Jude The Obscure: by Thomas Hardy - Summary

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      Eleven year-old orphan Jude desirous of knowledge. In the nineteenth century eleven-year old Jude Fawley said goodbye to his schoolmaster, Richard Phillotson, who was leaving the small English village of Mary green for Christminster, to study for a degree. Young Jude, hungry for learning, yearned to go to Christminster too, but he had to help his greatgrandaunt, Drusilla Fawley, in her bakery. At Christminster, Phillotson did not forget his former pupil. He sent Jude some classical grammars which the boy studied eagerly.

      Apprentice to a stonemason; tricked into marriage. Anticipating a career as a religious scholar, Jude apprenticed himself; at nineteen, to a stonemason engaged in the restoration of medieval churches in a nearby town. Returning to Marygreen one evening, he met three young girls who were washing pigs’ chitterlings by a stream bank. One of the girls, Arabella Donn, caught Jude's fancy and he arranged to meet her later. The young man was swept off his feet and tricked into marriage, but he soon realized that he had married a vulgar country girl with whom he had nothing in common. Embittered, he tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide; when he began to drink, Arabella left him.

      Disappointed in love and ambition. Jude, now free, decided to carry out his original purpose. With this idea in mind, he went to Christminster, where he took work as a stonemason. He had heard that his cousin, Sue Bridehead, lived in Christminster, but he did not seek her out because his aunt had warned him against her and because he was already a married man. Eventually he met her and was charmed. She was an artist employed in an ecclesiastical warehouse. Jude met Phillotson, again a simple schoolteacher. Sue at Jude's suggestion, become Phillotson's assistant. The teacher soon lost his heart to his bright and intellectually independent young helper. Jude was hurt by evidence of intimacy between the two. Disappointed in love and ambition he turned to drink and was dismissed by his employer. He went back to Mary green.

      Sue’s marriage and misery thereafter. At Mary green Jude was persuaded by a minister to enter the church as a licentiate. Sue meanwhile, had won a scholarship to a teacher's college at Melchester; she wrote Jude asking him to come to see her. Jude worked at stonemasonry in Melchester in order to be near Sue, even though she told him she had promised to marry Phillotson after her schooling. Dismissed from the college after an innocent escapade with Jude, Sue influenced him away from the church with her unorthodox beliefs. Shortly afterward she married Phillotson. Jude, despondent, returned to Christminster, where he came upon Arabella working in a bar. Jude heard that Sue’s married life was unbearable. He continued his studies for the ministry and thought a great deal about Sue.

      Sue divorced by Phillotson, and Jude by Arabella. Sucoumbing completely to his passion for Sue, Jude at last forsook the ministry. His Aunt Drusilla died, and at the funeral Jude and Sue realized that they could not remain separated. Phillotson, sympathizing with the lovers released Sue, who now lived apart from her husband. The lovers went to Aidbrickham, a large city where they would not be recognised. Phillotson gave Sue a divorce and subsequently lost his teaching position. Jude gave Arabella a divorce so that she might marry again.

      Jude and Sue live together out of wedlock. Sue and Jude now contemplated marriage, but they were unwilling to be joined by a church ceremony because of Sue's dislike for any binding contract. The pair lived together happily, Jude doing simple stonework. One day Arabella appeared and told that she would marry him. Arabella's problem was solved by eventual marriage, but out of fear of her husband she sent her young child by Jude to live with him and Sue. This pathetic boy, nicknamed Little Father Time, joined the unconventional Fawley household.

      Wandering life, Father Time and two other children. Jude's business began to decline, and he lost a contract to restore a rural church when the vestry discovered that he and Sue were unmarried. Forced to move on, they travelled from place to place and from job to job. At the end of two and a half years of this itinerant life the pair had two children of their own and a third on the way. They were five, including Little Father Time. Jude, in failing health, became a baker and Sue sold cakes in the shape of Gothic ornaments at a fair in a village near Christminster. At the fair Sue met Arabella, now a widow. Arabella reported Sue's poverty to Phillotson, who was once more the village teacher in Marygreen.

      Catastrophe in the death of the children. Jude took his family to Christminster, where the celebration for Remembrance Week was under way. Utterly defeated by failure, Jude still had a love for the atmosphere of learning which pervaded the city.

      The family had difficulty finding lodgings and they were forced to separate. Sue's landlady, learning that Sue was an unmarried mother and fearful lest she should have the trouble of childbirth in her rooming-house, told Sue to find other lodgings. Bitter, Sue told Little Father Time that children should not be brought into the world. When she returned from a meal with Jude, she found that the boy had hanged the two babies and himself. She collapsed and gave premature birth to a dead baby.

      Sue’s unhappy married life and death of Jude. Her experience brought about a change in Sue’s point of view. Believing she had sinned and wishing now to conform, she asked Jude to live apart from her. She also expressed the desire to return to Phillotson, whom she believed, in her misery, to be still her husband. She returned to Phillotson and the two remarried. Jude, utterly lost, began drinking heavily. In a darken stupor, he Was again tricked by Arabella into marriage, His lungs failed; it was evident that his end was near Arabella would not communicate with Sue, whom Jude desired to see once more, and so Jude travelled in the rain to see her. The lovers had a last meeting. She then made complete atonement for her Past mistakes by becoming Phillotson's wife completely. This development was reported to Jude, who died in desperate misery of mind and body. Fate had grown tired of its sport with a luckless man.

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