Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 9

Summary

Two months later, Arabella tells Jude she is pregnant, and though he has said it is time for him to leave for Christminster he promises to marry her, speaking of his aspirations as impossible dreams. They marry and go to live in a cottage alongside the road between the Brown House and Marygreen. Jude quickly discovers several things about his wife: that she wears false hair, that she was once a barmaid, that the dimples in her cheeks are artificially produced. After admitting to one of her friends that she isn't pregnant at all, Arabella is apprehensive about telling Jude. When she does, he sees how unnecessary the marriage is; Arabella is complacent in her legal status. He wonders to himself about the justice of a society that causes an individual to have to forego his highest aspirations.

Analysis

When Jude finds out that Arabella is not pregnant, some very disturbing thoughts pass through his mind: "He was inclined to inquire what he had done, or she lost, for that matter, that he deserved to be caught in a gin which would cripple him, if not her also, for the rest of a lifetime?" Later, of course, he discovers that she deliberately enticed him to make love to her so that she could claim to be pregnant. Hardy already has had Jude as a boy wonder what it is that noisily seems to warp one's life.

What comes out here, as elsewhere, is part of Hardy's theme in the novel: Jude's beliefs, conventionally Christian as they are, cannot account for what is happening to him. Something blind or malign is operating to undermine his dream. In short, the old explanations do not seem to account for life. By the end of the novel Jude will be shown in a self-admitted "chaos of principles." Here, he is just becoming aware of the disparity between what he has been taught to believe and what the circumstances of his life confront him with.

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