Jude The Obscure: Part 4, Chapter 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 4: Chapter II

      Synopsis: Jude's great aunt passes away - Jude writes to Sue - she attends the funeral - stays for the night there - frank confession about her unhappy married life - Sue breaks down and Jude consoles - Sue's idea about such marriages - Sue finally expresses her deep love for Jude - both pass sleepless night - the rabbit caught in the gin; Jude kills it to end its misery - the midnight kiss by Sue.

      Jude's great aunt expires - her funeral. Back from Shaston Jude had a letter from Sue asking him not to come next week and Jude agreed. On Easter Monday morning there came a note from Widow Edlin informing him about the very serious condition of his aunt. Jude rushed to Marygreen, but she expired before his arrival. After making all arrangements for the funeral during the day, he wrote to Sue informing about their aunt's death adding that the funeral was going to take place on Friday afternoon. She did not send any reply. But Jude felt that she must be coming to attend the funeral. So on the day of the funeral expecting her to come by the only possible train Jude went up to Brown House to receive her on the way. Jude met her there and they immediately moved towards home. The sad and simple ceremony was over in a short while. Both of them went side by side to the grave and after coming back sat down to tea in the old familiar house.

      Sue's confession about her unhappy married life. They started talking intimately over their cup of tea. It was Sue who first mentioned that their old aunt was opposed to marriage throughout her life specially for the members of their family. Sue added that in fact they made bad husband's and wives. Then she asked what he would say if a woman in spite of all her respect and gratefulness could not stand living with her husband 'merely because she had a personal feeling against it - a physical objection - a fastidiousness, or whatever it may be called... But when Jude quite sadly said that she was not happy, she would not admit it. Then she said that she was to go back by the six o' clock train. But Jude said that as there was no direct train that night, she might stay overnight and leave in the morning. She might stay at Mrs. Edlin's place.

      Sue breaks down - Jude consoles-tells about Arabella. Jude and Sue were again talking intimately. Jude now frankly told her that she ought not to have married Mr. Phillotson and regretted not having prevented it in time. Jude put his hand upon hers, but Sue drew hers away. But then she regretted her prudishness and allowed him to hold it. Jude assured her that henceforth he would ever remain her cousin and nothing more. And then to a shocked Sue he disclosed his meeting with Arabella at Christminster and all that happened. Now he would have to live with her husband, i.e. without love. Finally Sue had to be absolutely frank with him. She confessed that she could not love Mr. Phillotson, but "I did not like him - it is a torture to me to live with him as a husband!" Then she completely broke down, put her face into her hands and sobbed silently. Jude was so moved that he tried to console her by putting his face against hers. He very painfully realised that he could do very little for her due to his marriage with Arabella. He could simply utter: You would have been my wife, Sue, wouldn't you, if it hadn't been for that?" Sue could not stand it any more. She left him abruptly saying that she was going to walk towards her aunt's grave.

      A sleepless night for both - midnight meeting - From the grave she went straight to Mrs. Edlin's place for her rest and sleep. Jude also retired early. But he could not sleep thinking about lonely and disheartened Sue. And then when he fell asleep at about two o' clock he was suddenly aroused by the mournful cry of a rabbit caught in a gin. He knew it would suffer torture for the whole of the night. So he just went to that place and put an end to all its sufferings with one blow on its neck. While coming back he stopped when he heard Sue's voice calling him from the window of the adjacent house. She told that she was unable to sleep at all and she had also heard the painful shriek of that timid animal. Jude was standing below the window. She regretted that she had disturbed his religious doctrines and troubled his mind by telling him about the complications in her married life. Jude retorted he had already begun to part company with his old ideas and doctrines. He just kissed her hand and told her that his only aim was to help her by any means and to see her happy, whatever might happen to him. Sue felt she could never be happy by marrying without realising its full significance. "It was idiotic of me-there is no excuse". Then in a moment of impulse she imprinted a soft little kiss on his head and bade him good-bye with tears in her eyes.

Critical Analysis
      Sue's complicated married life and Jude and Sue's mutual love. This chapter reveals how unhappy Sue was in her married life and what a blunder she had committed by marrying Mr. Phillotson so hastily without realising the significance of marriage. She also gives her Views about such marriages: "I am certain one ought to be allowed to undo what one has done so gnorantly!" We also find Sue throwing off all her prudery and double-dealing and expressing her deep and passionate love for Jude when she allows Jude to clasp her hand and prints a tearful kiss on his head.

      Attitude towards animals. The other thing to be noted is that there is truly a deep bond between these two star-crossed lovers. Sue was also equally sympathetic towards animals and like Jude she also could not sleep after hearing the shrieks of that rabbit caught in a steel trap.

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