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JUDE THE OBSCURE - FREE STUDY GUIDE
The next Sunday Jude attends the evening service at the Cathedral. Sue is also present at the same service and Jude observes her with growing interest and admiration. He still does not approach her. The organ music and his vision of Sue in church affects Jude greatly. He leaves the church spiritually and emotionally elevated.
Some days earlier Sue went on an evening walk and impulsively bought some plaster statuettes of Venus and Apollo. She hides them in brown paper and tells her landlady that they are figures of St. Peter and Mary Magdalene. Later, she unwraps them and places them on a chest of drawers. At this time Jude is earnestly reading his Greek New Testament.
Hardy here uses contrasting scenes to show the extent of Jude's own illusions about Sue. He imagines Sue to be "steeped body and soul in church sentiment" because he has seen her in church. But the reader is shown Sue buying plaster reproductions of Greek gods, Venus and Apollo, representations of the female and male embodiments of physical beauty. She places them on her chest of drawers next to a Calvary print. This action is symbolic, and Hardy deliberately emphasizes the contrast between two different systems of belief (pagan and Christian). Far from being conventionally religions, Sue is influenced by rational agnostic thinkers like Gibbon and Swinburne. The reader is given a kind of warning about what her actual influence on Jude will be.
Jude himself regards Sue as an agent of moral regeneration, but Hardy makes it clear that his motivation to see Sue is far from spiritual. Whatever Jude may tell himself, "he could not altogether be blind to the real nature of the magnetism." Jude seems on the way to preparing new trouble for himself.
Jude once again sees Sue in church with Miss Fontover but again does not present himself to her. He is uneasy about his growing attachment to her. Meanwhile, Sue has heard of Jude's presence in Christminster and visits him at work, but finding him out, she leaves a friendly note for him. Jude sends her a note in reply and they arrange to meet. Sue tells him she will be leaving Christminster. Jude talks of his old schoolmaster, Phillotson, and discovers from Sue that he is still a village teacher at Lumsdon, outside Christminster. Jude is disappointed that Phillotson has remained only a teacher and not graduated from the university. They decide to call on Phillotson together.
Jude's old schoolmaster barely remembers him, but the friendship is renewed. Although Jude reminds him that his path has always inspired him, Phillotson informs Jude that he has given up all hope of ever enrolling in the university. Phillotson also mentions that he is in need of a pupil-teacher. On their way back to Christminster, Sue tells Jude that she quarreled with Miss Fontover over her pagan statues. As a result of this argument, she has to leave. Jude is anxious to keep Sue near him and suggests a career in teaching while working as Phillotson's assistant. He returns to Phillotson the next day and recommends his cousin Sue as an assistant teacher. Phillotson readily agrees to this suggestion.
The reader sees Jude in this chapter growing more aware of his interest in Sue and at the same time becoming uneasy about it. After seeing her in church he realizes she is a woman who is "beginning to influence him in such an indescribable manner." To his "moral consternation," he finds himself "thinking more of her instead of less of her." He realizes that for a married man like him, the situation is an unorthodox, "immoral" one.
In this chapter Jude and Sue meet face to face for the first time. Jude is surprised at what a contrast Sue is to Arabella. Although Sue is extremely vivacious and friendly, she does not flirt with him. Even the situations in which he meets Sue are the complete opposite of those in which he met with Arabella. Unlike Arabella, Sue does not scheme to steal away with Jude. While Arabella was quite indifferent about where they met, Sue is very sensitive to her surroundings. The most important distinction is that while Arabella wanted Jude as a lover, Sue just expects friendship from him. On the way back to Christminster, Jude realizes he is now more than ever in love. He knows that "while her sentiments towards him were those of the frankest friendliness, he loved her more than before becoming acquainted with her."
The reader can also notice Sue's practical comments regarding Christminster; she does not share Jude's romantic love for the university. Jude wonders how she can bear to leave the city of Newman, Pusey, Ward and Keble. Sue's pragmatic reply is that they are not all that important in the history of the world. Many more such differences will subsequently crop up between them.
The place where Jude and Sue meet is also significant. It is close to a cross, which marks a place of martyrdom. The reference is to an area in Oxford where heretics and those holding unorthodox views were burned at the stake. The symbolism is clear and rather pointed: the relationship between Jude and Sue is overshadowed by a tragic omen.
Sue proves to be quite a success as a teacher, and Phillotson is happy with her work. But he soon begins to be interested in her as a woman. He starts giving her lessons in the evening with her landlady as chaperone. One day Sue and Phillotson take the school children to Christminster to see an exhibition of a model of the city of Jerusalem. Sue is skeptical about its accuracy and critiques Jerusalem as an ancient city. Phillotson mildly reprimands her. Then they see Jude at the exhibition. He is greatly fascinated by the model. Phillotson repeats Sue's criticism to Jude, and Sue turns to Jude for comfort.
The next day, in school, Sue draws on the blackboard an accurate model, which demonstrates her remarkable powers of observation. That same day the school inspector pays a surprise visit to the school. Sue is very upset, due to her inexperience. Phillotson's protective instincts are aroused, and he revives Sue's spirits with brandy and encouraging words. A few days later Jude comes to visit her in the rain. He catches sight of Sue and Phillotson leaving the vicarage under one umbrella; Phillotson's arm is around Sue. He is overcome with jealousy and returns without calling on them. He knows Phillotson is about twenty years older than Sue and rues the fact that it was he who brought them together.
Events move quickly in this chapter. Phillotson is seen becoming a rival to Jude, a rival whom Jude cannot fight since he knows he is still bound to Arabella. The irony is that it was Jude who has brought this union about by getting Sue a teaching post with Phillotson. His idea was to keep Sue near him, but it seems he did not foresee the growing intimacy between Phillotson and Sue. Phillotson, of course, is entirely unaware that Jude has anything more than a cousin's regard for Sue. Sue herself is quite unconscious of the tug-of-war between the two men. "She had not the least conception . . . of what a complication she was building up thereby in the futures of both." She is not wholly aware of the effect she has on Phillotson and Jude, although otherwise she is extremely talented and discerning, as seen in the model of Jerusalem that she draws from memory and in her overall teaching ability.