Jude The Obscure: Part 6, Chapter 10 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 6: Chapter X

      Synopsis: Mrs Edlin comes to see Jude - Jude gets the shock of his life knowing about Sue's bodily surrender to her husband - frank talk with her - Doctor Vilbert abused by Jude - Arabclla meets him in the passage - offers drink mixed with love-philter - Vilbert kissing the vulgar woman.

      Mrs Edlin comes to see Jude - his frank talk with her. Jude recovered to some extent and could go to work for some weeks. But he fell ill again after Christmas. Arabella would tell him rudely that by marrying her again he had got a nurse for nothing. But Jude did not pay any heed. He would lie alone for long and mumble about his past life and Sue. Arabella felt disgusted and would remark he was still as bad as when they had been married for the first time. But unexpectedly Mrs Edlin came to see him one day. When Arabella left them alone Jude asked if Sue and Phillotson were still husband and wife in name. And when he came to know from her that Sue had, at last, surrendered to her husband physically just to punish herself, it seemed the last straw was taken away from the drowning man. With bitter sorrow he told the widow that when their minds were clear and their love of truth fearless, "the time was not ripe for us! Our ideas were fifty years too soon to be any good to us. And to the resistance they met with brought reaction in her and recklessness and ruin on me".

      Arabella's shameless overture to Dr Vilbert. Just then there was a knock at the door downstairs. Mrs Edlin went down and opened the door. The quack doctor announced that he had been called in by Arabella for Jude's treatment. Knowing from her that he was much worse that day, he rushed up into his room. But this time Jude expressed his unkind opinion about him in such a frank and rude manner that Dr Vilbert scurried down in no time. But he met Arabella at the door. Finding that the doctor looked much ruffled, she asked him to wait in the passage and soon offered him a glass of wine. But then she laughed aloud and told him that she had mixed with his drink his own love-philter that she had purchased from him at the Agricultural Show. The quack was clever enough to guess her move and was quite prompt to put his hands around her shoulder and kiss her just then. And she mockingly told to refrain from it as her husband might notice.

Critical Analysis
      Jude's regrets - their ideas much ahead of time. After hearing from Widow Edlin about Sue's surrender to her husband physically in spite of all her aversion, Jude gets the final shock of his life. He sadly regrets that Sue's intellect, which was to him like a star to a benzoline lamp, was absolutely clouded after that tragic loss of their children. He is quite correct when he says that their unconventional ideas were much ahead of their time and that the resistance they met with has brought reaction in her, and recklessness and ruin on him. Thus their responses show the difference in their characters.

      Arabella at her worst-humour tinged with pathos. Arabella has again been painted in the vilest colours in this chapter. The shameless woman's offer of drink mixed with love-philter may look funny and amusing, but the fun or humour is tinged with deep pathos when we remember that her husband is on his deathbed. Then her ideas that "a weak woman must provide for a rainy day" or "it's well to keep chances open", reveal what a heartless and selfish woman without any moral sense she is.

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