Jude The Obscure: Part 1, Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 1: Chapter IX

      Synopsis: The quack doctor's advice to Arabella - tells Jude about her pregnancy honest Jude trapped and tricked into bonds of matrimony - disillusionment comes soon - she puts on wigs, makes false dimples - had been a bar - mind - final confession about him mistaken pregnancy - Jude disheartened but wiser.

      Arabella tricks Jude into bond of matrimony. For a period of two months the lovers had been meeting constantly. Arabella was always expecting something to happen, but it did not. So she met the quack-doctor Vilbert and explained everything to him. He gave her his advice that cheered her up. Meanwhile Jude was getting disgusted about this affair. And so when he met her next time he proposed it would be better if they stopped it. But Arabella with tears streaming down her eyes told him that she was pregnant and her life would be ruined if he deserted her then. Honest and simple and inexperienced as he was, Jude immediately consoled her by saying that he would never desert if that were the case. And he would, of course, marry her although from a worldly standpoint he was not in a position to undertake such a great responsibility. He also realised that it was a complete smashing up of his plans. Soon the sending ceremony took place. Arabella's parents were happy, but the neighbours called him a simpleton, saying: "AIl his reading had only come to this, that he would have to sell his books to buy saucepans." And his maiden great-aunt wished he had gone under ground years before with his father and mother so that he could not have committed such a stupid act.

      Jude: disappointed and disillusioned. Very soon some unexpected discoveries in respect of his newly-wed wife brought about painful disillusionment for Jude. Of course the prospects of the married couple were not very brilliant as Jude was absolutely unprepared for this hasty marriage. The first shock came when Jude found out on the very first night after their marriage that her thick long hair was just a wig. Her pleas to justify it could not satisfy Jude. Then came another painful shock when he was told that she had been a barmaid at Aldbrickham for some time. And when he found that she was in the habit of making artificial dimples on her cheeks he was much displeased. Meanwhile one day she met her old friends. When she frankly told them that she was mistaken about her pregnancy they warned her that Jude might feel that he had been tricked into marriage by her. She did not take it seriously. Then a day came when Jude wanted to know exactly when the body was expected. Arabella had to divulge that she had made a mistake. There was no pregnancy. Jude was shocked and aghast. He felt like an animal "caught in a gin which would cripple him, if not her also, for the rest of a lifetime."

Critical Analysis
      More about Arabella's character and her revelations. The darker shades of Arabella's character have been clearly revealed in this chapter. She is not simple village wench. She is an odd mixture of stupidity and sophistication. She would put on a wig, would make artificial dimples but she admits without any seriousness that she was mistaken about her pregnancy. And then she tries to justify herself in a very stupid manner that shocks and exasperates poor Jude to the extreme.

      Jude realises his mistake - a sad, but wiser person. After knowing from Arabella that she was not at all in the family way, simple and inexperienced Jude realises what a blunder he has committed by marrying in such haste. He blames the social custom or ritual that compels a person to be bound up for life for committing a mistake of the kind due to some inherent urge and due to the weakness of the moment. Jude's life has taken a tragic turn.

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