Jude the Obscure

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Jude the Obscure Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On his way home Jude runs into Physician Vilbert, an itinerant quack-doctor who travels constantly and sells false remedies to people. Jude asks him about Christminster, and Vilbert says that even the old washerwomen there speak Latin. Jude affirms his desire to learn Greek and Latin and go to Christminster one day, and Vilbert offers to sell Jude his old grammar books if Jude will advertise for his medicines at every house in the village for two weeks. Jude agrees, and he upholds his end of the bargain.
Vilbert is quickly revealed to be liar, but Jude believes him when he affirms his idealism of Christminster. This is a relatively harmless example of what will become a tragic pattern later – Jude is too high-minded and sensitive to properly survive a society that takes advantage of him.
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Two weeks later Physician Vilbert returns and Jude gives him the orders for medicines he has taken. Vilbert is pleased, but he says he has forgotten his grammar books (and he seems to have forgotten about Jude as well.) Jude is disappointed, and realizes what “shoddy humanity” Vilbert is made of. Soon afterwards Phillotson sends for his piano, and Jude hides a note inside the instrument requesting any old copies of grammar books Phillotson can spare.
The world of the novel is very small, and Vilbert will return years later to “defeat” Jude again. In Hardy’s worldview, English society rewards the vain and narrow-minded at the expense of the pure, innocent idealists.
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After a few weeks Phillotson sends Jude two grammar books. Jude begins to read them excitedly, but then he is overwhelmed by the difficulty of learning a new language and memorizing thousands of words. He thinks this is beyond his intelligence, effectively crushing his dream. Jude grows depressed and wishes he had never been born.
This is the first disappointment Jude feels regarding his dream and its extreme difficulty. Many characters get depressed and wish they had never been born, illustrating the novel’s pessimistic outlook and the seemingly unavoidable hand of tragic fate.
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