Jude The Obscure: Part 6, Chapter 8 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 6: Chapter VIII

      Synopsis: Jude is sick - his love for Sue unchanged - asks Arabella to write to her to come and see him - Arabella writes but never posts the letter - sick Jude's lone and risky adventure to meet Sue at Marygreen - they love each other deeply - but a changed Sue is not prepared to run away with him - Jude fails to convince her.

      Jude is sick - asks Arabella to write to Sue. Near about three months passed after their marriage. The remarried couple was now living on the top floor of a lodging. But during these months Jude's health deteriorated considerably. He was a sick man and coughed a good deal. He could go to his job only on a few days. Arabella was disappointed. She grumbled and told him that very soon she would have to hawk food articles to support an invalid husband. Their quarrels became an everyday affair. In such a state of health one day Jude requested Arabella to write to Sue asking her to come and see him in his sickbed. She was first exasperated at his request. But when she began to abuse Sue he jumped at her and threatened to kill her if she continued to do so. Ultimately she agreed to write to her when Jude agreed to her being in the room while Sue would be there. In the evening she told Jude that the letter had been written but still to be posted. But Sue never came and he could well understand that the letter had never been posted.

      Jude himself goes to Marygreen to meet Sue. Jude said nothing to her but resolved to go along to Sue's place. So one gloomy and rainy morning, while Arabella was out for some time, he went to the station and took the train for Alfredston. At about mid-day, Arabella was back and was shocked to find Jude missing from home. Meanwhile, he reached Alfredston and from there walked along the five-mile road to Marygreen without an umbrella on that cold and rainy day. After reaching the church he asked a boy of the school to go to Mrs Phillotson and request her to come and meet someone in the church. Soon Sue appeared and was shocked and surprised to find Jude standing there.

      Jude argues with her without success. When Jude found that Sue was not happy to find him there, he assured her that he had come to meet her for the last time. According to her, after marrying Arabella again, it was a wrong step on his part to come and meet Sue. Jude retorted that he had done the most degrading and immoral thing in his life by marrying Arabella again. Further, it had been wrong on her part too to remarry Phillotson. He still considered Sue to be his real wife. Sue angrily asked Jude not to raise such a point as she was absolutely decided regarding her marriage. Jude frankly told her that she had suffered the loss of her mental faculties. She might also be a humbug and 'indulging in the luxury of the emotion raised by an affected belief. This exasperated Sue, and she asked him to go away from her. Jude was enraged and he retorted that he would never come to see her anymore, as she was not worth a man's love.

      Sue breaks down but will not run away with Jude. After Jude's last invective, Sue broke down completely as she was unable to bear such harsh words from Jude and so she asked him to kiss her. She also told him that their marriage had just been an apparent marriage without consummation. In reply to his frank query, she had to admit that she still loved him. This mightly pleased Jude and he kissed her and Sue had to reciprocate, although with a sense of guilt. Jude then asserted that both of them had committed a blunder by remarrying their earlier spouses, so Sue should run away with him. Sue strongly refused to do so and urged him to love her at least for pity's sake. After this, he could not but leave her there and start for Alfredston to catch the train for Christminster. On his way, he bravely faced the wind and rain in spite of his weak health. And with great difficulty, he was back at Christminster at about ten o'clock in the night.

Critical Analysis
      Arabella's cold and calculating nature and Jude constant in love. In this chapter, we find that both Jude and Arabella Still have their mental setup unchanged even after their respective second marriages. Arabella is the same cold and calculating woman. When Jude falls sick, she loses all her interest in him. She very nastily and vulgarly quarrels with him. Her dream of finding a good shelter and comfort in life has been shattered. On the other hand, Jude's constant love for Sue has not undergone any change in spite of being compelled to marry Arabella and even after Sue's remarriage with Phillotson. He even has the boldness to request Arabella to write to Sue requesting her to come and see him in his sickbed. And Arabella consents to write but dupes him by not posting the letter at all. This is quite in character.

      Sue still loves Jude but is overwhelmed by a sense of guilt. We find that Jude's love for Sue remains unchanged in spite of her marriage with Phillotson once more and he rushes to Marygreen just to meet her again. During their short meeting, it becomes quite evident that Sue also loves him deeply. But the stark tragedy in her life has badly affected her faculty of reason and deprived her of all her unorthodox and revolutionary ideas. So all of Jude's reasoned arguments and fervent appeals fail to convince her to run away from Phillotson and to live with him again as his wife.

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