Jude the Obscure - Study Guide Part Third, At Melchester: Chapters 6-10 Summary & Analysis

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Part Third, At Melchester: Chapters 6-10 Summary

Chapter 6. Mr. Phillotson has taken on a large school in Shaston with the hope of teaching side by side with Sue once she becomes his wife. To keep himself distracted from Sue, Phillotson has begun studying Roman-Britannic antiquities in the hopes of one day writing a book about them. However, Sue's lack of communication with him and request that he not visit leaves him distracted with anticipation anyway. When Phillotson learns of Sue's troubles, he goes to Melchester and seeks out Jude. Despite the fact that he has the opportunity to lie and cause Phillotson to break his engagement to Sue, Jude tells him the truth about the scandal. A short time later, Sue comes to Melchester to see Jude. Jude tells Sue about Phillotson's visit and they exchange cross words. Jude then takes Sue to a quiet marketplace and tells her about his marriage to Arabella. Sue is outraged and quickly denies any affection for Jude.

Chapter 7. A short time later Jude receives a letter from Sue informing him that she is to marry Mr. Phillotson in a few weeks time. Despite the heartbreak this brings Jude, he not only agrees to walk her down the aisle but suggests they come to Melchester and marry there. On the morning of the wedding, they walk to the church and walk down the aisle as though they are the betrothed. Jude then buys Sue a veil to wear in the ceremony and watches as she commits herself to Phillotson.

Chapter 8. Jude sits in the sitting room he rented for Sue's use and wonders if she was honest in her emotions toward him. When a short time later Jude gets a job offer from his old boss in Christminster and word that his aunt has taken a turn for the worse, Jude decides it is time to leave Melchester. Jude goes to Christminster to check on the job offer after sending Sue word on their aunt and suggesting he meet her at the train station in Alfredston. However, on the night he is to catch the train, Jude stops in at a tavern and discovers that Arabella is working as a barmaid there. Jude reveals himself to Arabella and she asks him to wait for her to get off work so that she might tell him some things she feels he needs to know. Arabella and Jude take a train to Aldbrickham so that they might talk without being overheard by someone who knows either of them. Jude agrees even though he knows it will mean missing his meeting with Sue.

Chapter 9. The next morning, Jude returns to Christminster with Arabella and learns that she married another man in Australia from whom she is separated. Arabella wants Jude to keep quiet about their marriage because she does not want anyone to know she is a bigamist. Arabella tells him there is something else she wants to tell him, but does not. After Arabella leaves, Jude walks into Sue. Sue has come to Christminster because she was afraid his failure to show up at the Alfredston train station meant he was drinking again. Jude does not tell Sue, however, about his meeting with Arabella.

Sue and Jude travel to Marygreen together and discuss her level of happiness. Jude does not believe she is happy and Sue does not deny it, but she refuses to discuss details of her new life with him. Later, at Marygreen, Jude's aunt once again talks about the dangers of marriage for members of their family. When it appears the aunt will recover, Sue returns to Phillotson. A short time later, Jude gets a letter from Arabella telling him that her new husband has come to London and he wants her to help him run a public-house he has recently bought.

Chapter 10. Jude returns to Melchester because it is close to Sue and because he has decided to renew his efforts to become a priest. To this end, Jude joins the church choir. Around Easter, the choir begins to practice a song that touches Jude deeply. When Jude learns that the author of the song lives in a nearby village, he decides to go meet him because he feels this man could understand him and become a good friend. However, Jude is deeply disappointed to discover this man is not as insightful and caring as he had thought. When Jude arrives home, he finds a letter from Sue asking him to come to dinner that night, but it is already too late.

Part Third, At Melchester: Chapters 6-10 Analysis

Mr. Phillotson is deeply in love with Sue, but he is not willing to overlook an affair with Jude if the rumors he hears from the training school are true. However, Jude refuses to lie to him and reassures him that Sue has done nothing wrong. Sue is annoyed by this and attempts to get Jude to confess that he loves her. Instead Jude tells her that he is legally married even though his wife has left him. The next thing that Sue does shows the reader where her affections really lie. Sue decides to marry Phillotson; however, it is clearly not out of love but out of a sense of revenge on Jude for not telling her the truth of his marriage before she fell in love with him. The reader has been unclear on Sue's feelings up to this point, but it finally seems clear that she is in love with Jude, but she simply is too young and immature to respond to his difficulties with honesty.

Jude, on the other hand, shows a great deal of maturity when he not only consents to walking Sue down the aisle, but he hosts her wedding. Jude, however, is deeply heartbroken over this change of events and allows it to force him out of the town where he has made his life over the past few months. This leads to a surprise meeting with Arabella. For the reader who thought Arabella would be gone from the plot permanently when she went to Australia, this is a shocking turn of events. Arabella, however, confesses to Jude that she remarried in Australia even though their marriage continues to be a legal one. Arabella also tries to tell Jude something else, but never does. This is important because this other confession will prove to be life changing for Jude. Finally, the reader should note the fact that Jude spent the night with Arabella in a hotel and she was his wife at the time. This will also become important later in the novel.

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