Jude The Obscure: Part 6, Chapter 11 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 6: Chapter XI

      Synopsis: Jude on death bed - Arabella leaves him to enjoy the festivities of the Remembrance Week-nobody to offer him water - Arabella comes back to find him dead and gone - still leaves his body to go out to view the procession of boats - meets Vilbert and allows him to embrace her-arranges his funeral two days later - Widow Edlin comes - both discuss about Sue's predicament - according to Arabella she would never find peace in her life.

      Jude on death - bed in Remembrance Week - quotes Book of Job. Winter was gone and the warm summer came round again. Jude's condition was now very serious. He had been reduced to a skeleton now. It was Remembrance Day and Arabella was getting ready to go out to enjoy the festivities of the town. She was expecting her father to come over there to look after Jude. But he did not turn up and Arabella slipped away after having a last look at the sleeping Jude. While Arabella was strolling and enjoying in the streets poor Jude woke up and in a faint voice asked for water, sometimes calling Sue, sometimes calling Arabella. From a distance, the faint notes of the organ reached his ear along with shouts and hurrahs from the people. He then remembered that the festivities of the Remembrance Day were taking place. But there was none in the room to respond to his piteous calls. Jude then began to recite very feebly lines from the Book of Job: "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived". "Why died l, not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?" All the while his recitations were punctuated by the joyful shouts of the jubilant public outside.

      Arabella comes back-aghast and angry to find Jude dead. After moving about merrily for some time she thought of going back. to have another look at Jude and to find out if her father was there. When she reached home she found a few fellow stone-workers of Jude at the door. They came to enquire about Jude and requested her to accompany them to the riverside to witness the procession of boats. She told them she would just be coming down after seeing if Jude was still sleeping. Going up she found that her father had not kept his word. She was glad to find him sleeping peacefully. But when she observed a bit carefully she found to her dismay that Jude was no more in the land of the living. Ultimately this heartless woman overcame her shock and fear, came down to accompany Jude's friends and told them that he was sleeping soundly.

      Arabella joins the crowd of merry-makers; meets Vilbert. Arabella along with the workmen soon reached the riverside. The grand procession of boats had just begun. she was quite jubilant thinking that nothing could hurt Jude then. As she was enjoying the lively scene with the crowd somebody touched her ribs and she found Vilbert standing behind. Telling her that he was under the influence of the love-philter he put his arms round her waist unobserved in the crowd. When the show was over Arabella took leave of him rather hurriedly, telling that she must be back to her poor man. But in fact, she was worried thinking that if it was known that Jude died alone there might be an inquest. So the sly lady before going to her house first went to the house of a woman who performed the last necessary offices for the poorer dead. She requested her to come to her place giving her the idea that Jude had died in her presence.

      Preparation for Jude's burial-Arabella and Mrs. Edlin talks about Sue. Two days later Jude was laid in the coffin. He was to be buried on that day. Widow Edlin came from her place to be present at the funeral. Looking at Jude she with tearful eyes uttered how beautiful Jude looked even after his death. Arabella assented saying that it was just a beautiful corpse. While Jude was lying in his coffin doctors in the theatre were conferring Honorary degrees on illustrious gentlemen. And the sound of cheers from young men came floating through the open window. Meanwhile, Arabella asked the widow if Sue was coming to attend the funeral. She was not sure as she had taken a vow not to see him again. Out of curiosity, Arabella wanted to know more about her. Mrs Edlin informed her that she was then quite a miscible and worn-out woman. It was not possible for her to stomach that man even then. The widow added that she must have at least found peace by doing her duty towards her husband. But Arabella disagreed with her and said quite firmly: "She's never found peace since she left his arm, and never will again till she's as he is now."

Critical Analysis
      Arabella's cruelty and vulgarity exposed to the extreme. This chapter also exposes the cruel and vulgar nature of Arabella to the extreme. First, she leaves her husband on the deathbed and goes out to take part in the festivities of the Remembrance Week. And then after coming back and even after finding her husband dead, she accompanies the work-men to the river-side to view the procession of boats. And this woman's heartlessness and vulgarity are revealed most glaringly when she yields to the embrace of another vulgar person, the quack doctor Vilbert.

      Plenty of irony in the chapter. Hardy has made use of plenty of ironies in this chapter to reveal the oddness and pathos of the situation. There is a deadly irony when we find how Jude's recitations from the Book of Job are punctuated by the sound of 'hurrah' from the people outside. And then it is really ironic when we find joyous throbs of a waltz are wafted into the room where Jude is lying dead in a bedstead. And then there is profound irony in the acts of conferring Honorary degrees on illustrious gentlemen, while Jude with all his thwarted ambition lies in his coffin to be carried to the burial ground.

      The tragedy in the life of three personalities. Jude the Obscure is a profoundly tragic tale that powerfully depicts the pathos and tragedy in the lives of three personalities Jude, Sue and Phillotson - in different degrees. Jude is a victim of double disappointment. First, he is thwarted in his ambition to become a scholar at Oxford. And then he is absolutely frustrated in his great love for Sue. And these were unbearable for him and so we find him dying such a premature death. The tragedy in Sue's life is most miserable and poignant. she first blundered by hastily marrying Phillotson. And she did the right thing by leaving him to live with Jude for whom she cherished the deepest love and regard. She was never wrong in her revolutionary and unorthodox ideas. But they could not overcome the resistance they met with from the general body of the society. And the saddest thing for her was the melancholy wreck of her brilliant intellect after the tragic demise of the three children. This brings about her mental volte-face that ultimately led her to desert Jude to remarry Phillotson. And finally, she surrenders herself physically to Phillotson as a matter of penance and thus to live the life of a living corpse forever. Although, to a lesser degree there is a tragedy in the life of Phillotson too: he undoubtedly gets back Sue as his wife and gets her body too in the bargain, but he can never expect to have her mind and soul which would never away from Jude, dead or alive.

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