Jude The Obscure: Part 5, Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 5: Chapter VIII

      Synopsis: Arabella the six-week old widow fails to turn her mind towards religion wants to have Jude back-chance meeting with Phillotson on the way back to Alfredston rebukes him for his generosity towards Sue-back home from the fair Sue tells Jude about meeting Arabella-Jude finally decides to settle at Christminster for the rest of his life.

      The six-week old widow, Arabella, once more desires to have Jude back. Arabella duly attended the foundation-stone laying ceremony and two hours later she, along with her friend Anny, started on their return journey to Alfredston. She was now residing there. Soon she began to tell Anny how her mind was disturbed and upset after meeting Sue in the fair and after hearing about Jude though she had told Sue about her resigned frame of mind. In spite of all her attempts to turn her mind towards religion, she was unable to turn her mind away from Jude. Anny advised her not to be carried away be such ideas so soon after husband's death, but it had no effect on Arabella. In fact when their light trap was passing by the lonely house where she had lived with Jude after their marriage, she was much moved and excited. She strangely felt that Sue had no right to Jude and she must take him from her if possible. Anny tried her best to console Arabela. She calmed down slowly. And then when they began to descend the hill after crossing the ridge they found a lonely elderly person with a basket in his hand moving down the same path. They offered him a lift which he accepted.

       Accidental meeting with Mr. Phillotson - rebukes him for his generosity to Sue. When the elderly person was seated in their carriage, Arabella to her great surprise recognised him to be Mr. Phillotson. Arabella introduced herself as his pupil at Marygreen in her childhood, but he could not remember her. Sue told him about her marriage with Jude and her separation from him. Then she curtly and frankly told him it was wrong and a mistake too on his part to divorce Sue. It was a mistake as Sue was innocent and so the ground of adultery on which separation was granted was wrong. The news saddened his heart. Arabella then told him that he ought to have been very strict with Sue and tamed her by any means. Mr. Phillotson then told her how he had to suffer in life for his generosity and how he had been compelled to accept such a lowly-paid job in Marygreen again. Soon he took leave of her and he was dropped at his destination.

      Sue back home-tells Jude about Arabella. After their remarkable success in cake-selling at the fair, Sue was back home with the child. Mrs. Edlin, who came to help them during Jude's illness, met them on the way with Sue's two young children. Jude was recovering from his illness and was quite happy to learn about the success of their new venture. But he was shocked and surprised to know that the widowed Arabella had met her at the fair and was then living at Alfredston, quite close to their place.

      Jude's final decision to settle at Christminster. They were already contemplating leaving the place soon. Now after hearing about Arabella's presence in a nearby place Jude wanted to hasten the departure. They were still to decide about the next place. But now Jude frankly told Sue that he wanted to go back to Christminster again though they were quite known there. When Sue asked why he should still care for that place which cared nothing for him, Jude's answer was that he could never shake off the spell that city had on him. He wanted to go back and live there the rest of his life. And so in three weeks Jude along with Sue and the children arrived at the city of his dreams.

Critical Analysis
      Arabella's character. This chapter also throws considerable light on Arabella's character. This complete and substantial female animal's attempt to turn her mind to religion after her husband's death is futile and transitory. After hearing about Jude from Sue she is thinking of getting back Jude. Anny's reproof and friendly advice falls on deaf ears. Then her talk with poor Phillotson reveals that she has already Started scheming to capture her first husband once more.

      Same old Jude. We also find that Jude has changed very little in spite of all the rude shocks and knocks of his life. He was moving from place to place to avoid known people. And now after his severe illness he finally decides to go back to Christminster, the city of his early dreams, although he got nothing but discouragement and disappointment there. He wants to live there and also die there. We feel that he has some sort of premonition about his death.

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