Jude The Obscure: Part 6, Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 6: Chapter IX

      Synopsis: Jude back - Arabella's rebukes and Jude's explanations - he wants to die after seeing Sue - Sue repentant after allowing Jude to kiss her - first confesses to Mrs Edlin - to surrender to her husband as an act of penance ignores her advice - confesses to her husband - her swearing on New Testament - surrenders bodily in spite of all her aversion.

      Arabella's rebukes and Jude's explanations - the phantoms of the great. When Jude detrained at Christminster he found Arabella waiting for him there. She rightly guessed about his destination. On their way back Arabella rebuked him by saying that by taking up this misadventure he had ruined his health completely. Jude retorted he had done it knowingly. He had only two desires left in life-first to see Sue and then to die. He had seen Sue and now he was prepared to die. When they were passing by the silent colleges, Jude began to see the phantoms of the great men of the past such as Walter Raleigh, Burton, Arnold, Shelley and others, Just as he had seen them when he came to this place for the first time in his youth. But now they seemed to be laughing at him. When he told about them to Arabella, she retorted that she neither wanted to hear about them nor liked to know their names.

      Repentant Sue thinking of doing a penance. That very rainy night Sue was suffering from pangs of remorse for having allowed Jude to kiss her and then for having returned his kisses. As the first step to punish herself she engaged herself arduously in her domestic work. Mrs Edlin used to come very night to help her in her domestic duties before going to bed. That day she came and was surprised to find her working so hard. When she asked Sue what seemed to be wrong with her she confessed to her what had happened in the evening, adding that she was much upset to find that she still loved Jude. And then she said that she would never see him again and had made up her mind to do some penance - that is to surrender herself without any reserve to her husband although he had agreed to her living as she chose. Mrs Edlin asked her to consider it quietly and not to do any such thing in a hurry and force her nature in that way. But Sue replied that she must drink her cup to the dregs. She then requested the widow to stay in their house that night.

      Sue's bodily surrender to her legal husband at last. Sue then put on her dressing gown and approached Phillotson's room. She stood at his door and when she did not hear his snoring for some time she was much frightened thinking that he was dead. She rushed back to Mrs Edlin and told her about it adding that if he was really dead then she would be able to go back to Jude. And then she remembered that it was impossible as there was Arabella. They went to his door for the second time and heard him snoring. Mrs Edlin left and Sue called Mr Phillotson by name to wake him up. When he came to her she desperately asked him to take her into him. She then confessed everything that had happened in the evening. But Phillotson was a wiser man now. He first asked her if she had really made up her mind and then go her to swear on the New Testament that she would never meet Jude again. After this, he lifted her bodily and kissed her. "A quick look of aversion passed over her face, but clenching her teeth she uttered no cry". Thus took place the tragic consummation of a marriage between two most dissimilar souls.

Critical Analysis
      Conflict in Sue's soul - her surrender, an act of penance. This chapter is quite important as it reveals the tragic end to Sue's struggles against the unreasonable and superstitious customs and usages of society. She is already a changed woman for having given up all her revolutionary ideas to become orthodox and conventional. And then by allowing Jude to kiss her and by returning his kisses, she became much repentant. A conflict ensues in her soul. And to soothe her conscience she resolves to do the ultimate thing - to surrender herself bodily to her legal husband. Even before surrendering she thinks of returning to Jude when she mistakes Phillotson to be dead. Finally, she confesses everything and gives herself up to her husband. But the tragedy of the situation is that it is not a surrender out of love, but an act of foolish penance on Sue's part.

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