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JUDE THE OBSCURE - PLOT ANALSYIS
Jude and Arabella have been fattening a pig all autumn, and it is now time for the killing. When Challow, the professional pig killer, is late, Jude is forced to kill the pig himself although he finds the job distasteful. Ignoring Arabella's instructions to let it bleed slowly, he kill the animal quickly and mercifully. The butcher arrives just as the pig is killed. That evening, returning home, Jude overhears Arabella's friends discussing how Arabella had tricked Jude with the pretended pregnancy and how they put her up to it. When Jude confronts Arabella, she is defiant and claims it is a woman's right to get her man by any means. Jude disagrees with her, arguing that to trap a man into such a marriage can have serious consequences, especially when it is unsuitable to both of them.
The scene of the killing of the pig was criticized by Hardy's contemporaries as being too violent and disgusting in its details. But apart from employing realism, Hardy is using this scene to underline the growing incompatibility between Jude and Arabella. Jude is horrified at the violence of the slaughter and cannot bear to prolong the pig's agony. Arabella scoffs at him for being a "tender hearted fool." To her, the killing is a reality of rural life: "Pigs must be killed" and "poor folks must live." The growing gulf between them will result in the end of their marriage. The scene also points out the significant differences in their characters. Jude's basic consideration for living creatures resurfaces in this scene.
Arabella's reaction to Jude's accusation of her having trapped him is also revealing. She is quite unashamed at having lied to her prospective husband.
The next day Jude and Arabella have an argument. She deliberately dirties and throws his books until Jude physically restrains her. She goes outside and exaggerates Jude's ill treatment of her. She accuses Jude of being just like his father and his aunt with regard to marriage. Later, Jude asks his Aunt Drusilla about his parents, and she confirms the story of his parents' unhappy marriage and separation and his mother's subsequent suicide. His father's sister, too, separated from her husband. Aunt Drusilla repeats that the Fawleys were not made for marriage. Jude returns home and on the way attempts to drown himself in a pond, but the ice is too thick. He then tries to forget his sorrows by drinking. Returning home, he finds that Arabella has left him. She writes a few days later to say that she is immigrating with her parents to Australia. Jude agrees to her plan.
Jude goes to the hills again and stands on the old ridge track from where he had often gazed at Christminster. His childhood memories and his old ambitions are rekindled, and he decides to go to Christminster after completing his apprenticeship.
Arabella's behavior is typical of her selfishness; she has no more use for Jude. So she very conveniently cuts her losses and leaves. At the second-hand store, Jude finds that Arabella has even sold the photograph of himself that he gave her. He buys it back and burns it in anger. This convinces him to let go of any feelings he has for her. In a fit of depression, Jude tries to drown himself. And for the first time, the reader witnesses him trying to drown his sorrows in drink.
Later he goes back to the old ridge-track. Hardy makes use of this setting in a symbolic way. This was the spot where he had looked, entranced, at Christminster. It is further reported that his parents separated near the same spot. His aunt relates that there was a gallows in the vicinity, and this detail is in some way connected with Jude's family history. He learns the connection later in his life from Mrs. Edlin. It is now revealed that this is also the place where he as a young boy he had inscribed his initials on a milestone, indicating his aspirations of going to Christminster.
At the end of the chapter Jude's hopes are renewed. He has been through a disastrous marriage, but that obstacle has now been removed. Young and resilient as he is, he seems determined to proceed to his old ideal of Christminster.
Jude is seen three years later on his way to Christminster after completing his apprenticeship as a stone mason. Before leaving Marygreen, he saw a portrait of his pretty cousin, Sue Bridehead, who his aunt tells him is now in Christminster. Jude is at least partly inspired to pursue his goal in the city by Sue. He enters Christminster on foot in the evening and gets lodgings in a cheap suburb, Beersheba. He begins to explore the city at night. He has read and thought so much about Christminster that he imagines the ghosts of all the great scholars who have studied there are talking to him. When he falls asleep that night, he dreams of them. And when he awakens, he remembers he has yet to meet his old teacher.
Jude finally enters the city of his dreams. He goes to the city on foot by choice; probably he romantically thinks of himself as a pilgrim, humbly entering Christminster, the Temple of Learning. He is enraptured with the city and feels the presence of all the great men who have studied there. None of them are mentioned by name, but readers in Hardy's time would have recognized Hardy's contemporaries: Mathew Arnold, Edward Gibbon and Cardinal Newman. In his nighttime walk he sees a procession of such intellectuals, and even when he goes to bed he muses about them. But it is significant that Hardy says that the "ultimate impulse" to come to Christminster was emotional, not intellectual.
Jude had seen a portrait of Sue Bridehead, his cousin, but his Aunt Drusilla refused to give it to him, telling him only that Sue lived in Christminster. Hardy notes that the portrait "haunted him and ultimately formed a quickening ingredient" in his intention of following his schoolmaster to Christminster. The reader is given a hint that his interest in his cousin Sue may be the cause of future trouble to Jude.
Jude starts looking for a job in Christminster, and as soon as he is offered one (as a stone-cutter), he accepts it. By night he studies sincerely. He spends his money on books, pens and paper even though he cannot afford a fire. When it is too cold, he sits up reading wrapped in a greatcoat, hat and woolen gloves. He persuades his aunt to send him the portrait of Sue and she does so, but reluctantly, and with a warning not to contact Sue. But Jude learns that Sue is working in an ecclesiastical goods shop and eventually discovers her there one day at work. He does not introduce himself to her. Later, she passes him by on the street. He notices her elegance and sophistication in contrast to his own rustic ways. He still does not speak to her and resolves not to think of her except as a relative.
Hardy hints that Jude's dream of learning is going to be challenged by his interest in Sue. He shows Jude falling in love with his cousin before he even meets her. He puts the photograph of Sue, which Aunt Drusilla has sent him, on the mantelpiece and kisses it and immediately "felt more at home. She seemed to look down and preside over his tea." The first time he sees her at work in the ecclesiastical shop, she is designing on zinc the word "Alleluia." Jude is impressed with her beauty and the work she is. He has begun to idealize her.
Hardy demonstrates Jude's inaccurate perception of Sue's character. He is seeing her for what he wants to her to be, and not for what she really is. When she passes him on the street, he is again enchanted by her grace and delicate charm. She is a strong contrast to Arabella. The reader is gradually shown how Jude builds a new illusion, this time about his cousin. Nevertheless, he says he will think of her only in "quite a family way," because he is still married to Arabella and fears the Fawley family curse in matters of love and marriage. He tells himself that Sue will be a "kindly star, an elevating power . . . a tender friend" to him. Thus he idealizes her and does not himself realize the real extent of his fascination.