Jude The Obscure: Part 6, Chapter 5 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 6: Chapter V

      Synopsis: Sue at Marygreen for her remarriage - welcomed by Phillotson - appeals to him to take her back - Mrs. Edlin advises her not to marry as she still loves Jude the burning of nightgown - she is adamant - Phillotson also disregards Mrs. Edlin's advice - remarriage takes place - Sue's self sacrifice at the altar of religion.

      Sue comes to Marygreen to get remarried. After a few days, on another foggy morning. Sue left Christminster for Marygreen plunging Jude in unconsolable grief. She asked Phillotson not to come to the station and reached his place alone in the evening. She was heartily welcomed. When Sue in pitiable words told him that the death of her sin-begotten children was the first stage of her purification and asked him if he would really take her back, he was so much moved that he kissed her. But it saddened him to find that she still shrank from physical contact with him. Sue, of course, tried to explain it away by mentioning some other reasons. And she was keen on getting married quickly. It was decided to get it done early next morning. But she was frightened at the sight of the license of marriage.

      Sue at Mrs. Edlin's place-burning of the nightgown. After supper Sue left for her night's lodging at Mrs. Edlin's place. After unpacking the lady offered a tastefully decorated nightgown for her use. At the very sight of it Sue got very much excited, called it adulterous as she had purchased it to please Jude. Then she tore it to pieces and threw them into the fire. She wanted to forget her past life with Jude. When the widow scolded her, Sue flung herself upon the bed and sobbed piteously. The old and experienced lady could guess the situation correctly. She told her that she still loved Jude and firmly advised her not to get remarried to her first husband. Her only argument was that Richard was ready to have her back and so she was bound to go back to him.

      Phillotson also disregards Mrs. Edlin's advice - remarries Sue. After the nightgown episode Mrs. Edlin went straight to Phillotson's place. She frankly told him that she had come just to persuade him not to marry Sue. She had had three children by Jude and they still loved each other dearly He seemed to be offended and rather stiffly told her that it was Sue's wish and he was also willing. An exasperated Mrs. Edlin left him after telling him that she was never going to attend such a marriage ceremony. Phillotso became a bit shaky and hesitant after this, but his worldly-wise friend asked him to be firm and adamant. So, the next morning Phillotson fetched sue from Widow Edlin's house to take her to the church. And there: "The holy ordinance was resolemnised forthwith". Back home after the ceremony Phillotson was good enough to tell Sue that he would never intrude upon her personal privacy any more than he did before.

Critical Analysis
      Sue's volte-face complete - a bundle of nerves. This chapter also clearly reveals that the shocking tragedy of her life has absolutely destroyed Sue's reasoning faculty. She finally leaves Jude and comes to her first husband to get remarried. She tells Phillotson that her children were sin-begotten and their death had been necessary to bring her to the right path. Then the burning of the embroidered nightgown to forget everything about Jude shows that she has been reduced to a bundle of nerves and reveal that she was still deeply in love with him. Finally disregarding widow Edlin's just advice she sacrifices herself on the altar of her so-called religious principles.

      Phillotson and Gillingham. Phillotson's assessment of Sue's character is quite correct when he says: "Though so elusive, hers is such an honest nature at bottom that I don't think she has ever done anything against her conscience." But he has become a bit wiser after his awful suffering at the hands of the so-called religious people. But Gilingham is the same absolutely worldly-wise fellow. When Phillotson is a bit hesitant he firmly advises him not to back out in any case.

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