Jude The Obscure: Part 3, Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 3: Chapter VIII

      Synopsis: Jude's obsession - dreaming about Sue's return to him - to Marygreen to see ailing aunt - writes to Sue to come and see aunt - goes to Christminster in quest of job-at the bar an unexpected meeting with Arabella - Arabella befouls him once more - they go to Aldbrickham to pass a night at an inn.

      Jude's obsession - to Marygreen to the ailing aunt. After the departure of the newly - married couple Jude was terrible depressed. He could not stay at home and so went to his customary work for the afternoon. But there he begin to ponder that Sue could never go with Phillotson for good, when must come back to him. And after going back to his lodgings he enquired if anybody had come to meet him. Alas! No one had come. He waited in the sitting-room in vain without taking his supper till midnight expecting her to come back to him. In this hopelessness Jude then "projected his mind into the future, and saw her with children, more or less in her own likeness around her'. During these days of strain and stress Jude unexpectedly received a letter from Marygreen informing him about his aunt's serious illness. And simultaneously he had a letter from his former employer at Christminster offering him permanent work. The letters came as a great relief to him. Jude decided to see his ailing aunt first and then to proceed to Christminster to meet his former employer. At Marygreen he found his aunt in a precarious condition. He wrote to Sue that if she wanted to see her alive, she might come the very next evening. He would then meet her at Alfredston road on his way back from Christminster.

      Jude at Christminster-visits a bar. Jude was at Christminster after a pretty long time. But it seemed to him that he had lost all feeling for this great city of learning. He first went to the street in which he saw Sue for the first time. But the intellectual and devotional worthies there could not move him to emotion any more. Next he went to the stone-yard. Though he got a good offer, he felt that it would not be possible for him to return to this place of his vanished dreams. On his way back from the stone-yard be met his old friend Tinder Taylor. He invited him to have a drink with him at a bar. They came to their old inn where once Jude had boasted of his learning in a drunken mood. It was now a popular tavern renovated and newly furnished. Tinker Taylore left the place soon after drinking off his glass. Jude wanted to tarry as he was tired and had time in hand.

      Arabella, a barmaid - an unexpected meeting. Jude settled himself down on a sofa comfortable to rest for a while. He could never dream that a great surprise was in store for him there. He saw a barmaid attending to a person, and when she turned her face towards his compartment, to his shock and surprise he recognised her to be none other than long-lost Arabella. She was so busy in serving and exchanging pleasantries with a handsome and dissipated fellow that she had no time to look in Jude's direction. But her presence could not raise any ripple in Jude's mind. He even felt indifferent to the fact that once Arabella had been his wife. But soon the young fellow left . After a brief thought he went to the counter and there with a shock Arabella recognised him. Her first reaction was rather rude and vulgar telling him that she had thought him to be in his grave by that time. Then she offered him drinks at her cost, which he declined. They naturally wanted to know about each other. When told him that she had come back from Sydney some three months back. But she did not like to tell why she had left Australia. Jude on his part told here he was then neither a Don nor a Reverend; he was still as he had been. Then Arabella requested him to come after nine, as she wanted to talk with him freely. Jude knew that in that case he would not be able to meet Sue at Alfredston, but he had to agree to Arabella's proposal.

      Jude and Arabella at Aldbrickham. It was painful for Jude not to keep his promise with Sue, yet he arrived at the bar at the fixed time. Arabella first prevailed on him to have a glass of wine with her. Soon she came out, took his arm and began to walk towards the station. Suddenly she said that as he was a known person there and as she had some important things to talk about, it would be better if they took the nine-forty train to Aldbrickham and pass the night there at an inn. They made the half-hour's journey and passed the night at a very cheap inn. It was beyond Jude to understand the motives of this 'complete and substantial female animal'.

Critical Analysis
      Hardy's views on the role of chance and nature. This chapter offers us some idea about Hardy's view on the role of chance and nature in human life. While thinking about Sue's expected children of her marriage with Phillotson, he is much grieved to think of 'wilfulness of Nature in not allowing issue from one parent alone'. And when we see the unexpected and accidental meeting between Jude and Arabella in the bar at Christminster we can realise what a great part chance is going to play in shaping their destinies. One cannot help but notice Hardy's view of Nature and its hostility to Man in the sentence: "And then be (Jude) again uneasily saw, as he had latterly seen with more and more frequency, the scorn of Nature for man's finer emotions, and her lack of interest in his aspirations."

      Jude's passivity and Arabella's aggressiveness. We are surprised to find Jude's passivity and submissive attitude before Arabella. He first accedes to her request to meet her at about nine in the evening and then agrees to pass a night with her at Aldbrickham. Probably he does it as he feels: "Arabella was perhaps an intended intervention to punish him for his unauthorised love." And there is not the least change in Arabella. She is the same passionate, aggressive, scheming female animal.

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