Jude The Obscure: Part 1, Chapter 11 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 1: Chapter XI

      Synopsis: A nasty quarrel between husband and wife - Jude throws out his books tells about his father and aunt's broken marriage - confirmed by old aunt - futile attempt to commit suicide - Arabella leaves him to go to Australia - she sells even his picture Jude overcomes the rude shocks - firm decision to achieve his aims and ideals.

      Arabella pick up the thread and a quarrel again. Next morning at about 8 o'clock Arabella seemed to be bent upon picking a quarrel with Jude. After raising last night's topic she began to throw out Jude's cherished classics lying at a table upon the floor. Jude could not bear it any longer. He caught hold of her arms and forced her to leave off. In the process her hair became disshevelled. Mad with rage she herself unfastened several buttons of her gown, went out into the highway and began to move up and down purposely. When pedestrians stared at his strange spectacle, she shamelessly told them that it was what her husband had done to her. Jude first went out to drag her in by force, but stopped, thinking that all was over between them. Then Jude was absolutely upset when she told him that father also ill-used his mother and his aunt ill-treated her husband.

      Jude goes to his aunt for confirmation; attempt at suicide. A shocked and surprised Jude rushed to his aunt's house for confirmation. And she confirmed everything. He was so much disheartened that on his way back he thought of committing suicide. Jude reached a frozen pond and walked to the middle of it. He jumped on the ice thinking that it would give way and he would be drowned. But that did not happen. Failing in his ignoble attempt he went straight to a public house to get himself drunk to drown his sorrows.

      Arabella leaves Jude; decision to go to Australia. Jude staggered homewards late at night. But after reaching home he found that Arabella had left her leaving a note - "Have gone to my friends. Shall not return". Three days passed and she did not come back. Finally he received a letter from her telling him that she was absolutely tired of him "and she did not care for the sort of life he led". She further informed him that her parents were going to emigrate to Australia soon and she was also going to accompany them. He sent' his reply stating that he had no objection and enclosed some money in the packet containing the letter. When he came to know there was to be an auction at their house Jude sent all his household goods to Arabella for her benefit.

      Arabella's heartlessness; Jude's fresh decision to go to Christminster. A few days later Jude went to a dingy broker's shop in the town. There he was rudely shocked to find his own framed photograph that he had presented to Arabella on their wedding day. Along with other articles this had also been auctioned. This very painfully revealed "the utter death of every tender sentiment in his wife..." She did not even condescend to meet him before her departure.

      The very next evening after their departure he had a stroll along the too familiar road towards the upland. A little further on was the summit from where he had had his first glimpse of his 'heavenly Jerusalem'. He also found the old milestone pointing towards that city. Long ago he had inscribed the word, 'Thither', on it. When he could discern the letters, he was inspired with a new zeal to battle with his evil stars. He took a firm decision to go to Christminster to achieve his ambition in life.

Critical Analysis
      Jude and Arabella, poles apart - separation inevitable. This chapter very finally reveals that the marriage between the sensitive, intellectual and ambitious man and the sensuous, vulgar and matter-of-fact female animal cannot last long. In their temperaments and ideas they are poles apart. So just a flimsy quarrel is enough to make Arabella run away from her husband's house. Then the sale of Jude's picture presented to her on the wedding day shows that she is absolutely void of tender sentiments. On the other hand Jude's soft and sensitive nature leads him to the verge of self-destruction.

      Jude survives the shocks to follow the right path again. The best thing about Jude is that he has been able to overcome the rude shocks and knocks of life. After the harrowing experience of his short married life he is a riper and more experienced person. The word, 'Thither', once inscribed by him on a milestone, inspires him once more. He remembers Spinoza's words - to do good cheerfully - and takes a fresh vow to battle with his evil star and proceed to Christminster to achieve his aims and ideals of life.

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