Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 6: Chapters 6-7

Summary

In Christminster Arabella comes to Jude's lodgings, saying she has nowhere to go and asking him to take her in. Eventually he does give her a place to sleep, and when she asks him if he knows of the wedding, he is irritable about the subject. Another day, she offers to find out if the wedding actually took place when she goes to Alfredston. Upon her return she tells Jude that Sue and Phillotson are married, that Sue burned her good nightgown to forget Jude, that Sue thought Phillotson her only husband, and that she feels that way with respect to Jude. While Jude goes to a tavern to drink, Arabella arranges with her father, now living in the city, to bring Jude there that night. Finding Jude, Arabella encourages him in his drinking and later guides him to her father's house, Jude drunk enough not to be sure where he is.

The next day Arabella arranges with her father to keep Jude in the house until she can get him to marry her, one means of which is a sufficient supply of liquor. She brings his things from his lodgings so he can have no reason to go back there, and has her father give a party to entertain Jude and, supposedly, to advertise his pork shop. After the party, which includes some of Jude's former drinking companions, has been going on a long time, Arabella says it's time for Jude to carry out his promise to marry her; and when Jude says he doesn't remember any promise her father questions his honor. Saying he has never acted dishonorably to anyone, Jude goes off with Arabella and her father to be married. Upon their return Arabella triumphantly describes the wedding, and Jude says he has acted honorably and also done what Sue suggested.

Analysis

Both Jude and Sue have remarried; they have conformed. But the scenes depicting both ceremonies make clear that they are honoring the letter and not the spirit of the institution. As Jude says later, when they remarried he was "gin-drunk" and she was "creed-drunk." Or as he bitterly says here about his remarrying of Arabella, "It is true religion!"

The ceremonies are rather similar. They are held at a time when no one will pay much attention to what is going on. In each case, the officiating clergyman congratulates the couple on having done the right thing and says they ought to be forgiven now.

The marital relationships have come full circle now. Jude and Sue are back with the partners they began with, but for each it is a defeat.

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