Summary and Analysis
Part 3: Chapters 1-2
Jude believes that his original plan may have come more from ambition than a desire to serve and that his entering the church as a licentiate will enable him both to do good and to purge himself of sin. He does nothing about his new idea until he hears from Sue that she is going to Melchester to a training college, and he decides to go there, work and study, and eventually enter the theological college. He will be near Sue, whom he will learn to love as a friend, and will be realizing his new plan. Upon an urgent letter from Sue, now at Melchester and lonely and sorry that she let Phillotson persuade her to come, Jude leaves Marygreen for Melchester.
When Jude calls on Sue at the college, he finds her changed in appearance and manner but not in any other way. Determined finally to tell her of his marriage to Arabella, Jude is equally determined to discover the nature of her relationship to Phillotson. After talking about everything else, Sue finally tells Jude she has promised to marry Phillotson at the end of her two years of training. Jude is upset but resolute in his desire to keep seeing her no matter what, certain that his late night visit to her at Lumsdon precipitated her engagement. Jude finds work and lodgings and sets out on his theological study.
During an afternoon together, Jude and Sue visit an old castle, an example of Corinthian rather than Gothic architecture, at Sue's insistence. And they look at the paintings there, Jude preferring religious pictures, Sue secular. At Jude's suggestion they go for a long walk, planning to take a different train back to Melchester; but they discover too late they will not be able to make it. Forced to stay overnight with a shepherd, they disagree over Sue's remark that she likes such a rustic life, Jude insisting she is really a city person. They return the next day, and of course Sue has overstayed her leave. Before she leaves him at the college she gives him a new photograph of herself.
It is both thematically and dramatically appropriate that after Jude's failure at Christminster he should discover upon meeting Sue again that she is engaged to Phillotson. Failure follows hard upon failure, and Jude's realization that his running to Sue in despair over his having to give up his Christminster dream hastened the engagement makes it no less easy to take. When by chance he is put in the position of staying out overnight with her, he is further reminded that he cannot have what he wants. In short, Hardy is using the scenes here to trace the early stages of Jude's defeat, the frustration of whatever hopes he has.