Jude The Obscure: Part 4, Chapter 1 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 4: Chapter I

      Synopsis: Shaston, a cliff-town with its past glory - Jude meets Sue at her school a lot of reciprocity between them-Sue's strange behaviour-conflict in her sou pressing a photograph against her bosom-Jude to come back again.

      Shaston, a clif-town, with a glorious past. Once upon a time Shaston or Palladour was really a famous place with all its glorious churches, its shrines and chantries and its gabled freestone mansion. This town once became a place of pilgrimage for every part of Europe as the bones of King Edward "The Martyr", was kept here for holy preservation. But all was in ruins now. It could not be connected by a railway, so people had to go there either on foot or by light vehicles. Its only importance now was thar become the resting place and headquarters of the merchants who used to go to various fairs and markets in other parts.

      Jude meets Sue at Shaston - the reciprocity between them. One fine Friday afternoon Jude reached this breezy and whimsical spot. He moved towards the school-house. Jude began to play that hymn on the piano in one of the classrooms. When Sue came in he asked her to play it for him. She played it with so much emotion that after she had finished it they grasped each other's hands quite warmly. So in spite of their differences in the realm of intellect Jude could not but say 'O, but you are one of that sort for you are just like me at heart!" And when he told her that he went to meet the composer of that hymn, Sue told him with surprise that when had also thought of doing the same. Then they had their tea. Mr. Phillotson was away that afternoon to attend some meeting. After that they talked on quite intimately for sometime. But in the end they had a bit of a tiff when Jude told that sometimes he thought her to be a flirt. And Sue rather harshly asked him not to tarry as her husband was away. When Jude went out she jumped up and opened the window and told him she could talk to him better like this for some time more as there was still some time in hand to catch the coach. They went on talking softly. But after a while Sue thanked him heartily and suddenly told him that he often impressed her as Joseph the dreamer of dreams or as a tragic Don Quixote or sometimes as St. Stephen. She added that with such a temperament he might be suffering a lot in life. And then she surprised him by saying that in spite of her marriage she was not really Mrs. Richard Phillotson, but a woman tossed about, all alone, with aberrant passions, and unaccountable antipathies. Before bidding good-bye she invited him to come again.

      An unexpected sight - Sue and a picture: Jude was late and when he went to the marketplace the coach had already left. So he had to wait for the next train to Melchester. So he went back and was able to find out Sue's present abode, that antique and dismal and depressing building. He had no mind to knock. The centuries did, indeed, ponderously overhang a young wife who passed her time here." Then an unexpected sight was revealed to him. Through the open window he saw Sue taking out a photograph and looking at it intimately. Then she was found to be pressing it against her bosom and then keeping it again in her rose-wood work-box. On his way back home Jude felt perplexed thinking whose photograph it might have been. And finally he felt sure that it was his own. Jude resolved to come back again to meet her.

Critieal Analysis
      Sue's strange behaviour - conflict in her soul: The chapter opens with a striking description of the cliff-town with its glorious past. Soon we find Jude coming to the new place and meeting Sue in her school. But from the beginning to the end Sue is behaving very strangely. In the beginning both are quite emotional. And when Jude calls her a flirt she is in tears. Then suddenly her mood changes. She asks Jude to leave at the earliest as her husband was not at home. And when he goes out, she calls him from her window and talks for long. She shows her philosophical bent when she says that she is 'not really Mrs. Richard Phillotson but a woman tossed about all alone, with aberrant passions, and unaccountable antipathies. Then comes the strange act of pressing a picture against her bosom. All this clearly reveal that a severe conflict is raging in her soul.

      Jude's passion for Sue. As regards Jude it is clear that Sue's attraction is too strong for him to stop meeting her although it was against his present aim of entering the church and his religious principles.

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