Phillotson's interest in Sue quickly becomes more than that of a master in a new teacher. Though he is impressed by her ability as a teacher, he is also attracted to her as a person. On the occasion of their taking the pupils to Christminster to see a model of Jerusalem, Sue questions the authenticity of the reproduction and remarks, to Phillotson's surprise, that Jerusalem was certainly not first-rate by comparison with other ancient cities. They encounter Jude at the exhibition, and when Phillotson mentions Sue's criticizing the model Jude says he understands what she means.
A few days later a school inspector visits the school to observe Sue at work, and she is so upset that Phillotson has to look after her, assuring her with more than professional interest that she is the best teacher he's ever had. When Jude comes to visit them at Lumsdon, at their request, he observes their coming out of the vicarage together and Sue's not objecting to Phillotson's putting his arm around her waist. Jude returns to the city without calling on them, appalled at what he has been responsible for.
Not only is the reader aware of the irony of Jude's introducing Sue to Phillotson, but Jude himself realizes it. He has gone out of his way to get Sue a job under Phillotson for entirely selfish reasons: he does not want her to leave Christminster, or the area close by. He wants to keep her near him. But when he goes to Lumsdon to visit her and sees Sue allow Phillotson to put his arm around her waist, he realizes that he has been the means by which the two are put into daily contact.
In the many ironies which occur in the novel, sometimes only the reader is aware of the disparity between what is intended and what happens. At other times, however, the characters themselves also recognize this difference, invariably, of course, when it is too late to change anything. They, therefore, are made to suffer doubly.