Jude The Obscure: Part 1, Chapter 7 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 1: Chapter VII

      Synopsis: Jude vacillates - ultimately succumbs to Arabella's attraction - meets her again and out for a long stroll the distant fire and the delay in returning - submits to her physical charms - a passionate girl's determination to marry Jude by hook or by crook.

      Jude vacillates, but then leaves his books to meet Arabella. Sunday afternoon was already fixed by Jude for studying the Greek Testament from his new book. So he felt he should not pay his visit to Arabella's though he accepted her invitation. But he began to vacillate. Ultimately Arabella's attraction seemed to be too strong and he decided not to break faith with her. For the first time in his life some irresistible force moved him along against his will "towards one embrace of a woman for whom he had no respect, and whose life had nothing in common with his own except locality". Soon he arrived at the girl's house and knocked at her door. It seemed her father knew about his visit and it was he who announced his arrival to Arabella and welcomed him.

      Out for a long stroll. Arabella came downstairs ready in her walking attire. She wanted to go out for a stroll without any delay. Jude consented and proposed to have a walk up to the Brown House to be back in half-an-hour. Soon they reached that House, the spot of his fervid desire to behold Christminster. But he forgot all about his high ambition in life in the company of the handsome country wench. Arabella could discern smoke and fire rising from a distant village and she proposed they should go there to have look at it. Jude had no heart to thwart her inclination. But they could not gauge the distance. It was three miles from Arabella's place and they reached there at about five o' clock. While returning their course lay through the town of Alfredston. Arabella wanted to have some tea, so they entered a public house (an inn). As they could not get tea promptly, they ordered beer. They were refreshed and resumed their journey back. It was nearly dark now. Simple Jude was rather shy and hesitant to put his arm round her waist, although Arabella wanted it very much. He simply offered his arm and she, just to encourage him, took it up to her shoulder. And finally when Arabella inclined her head on his shoulder he could not but encircle her waist with his arm and resist his temptation to kiss her for the first time. They now moved clasped together and Jude kissed her again and again. It was nine o'clock when they were back at Arabella's place, though Jude's intention was to be back at his own place by half-fast-five to continue his studies. Arabella invited him to come in for a moment and Jude was much confused when so many unknown persons congratulated him, taking him to be her intended partner. But Jude did not take the affair so seriously and wanted to keep it secret. And when Jude was back at his aunt's place it was quite late. His book was still lying in the same place regarding him with fixed reproach in grey starlight. He had his pangs of conscience, but he consoled himself by thinking: "I was better to love a woman than to be a graduate, or a parson; ay, or a pope!".

      Arabella's determination to marry Jude. Jude left his aunt's home early next morning for his own place at Alfredston. On his way back he came to the same spot where he had kissed a girl for the first time. Young and romantic Jude was almost overwhelmed with emotion. He went ahead. And after some time there came Arabella along the same way with the same two companions. But that romantic spot had no effect on the matter-of-fact soul of this girl. She was telling everything about their meeting and their talk just to satisfy the curiosity of the two girls. Finally she told them that she was deeply in love with Jude and she was determined to marry him. One of the girls imparted some information in a very low tone to Arabella on the best procedure to catch a husband. The procedure to be adopted frightened her a bit, but she made up her mind to try it in spite of the risk involved.

Critical Analysis
      Jude completely under Arabella's spell - her plan to capture him. Our honest and studious hero, Jude, is now, more or less, completely under the spell of this 'complete and substantial female animal. It was but natural for a warm-blooded youth of eighteen to be carried away thus by the call of flesh. We feel sorry for Jude. But Arabella proves herself to be scheming as well as sensual and passionate. In a hungry tone of latent sensuousness she tells her friends: "I shall go mad it I can't give myself to him altogether!". She is so much enamoured to him that she makes up her mind to entice him to have sexual intercourse so that she might compel him to marry him afterwards saying she had become pregnant. This was the advice whispered to her by one of her friends on how to ensnare a man completely.

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