Jude The Obscure: Part 4, Chapter 6 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 4: Chapter VI

      Synopsis; Phillotson's refusal to resign - dismissed - the public meeting and the uproar - his illness - Gillingham writes to Sue - She comes to see him but refuses to go back to him; Phillotson ready to forgive Sue leaves - Phillotson expresses his decision to divorce Sue for the sake of her happiness.

      Phillotson's dismissal and the uproar in the meeting; falls ill. Inhabitants of Shaston had sincere regard for Mr. Phillotson and for some time they could not guess that Sue had left her husband for good. But when she did not come back after the lapse of a fairly long period they began to suspect that his wife had played false with him and run away with her lover. So on a Monday morning the Chairman of the school committee called him and asked him if it was a fact that his wife had really eloped with her lover. He frankly told him that she had asked him to let her go away with her lover and he had allowed her to do so. He did not want to be her gaoler though she was legally married to him. Then Phillotson's maidservant also corroborated it. Soon he was asked to meet the managers of the school secretly and they asked him to resign. They considered his conduct to be Scandalous for condoning his wife's adultery. When he was back home he found Gillingham waiting for him. He told him what had happened adding that he was not going to resign. But his worldly-wise friend advised him not to create a fuss as it might affect his career. He was adamant. But just after fifteen minutes the letter of dismissal came to him. He replied that he was not going to accept it and called a public meeting. In the meeting also he fared badly as most of the people supported the decision of the managing committee. Only a few supported him and they created a pandemonium. A scuffle ensued causing injury to some persons. Phillotson was extremely shocked and regretted not having submitted his resignation before. After this sad event he was so much disheartened that he fell-ill the very next morning.

      Sue comes to see Phillotson - his offer to her. Meanwhile Gillingham was often coming to see Phillotson in his illness. And without his knowledge he wrote a letter to Sue informing her about Phillotson's sickness. Just three days later Sue came to Shaston and told him that she came. to see him as she heard that he was seriously ill. She did not know what trouble he had had to face for letting her go in that way. After talking for some time upon slight subjects Phillotson frankly asked Sue if she would like to come back to him. In that case he would forgive her and condone everything. But to Sue it seemed absolutely impossible after all that had happened. She also informed him that Jude was going to obtain a divorce from his wife, Arabella, as it was a bad marriage. She left just after dusk as she had come there without Jude's knowledge.

      Phillotson thinks of divorcing Sue. Mr. Gillingham was then coming to see his sick friend twice or thrice a week. Next time when he came Phillotson told him about Sue's visit. Gillingham asked his friend if they had made it up. But Phillotson said that Sue now absolutely belonged to another man. She had refused to stay with him although he was prepared to condone everything. He felt that there was no use keeping her chained to him and so he must dissolve the legal tie with her, as this would open a chance of happiness for her enabling her to marry the man of her liking.

Critical Analysis
      Generosity and strength of character of Phillotson. This chapter also reveals the better side of Phillotson's character. He displays rare courage by refusing to resign and then calling a public meeting to explain himself before all. He knew that all this was detrimental to his future career. Further it is an expression of nobility when he tells Sue that he was prepared to condone everything if she would like to come back to him. Finally he reveals rare magnanimity when he decides to dissolve their legal tie to enable Sue to marry her lover and to lead a happy life.

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