored of the warmth and thrill of physical contact with this girl.

      The pert hussy ropes in a husband. The impulsive, impetuous, and passionate girl immediately goes ahead in her self-imposed and pleasant task of getting a legally wedded husband. She has no patience to allow her affair with the young man to fructify in its natural course of development. Her latent sensuousness surfaces with a bang. She openly declares "I must have him. I cannot do without him. He is the sort of man I long for. I shall go mad if I can't give myself to him altogether." This open avowal prompts her to take the necessary steps to expedite matters. The novelist expects us to condone the poor girl although she goes out of the way in her extreme eagerness. She meticulously adopts various devices by way of creating opportunities for Jude to seduce her. The inexperienced simpleton is unable to understand the veiled hints thrown at him by way of encouragement to make love to her but she finally succeeds in her attempt. This concocted Seduction happens two or three times and the quack, Vilbert convinces her that she has become pregnant. The news is received by her with great enthusiasm. She can confront Jude with a fait accompli. She has no difficulty in this respect. His sense of honour as a gentleman compels him to adopt the only course open to him i.e., to marry Arabella legally. Her claim that she has become pregnant by him could not be contested. A voluptuous woman of the type of Arabella need not be expected to have any scruples regarding the methods to be employed in the matter of netting in a husband. But in this case, without much ado, everything gets resolved and they say all's well that ends well. At least for the time being all seemed to have ended well.

      The ugly aspect of Arabella. Neither physically nor temperamentally was Arabella an attractive girl. It is the gracious benignity of nature that every girl appears attractive in the prime of her youth. To sustain this for a relatively long period is an art that can be cultivated by only a few and Arabella was unfortunately not among them. After hastily marrying her, Jude repented leisurely because of many repellant characteristics that were revealed in the person of Arabella. The ruse of pregnancy becomes exploded and Arabella nonchalantly declares "Women fancy wrong things sometimes". It was by artificial means that Arabella instilled some charm in her physical appearance, for example, a false cluster of hair contributed to the ample length in the hirsute growth over her head. Arabella justifies it by saying "every - lady of position wears false hair." She could produce a perfect dimple and retain it by continuing to smile. Unfortunately, Jude did not like this artificial dimple. He does not believe that dimples improve the attractiveness of a married woman especially if she happens to be a full-figure like Arabella.

      The contrariety of temperament and interests. Jude had studious habits. He wanted to become a University graduate. Unfortunately, he gets entangled in his love for Arabella. This love need not have shattered the intellectual aspirations of Jude and course would not have, if only Arabella actively encouraged his endeavour for scholastic achievements. Unfortunately, she had the least sympathy for Jude's intellectual pursuits. She handled his books with unreserved contempt. She often spoke sarcastically about his love of University study - "Always thinking of colleges and Christminster instead of attending to his business." Jude had sympathy for suffering birds and animals. This also provoked the contempt of Arabella whose father was a butcher. The abhorrence and unwillingness of Jude in the matter of slaughtering an animal fed by himself is derisively dismissed by Arabella with the remark: "Don't be such a tender-hearted fool". She even scolds him for his awkward slaughtering operations, his incompetence being due to inexperience. Arabella was able to understand that his father used to ill-treat his mother and his father's sister her husband. She taunts him with the remark, "All you be a queer lot as husbands and wives", and complains that Jude too is ill-treating her. Sharp-tongued, she often used to quarrel with him and soon she emigrated to Australia deserting him despite with fact that she had the child of Jude in her womb. She married Jude under an impulse and impulsively did she leave him now. There is no wonder that the child she bore Jude turned out to be a murderer!

      Devoid of all sentiments and highly selfish. All human tender sentiments were conspicuous by their absence in Arabella. Enlightened self-interest further sublimated by the policy of "give and take" cannot be objected to in anyone, but that was not the case with Arabella. She was always governed by motives of enhancing her benefits and profits. After her return from Australia, she meets Jude by chance in the bar where she was working. She had no compunction in prevailing upon him to go to a nearby town to spend a night together in an inn. She speaks of her second marriage in Australia. She divorces Jude but comes to him for help when in trouble. Finally, her revelation of a son by Jude is also characteristic of the woman. The death of this son does not touch her heart at all, much less shock it.

      Apathetic indifference bordering on downright cruelty. When her second husband dies, Arabella becomes religiously inclined and devout only for a short time. She does not hesitate to play tricks on Jude and she makes him inebriated to prevail upon him to marry her. Her own earlier sufferings do not make her sensible and cautions in her behaviour. She becomes utterly indifferent to Jude when his health breaks down. When he is dying she does not hesitate to go out to participate in the festivities after cruelly leaving him behind. After his death to she never feels sorry for Jude. She goes out to witness the boat races, with a comment "yet he is a handsome corpse."

      Unscrupulously amorous and easy-going. What is right and what is wrong she cannot discriminate. No sense of loyalty and fidelity ever adorned her. If she can have economic security with an overdose of amorous dalliance she is ever willing to accompany anyone. A woman of rank passions with self-interest first and foremost in her heart and soul, if ever she had one, she justifies her ambivalence within wedlock and extramarital frivolity with the remark "Well, and what woman don't, I should like to know!" She shamelessly encourages the quack doctor Vilbert to make love to her utilizing his love philter,

      Arabella's role in the story. From the beginning of the story till the end of it Arabella has some role to play, sometimes a minor one and sometimes a major one. The first and foremost role is that of a serious stumbling block for Jude in his progress towards the realization of his intellectual aspiration. If her love had been true or at least less frivolous and lukewarm, Jude would have succeeded to some extent in his intellectual pursuits. He becomes disillusioned long after the marriage when it is too late to retrace his step. He realizes his foolishness in having succumbed to her feminine charms without any positive contribution as can be expected from a genuine love even if it was remarkably inclined towards the sensual side. Her role in working upon Phillotson's mind to facilitate the realization of his faulty step in allowing Sue to live with Jude is noteworthy since when the opportunity arrives in the end Phillotson does indeed take her back. It is Arabella again who informs Phillotson that Sue had severed her connection with Jude after the death of her children which enables Phillotson to write a formal letter to Sue explaining his readiness to take back. Her role as the mother of "Father Time" the child with an octogenarian face who hangs himself and his half-brothers is also very weighty and crucial because it marks the culmination of the tragedy of Jude and Sue. The remark of Arabella towards the end referring to Sue - "She has never found peace since she left Jude's arms and never will again till she is as he is now! (i.e., dead)" - is very appropriate though clumsily blunt, to sum up, the tragic misery Sue has had to experience.

      Flashes of humour amid somber gloom. The novel Jude the Obscure is a somber tragedy that would have affected the readers adversely had it not been for some humorous flashes by way of the remarks of Arabella or the author's funny remarks about something connected with her. Hardy's references to Arabella's "super-numerary hair coils and optional dimples, "amplitudes and "capacious bosom of a flurried woman", "soft parts of her person shook as she jumped up from her bed." etc., provide us with some humour and relieves the boredom of the otherwise somber portrayal of events. References to her itinerant disposition with the remarks "the woman who has been knocking about the four hemispheres for quite some time" or those comparing her to a half pence not new from the mint which has been in circulation for a long time etc, also are humorous. Arabella's remarks such as "Well, weak women must provide for a rainy day. And can't pick and choose now as l could when I was younger. And one must take the old if one can't get the young" is funny for us though they are not without some poignant pathos couched in them. The love philter episode and the flirtation with Dr. Villbert also make us laugh at Arabella's expense.

      Sue and Arabella. The two leading women in the story are opposed to each other. If one can be called sacred love of a higher plane the other is a profane one. In Sue the sources of feeling are reflective and in Arabella, they are immediate and formless.

      Quick and unassuming sex stimulant. Arabella would have been remarkably well suited to Jude if only she had a better I.Q. because Jude who craved an occasional drink of liquor needs quick and unassuming sex to stimulate him into some sort of activity and lift him from the quiescent stupor into which he sinks many a time. Whereas Jude's reaction to Arabella's passionate approaches is sincere, spontaneous, and more human, his behaviour towards Sue is somewhat cool, calculating, reasoning, and cautious. If Jude had not entangled himself with Sue, perhaps Arabella would have stuck to him after her return from Australia.

      No positive virtues. Arabella is a needy woman always craving monetary gain and sexual satisfaction. Hence she is eager to exploit men who may easily become her victims. She has had to use other deceitful artifices which she as a woman can employ with advantage. With economic security as her aim, she makes use of love only to that extent and never takes it to an ideal plane. Whether she believed that she was pregnant or not it was her averred emphasis that she was so, that forced Jude to marry her and the poor fellow had to suffer for this faulty step. Arabella the daughter of a pig-rearer does not want to kill the pig with a quick blow of the butcher's knife. She wants the meat to be well-bled and for that purpose made him meet with a slow death. Jude's own life with long-drawn-out suffering and continuous pain is reflected and ironically hinted at though Arabella does not do so consciously.

      Conclusion. In conclusion, we can sum up the character of Arabella as one that squeezes out of Jude whatever he is capable of yielding, willingly or otherwise. She frequently enters the life of Jude and always goes out with some gains made by her at his expense. Flirtations, marriages, hopes grabbed and given up, absence of long-range plans, spiritless languor, etc., constitute her entire career. If Jude suffers from a benumbing paralysis of the mind or grievous despondency it is because she projected herself as an integral part of his emotional life. Rural areas everywhere in the civilized world do have two sides manifest in them. One of them is bad with ignorance and pain well defined in it while the other one is good with innate frankness, natural beauty, and disarming courage standing out prominently. While Tess the heroine of an earlier novel by Hardy represents the good side Arabella represents the bad side. If she betrays Jude often it is because she cannot help it. Her very being is so constituted, and Hardy has given us a very true and realistic picture because Arabellas are unfortunately abundant in this ill-starred world.

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