Jude the Obscure

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Jude the Obscure Part 4, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day Jude and Sue part ways in the road, go a few yards, and then run back to each other and kiss passionately. Then they separate for good, both of them flustered. After this Jude decides that he cannot become a clergyman as long as he loves Sue so passionately and has an estranged wife living apart from him. Jude notes that his ambition towards the clergy has been checked by Sue just like his ambition for Christminster was checked by Arabella.
This is the largest display of passion from Sue yet, and makes her into a more human, sympathetic character. Now that he has some reciprocation in his love, Jude decides to fully give up his pretensions at religiosity and embrace his “sinful,” progressive lifestyle.
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Jude gathers up his theological books and pamphlets and burns them behind his aunt’s house. Jude feels cleansed by this, like “an ordinary sinner, and not as a whited sepulchre.” Meanwhile Sue weeps on the train to Shaston, promising to herself to break off all contact with Jude.
Jude still thinks in Biblical language – the “whited sepulchre” was a phrase Jesus used to describe the hypocritical Pharisees – but Jude is now turning that language against Christianity itself.
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Phillotson meets Sue at the station, and Sue admits to him that she held Jude’s hand, but says nothing about the kiss. Phillotson seems unperturbed. That night Phillotson wakes up and notices Sue still isn’t in bed. He finds her hiding in a closet under the stairs. He pulls the door open and Sue pleads with him to leave her alone. Phillotson says it is cruel for her to avoid him so, as he is a kind husband, but Sue says it is just the cruel universe that determines her feelings. Phillotson agrees to leave her in peace, but the next morning she asks if she can live apart from him.
Sue is still innocent of worldliness in many ways, so she makes the bold request to live apart from Phillotson when such an idea would be scandalous and unthinkable to anyone else. For someone as sensitive and idealistic as Sue, a marriage (especially involving physicality) to anyone she does not love is unbearable. Though Phillotson is a kind man, he can’t help causing Sue torment by his mere presence.
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Phillotson is surprised and questions Sue’s reasons, and she explains how she felt forced into the marriage by the opinion of society and the Training College. Phillotson says that this behavior is “irregular,” and Sue says she wishes domestic laws could be changed “according to temperaments,” as the laws are failing if they make her miserable for committing no sin. She feels that it is “adultery” for them to live together without love, even if they are legally married.
Hardy suggests again that divorce could be made easier or that marriage laws could be relaxed. Sue’s statement that her married relations with Phillotson would be “adultery” is especially potent – it overturns all conventions of law and religion, but Hardy has managed to create a situation where we are sympathetic to Sue’s case.
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Phillotson asks if Sue plans to live alone, and she admits that she wants to live with Jude. Phillotson accuses her of being in love with Jude, but Sue denies it. The couple then goes off to teach at the school, but they continue their debate by writing notes that they pass to each other through their students. Finally Phillotson agrees to live in the same house but in separate rooms.
Though she is emotionally inconsistent, Sue is usually incapable of lying, so it may be that she doesn’t actually love Jude yet. She is still looking for an intellectual, platonic “soulmate” in a world that only recognizes sexual relations and legal marriage contracts.
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