Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 4: Chapter 5

Summary

Jude meets Sue at Melchester and they go on to Aldbrickham. He tells her Arabella has written to ask him to divorce her so she can remarry her Australian husband; Jude is therefore free. When he tells Sue he has reserved a room for them at a hotel, she protests she can't be intimate with him yet and tries to defend herself by saying she hasn't the courage of her convictions. Angry, Jude says she is incapable of "real love," but she replies that she has trusted Jude "to set [her] wishes above [his] gratification." When Jude says that in spite of her views she is as conventional as anyone, she mentions again a woman's love of being loved and the way this can lead her into unfortunate situations. Needing to find a different hotel, Jude unwittingly takes her to the inn where he spent the night with Arabella, and Sue finds this out from a maid. Though Sue was then supposedly happy with Phillotson and Jude legally married to Arabella, Sue is angry, and Jude complains that she expects too much of him. She is pacified only when she learns that at the time he didn't know Arabella was married to another man. She asks him to repeat some lines from Shelley to flatter her, but when he can't recall them she does so herself.

Analysis

When Sue meets Jude and they go off to Aldbrickham, coincidence puts them in the same inn as the one in which he and Arabella spent a night after Sue's marriage. Even the room Sue has is the same one Jude and Arabella used. Again, it suits Hardy's purposes to have the relationship between Jude and Arabella in the background of this first night after Sue has left Phillotson to come to Jude. But the manipulation of the plot to put the two in this particular place is a little too obvious.

Jude and Sue take separate rooms at the inn, and there is a symbolism of separate rooms running throughout the novel. Sue and her undergraduate live together in London but in separate rooms. When Jude and Sue are on an outing during the time she is in the training college in Melchester, they sleep separately at the shepherd's cottage when they must stay away overnight, though the shepherd first takes them for a married couple. Before Sue comes to Jude, she manifests her repugnance toward Phillotson by insisting they sleep in separate rooms. It is significant, indeed, that now that Sue has fled from her husband she requires of Jude that he sleep apart from her. She tries to justify this demand by arguments that she has used before, and Jude complains as before that she is incapable of "real love." After a year of living together, they will still be found in separate rooms.

In the present scene this symbolic separation is set against the memory of Jude's having shared the room with Arabella. Sue shows that this memory strikes her forcefully and, in a way, is a kind of pressure on her to allow the intimacy Jude wants. Arabella's actual presence later in the novel does, of course, force her to yield to him.

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