Jude the Obscure - Study Guide Part First, At Marygreen: Chapters 1-4 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Jude the Obscure.
This section contains 603 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Part First, At Marygreen: Chapters 1-4 Summary

Thomas Hardy published this book in 1896, the last of his novels that are richly about what he referred to as character and environment. This novel is the most tragic, telling the story of the impact of environment on one man's desires.

Chapter 1. The schoolmaster, Mr. Phillotson, is leaving the village of Marygreen in order to pursue his education in Christminster. Everyone has come to say goodbye, including Jude Fawley, who was a night student of the schoolmaster. When Jude asks Mr. Phillotson why he is leaving, the schoolmaster explains that the measure of a man is his level of education.

Chapter 2. Jude returns to the bakery where he lives with his aunt, a woman who laments the fact that he did not die with his father or go to Christminster with the schoolmaster. Jude is then sent to his job, scaring away the birds in a farmer's field. However, Jude is caught feeding the birds instead and fired. These two things leave Jude feeling unwanted.

Chapter 3. Jude climbs to the roof of an old barn known as Brown House and tries to see Christminster over the horizon. Jude stops a workman and asks where the city is and is pointed toward a distant light that he imagines to be the city. Over the next few months, Jude works in his aunt's bakery during the day and goes to Brown House at night.

Chapter 4. Jude meets Dr. Vilbert on the road from Christminster and asks him if he has been to Christminster. When Dr. Vilbert says he has, Jude asks if he could help him learn Latin and Greek. The doctor agrees to bring Jude some of his old grammar books if Jude will find him new customers. Jude does this, but the doctor has forgotten his promise. About this same time, Mr. Phillotson sends for his piano. Jude sneaks a note to the teacher in the crate that asks for some grammar books. A short time later, Jude receives his books and begins his studies alone.

Part First, At Marygreen: Chapters 1-4 Analysis

The reader is introduced to Jude Fawley, a young child of ten or twelve, who has been orphaned and left to live with his aunt, a kind woman who is nevertheless unhappy with her new burden so late in her life. The aunt often tells Jude he would be better to be dead beside his father than still living as a burden in her bakery. This causes Jude to feel unwanted and worthless, so he finds himself focusing on the parting words of his schoolmaster, telling him that a man's worth is measured by his level of education. Jude begins to fantasize about moving to Christminster, a large city that has multiple universities. However, Jude does not have access to basic education and finds a way to educate himself. This shows the reader how determined Jude is to become educated despite his situation.

In these early chapters, the reader is also introduced to the setting of the novel. The novel takes place in the late nineteenth century in Hardy's fictionalized area of Wessex. The novel begins in a small village, Marygreen, where Jude has gone to live with his aunt. However, Jude dreams of going to Christminster where there are many universities that he hopes to one day attend. The setting of this novel is important to the overall plot of the novel because Christminster plays a huge part in Jude's dreams, as does the time period play a part in Jude's home life and his future.

This section contains 603 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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