Three years after his marriage, Jude finally goes to Christminster. He has grown skilled at his craft of stoneworking, and marches into town with his tools. He was partly motivated to move by seeing a portrait of his cousin, Sue Bridehead, at his aunt’s house. Sue lives in Christminster, though he doesn’t know where.
Arabella temporarily leaves the novel as Hardy continues to foreshadow the approach of Sue Bridehead, his other protagonist and progressive female character. Jude seems on the right track to achieving his dream now – the distant halo of Christminster has become a real city.
Jude enters the town and takes lodgings in an area called Beersheba. He goes out at night and passes by the ancient, ornate college buildings. He wanders the empty streets and imagines the shades of dead philosophers and writers around him. He converses aloud with them until a policeman comments on his odd behavior. Jude returns to his room and as he falls asleep he hears more quotations from the “spectres” of different writers. The next morning he remembers that he is here to find Mr. Phillotson and his cousin Sue.
Though Jude has reached the real Christminster, he is still seeing it through the haze of his own idealism. As a stonemason, Jude is able to admire the beautiful old stonework and add it to his idolization of Christminster, imagining the wondrous scholarship that must dwell inside the magnificent buildings. Jude’s interior life is so overwhelming that he can become almost delusional.