Jude the Obscure

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Jude the Obscure Part 4, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator describes the town of Shaston, where Sue now lives, as a place of worldly pleasures. Jude arrives there and comes to the schoolroom where Sue teaches, but he finds it empty. Phillotson’s old piano is there, and Jude sits down and plays “The Foot of the Cross.” Sue appears behind him and says that she also has been recently affected by that hymn.
The setting changes again as Jude and Sue keep searching for a new place to call home in a world that does not want them. They show their perfectly attuned natures by the fact that they have both been affected by the same hymn at the same time. Even the piano becomes a recurring character.
Themes
Marriage Theme Icon
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They have tea and discuss their relationship, and again both are struck by the similarity of their natures. They spontaneously hold hands several times. Jude accuses Sue of being a flirt sometimes and she is offended by this, but she admits that she does love being loved. Sue calls Jude a “tragic Don Quixote” and compares him to St. Stephen the martyr, and then she muses about society’s pigeonholing of individuals – she is called “Mrs. Phillotson” now, but she is still a lonely, inconsistent woman.
Jude and Sue’s relationship constantly shifts between argument and affection, as they are both extremely intelligent, sensitive, and inconsistent. Sue calls Jude “Don Quixote” (a delusional romantic) and also “St. Stephen” (a martyr killed for his faith) in an exaggerated but apt characterization. Sue is again the mouthpiece for Hardy’s social criticism.
Themes
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Social Criticism Theme Icon
Women in Society Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Sue tells Jude to come back the following week and she sends him away. Jude wanders about town, waiting for the train, and he passes by Sue’s house. Through the window he sees her looking at a photograph, and Jude wonders if it is a picture of himself. Jude leaves, planning to resist his feelings for Sue but already recognizing that “the human was more powerful in him than the Divine.”
Sue does have passion and love in her, though it rarely appears and it tortures Jude with its infrequency. We never know if she is actually looking at a photo of Jude or not, or even just how strong her romantic feelings for Jude are. Jude starts to recognize that his professed Christianity is growing more hypocritical.
Themes
Women in Society Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon