Jude The Obscure: Part 5, Chapter 1 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 5: Chapter I

      Synopsis: Jude and Sue living together, but no sexual relationship - their marriage annulled at last - Sue afraid of marrying - the iron contract may destroy real love - go on living like lovers - Sue helping Jude in his work and keeping home.

      The marriages of the two couples dissolved: After the lapse of a few months after the meeting between Sue and Phillotson at Sbaston, Jude and Sue were living together under the same roof at Aldbrickham. She kept house and managed everything, but still she avoided establishing any sexual relationship with Jude. Meanwhile the two divorce cases - that of Jude and Arabella and of Phillotson and Sue - were decided and both the marriages were annulled. Jude's case was decided a month before. One fine morning Sue also received a letter informing her about the final decision of the court. Jude was very happy to learn of it and told her that she was now absolutely free to do what she liked. But Sue had some pricks of conscience. According to her, their marriage would not have been annulled, if they knew the truth of their relationship. Finally Jude put an end to such discussion saying that their marriage had already been dissolved so there was no point in bothering about it any more.

      Out for a walk - Sue still afraid of marrying Jude. Both of them were now happy as they were now free from all legal complications. Jude suggested that they should go out for a walk arm-in-arm. They went out of the town for a quiet walk. Soon Jude pointed out that there was no hindrance now for them to get married. But still Sue was hesitant and reluctant to be bound up by marriage. Her apprehension was that an iron contract might extinguish his tenderness for her and hers for Jude, as it had between their unfortunate parents. She still wanted to go on living as lovers, as they were living then. She felt - "it is foreign to a man's nature to go on loving a person when he is told that he must and shall be that person's lover". With all his counter-arguments Jude failed to convince her. Finally Jude had to submit to her wishes as he was used to do.

      Living like lovers and helping each other. So Jude and Sue continued to live as friends as before. He called himself a 'Monumental Mason', as he was then engaged in working and lettering headstones. Sue still managed all domestic affairs and also helped him in his job by marking out the letters full size for him. There his only patrons were the poor people who employed him for the simple memorials they required for their dead.

Critical Analysis
      Typical traits of Sue's character. The first thing to be noted in this chapter is that the story moves ahead with the annulment of the two marriages. But the most important thing is that the chapter reveals the typical and eccentric traits of Sue's character. She loves Jude so sincerely, she relies on Jude completely still she is afraid and reluctant to either marry him or establish any sexual relationship with him. That is why Jude had to remark: "But you, Sue, are such a phantasmal, bodiless creature, one who - if you'll allow me to say it - had so little animal passion in you, that you can act upon reason in the matter, when we poor unfortunate wretches for grosser substance can't." Another of Jude's grievances is that she is as slippery as an eel when he wants to get a confession from her regarding her love for him. Poor Jude is so much in love with her that he cannot but submit to her whims and eccentricities.

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