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JUDE THE OBSCURE BY THOMAS HARDY - FREE NOTES
Sue arrives at Phillotson's house in Marygreen. When Phillotson welcomes her with a kiss, she shrinks in revulsion. And when she sees the marriage license, she recoils in fear, yet she is determined to go through with the marriage. Gillingham joins them for supper and Sue goes to Mrs. Edlin's place for the night. When a pretty, embroidered night gown is laid out for her, Sue tears it to pieces, saying it is an adulterous thing, since she had bought it to please Jude. Mrs. Edlin, who perceives that Sue is still in love with the other man (i.e. Jude), tells her that she should not marry Phillotson. Phillotson in the meantime is uncertain whether to go ahead with the wedding, which is to be the next day. He discusses the matter with Gillingham, who advises him to stick to his plan. Mrs. Edlin comes to tell Phillotson that Sue is forcing herself to marry him and that he should call off the wedding. But Phillotson claims that Sue is marrying him of her own will. However, he has doubts about whether he should give Sue more time, but Gillingham urges him on. The next morning Sue and Phillotson are remarried in the church; Gillingham gives Sue away, as Mr. Edlin has refused to assist. When they return home, Phillotson promises Sue that he will not intrude on her privacy. Their marriage will be in name only, for the purpose of gaining social acceptance. Sue is relieved by this offer.
The chapter gives the reader every indication that Sue is making herself remarry Phillotson against her better instincts. She cannot kiss him, she is upset when she sees the marriage license, and she even tears her pretty nightgown to shreds. Hardy reveals her unconscious motivation: she is marrying Phillotson, whom she does not love, simply to punish herself. By marrying Phillotson, she is trying to exorcise the guilt she feels over the children's deaths. But neither religion nor law decrees that marriage is a punishment: such a marriage cannot work and is basically wrong, as Mrs. Edlin points out. Mrs. Edlin represents the voice of common sense. She bluntly tells Sue that her actual responsibility is towards Jude, to whom she is being unjust. Phillotson also has several moments of hesitation, but the temptation to straighten out his career and improve his social standing is too much, and he goes ahead with this mockery of a marriage. He has suffered much by granting Sue her freedom. The fog which shrouds Marygreen on the wedding day of Sue and Phillotson is symbolic of the blindness of the actors in this tragedy and of the misery which is bound to cloud this marriage.
The next day in Christminster, Arabella arrives at Jude's doorstep saying she is destitute and homeless after quarrelling with her father. She begs Jude to take her in. Jude is initially reluctant, but ultimately he feels sorry for her, and he arranges with the landlord to have a bed provided for her. When she raises the issue of Sue's wedding, Jude becomes touchy. But Arabella persists and offers to get news of the wedding from Anny in Alfredston.
Arabella leaves and returns with the news that Phillotson and Sue were married; she has even heard about the incident of Sue's burning a particular nightgown in an attempt to forget Jude. She also tells Jude that Sue has now resolved to accept Phillotson as her husband. Arabella declares the same feelings for Jude. Jude is miserable and depressed, and after visiting his old haunts, he goes into a tavern to drink. In the meantime Arabella patches up her quarrel with her father and arranges with him to leave the house open for herself and Jude. She goes to the tavern to find Jude, gets him to drink more, and then persuades him to come to her father's house. Jude is too drunk to know what he is doing.
Arabella is up to her old cunning tricks, and she schemes to get Jude back. By playing on his soft heartedness, she gets a place in his house. Then, finding that her physical charms are no longer seductive, she encourages his despair and gloom and encourages him to drink. He is soon completely in her power again. The reader is reminded of the earlier scene at the cottage in Cresscombe (Part I, Chapter 13) when she first schemed to get him. She manages to trap Jude again, as he is totally in despair at being deserted by Sue. He is too dejected to find the strength to fight against Arabella. Although he knows he will be ruined by getting involved with her again, he probably no longer cares. He seems to have been totally broken by life.
Arabella plots with her father to make Jude stay with them until she can remarry him. She arranges to have his belongings brought over, and all the while, they ply Jude with liquor. Finally, they arrange an-all night party to advertise her father's shop, and in the morning Arabella insists that Jude has promised to marry her. Jude, who is intoxicated and dazed, claims he has made no such promise. But when Mr. Donn questions Jude's "honor," Jude gives in. He defends himself, claiming that he has never in his life intended to treat anyone with indignity. He is also too befuddled to make any more protests. They go off to the church and are remarried. When they return, Arabella is triumphant at having achieved her goal, while Jude is still drunk and in a daze.
The sordid scene of the all-night drinking party is a fitting background for this marriage. Arabella knows from experience how to make Jude do what she wants. The trap she lays is a clumsy one, but Jude is in a state of drunken despair and has no will to resist her. As in an earlier part of the book (I, 7), Hardy again refers to Jude as a "shorn Samson," implying that Jude is no match for Arabella's scheming.
With the developments of this chapter, the two main characters of the novel have finally submitted to social pressure, which they have been fighting against all along. In doing this, they receive the approval of society, but they are inwardly crushed. The marriages that the two consent to lack the essential sentiment and can even be regarded as fraudulent.