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Archived Group Reads 2014 > Jude The Obscure - Book 3 At Melchester (week 3)

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Please post your comments about book 3.


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter Everyman and Jana and others mention the detailed and finely crafted structure of Hardy in Book Two. as I moved into Book Three At Melchester we see more of the struggle between the old and the new portrayed in terms of architecture, social history and day-to-day life.

The building where Sue attends her training "was an ancient edifice of the fifteenth century, once a palace, now a training school" Later in Book Three Sue wants to sit in "the railway station ... . That's the centre of the town life now. The cathedral has had its day."

The constant conflict of the past with the ever-encroaching present and future plays itself out over and over. Buildings, social expectations, morals and religious beliefs all seem to be weighed, analysed and commented upon by Hardy.


message 3: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 188 comments Hardy certainly isn't one for cheesy outcomes. Producing Rom Com movies of today is unlikely to be his forte. Two unhappy marriages now with Arabella being 'double-booked'; I'm always wishing for some little solace to come Jude's way, for example, what about Phillotson and Arabella shuffling off this mortal coil thus making way for the two young lovers? I think that that would be fair enough as Mr Phillotson was punching above his weight after all! :p. Sue is definitely one mixed up little girl though. Very believable, I think, as that's how people are, in one way or another.

Being a sucker for happy endings, I suppose I can't expect miracles; I did choose to read Hardy after all. That being said, I am really enjoying this, even more than M of C. Who knows? Maybe there are happier times yet to come, but I shall not hold my breath.


message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter Hilary wrote: "Hardy certainly isn't one for cheesy outcomes. Producing Rom Com movies of today is unlikely to be his forte. Two unhappy marriages now with Arabella being 'double-booked'; I'm always wishing for..."

I agree. While it may seem that Sue is strongly conflicted, I also think the reality is most people, at least internally, navigate in rough, conflicted waters. By following her actions, words and letters we meet a very human person, attempting to deal with the rawest and most important of needs.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments The primary aspect of Sue that I'm seeing coming out is a lack of impulse control. She seems to be not very well centered, but to be blown by whatever breeze happens to be about.

One bad experience with Jude, and she flees to the apparent safety of Phillotson. One moment she wants Jude to love her, another she doesn't. And on and on. She is basically a slave to impulse.


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments So Arabella is back, and Sue is married.

And the section almost ends on a downer for Jude -- not only was the composer a bust, really not interested in him since he has no money, but he missed the dinner with Sue and Phillotson that he was "to be sure to come" to.

But then in the last sentence, he's off to see Sue.

But what can come of this? He's still married, and now she's married. And she's working in her husband's school, so is under his thumb virtually all day long. How can Sue and Jude expect any time for comfortable talking? What is to come of them?


Helen_in_the_uk | 109 comments Very interesting section of the book. Sue and Jude stay a night together (in separate armchairs) and everything kicks off ... she gets expelled, decides to marry Phillotson. Then Jude visits Christminster and meets up with Arabella again, who has 'married' another man in Australia and then left him. Hardy certainly likes to pack in the drama!

I almost forgot that Jude moved to Melchester to pursue his new idea of becoming a Licentiate. However, he has done nothing about it during his time there. Again, he has embarked on a path without a definite plan and no attempt to find a mentor to guide him.

He is drifting ... mostly to the tune of Sue's whims. As Everyman said, Sue is a creature of impulse. How often has she told Jude one thing, then sent a note apologising and changing her mind? Get a grip Jude.


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Helen_in_the_uk wrote: "I almost forgot that Jude moved to Melchester to pursue his new idea of becoming a Licentiate. However, he has done nothing about it during his time there. "

He does say, at the start of Book 3:

"As it would be necessary that he should continue for a time to work at his trade while reading up Divinity, which he had neglected at Christminster for the ordinary classical grind, what better course for him than to get employment at the further city, and pursue this plan of reading? ... He considered that he might so mark out his coming years as to begin his ministry at the age of thirty—an age which much attracted him as being that of his exemplar when he first began to teach in Galilee. This would allow him plenty of time for deliberate study,"

He does read divinity for awhile, which is what he had decided was the necessary path before he could become a licentiate. But once again, he gets diverted from this path, not by liquor but by women.


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Helen_in_the_uk wrote: "As Everyman said, Sue is a creature of impulse. How often has she told Jude one thing, then sent a note apologising and changing her mind? Get a grip Jude. "

Which is more exasperating to the reader: Sue for her waffling, or Jude for putting up with it?


message 10: by Lily (last edited May 14, 2014 05:12AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "Which is more exasperating to the reader: Sue for her waffling, or Jude for putting up with it? ..."

I think, for me, Hardy's seeming inability to take the reader to a clearer point of understanding why Sue waffles. But, in fairness to Hardy, there may not have been language yet to describe her seeming interplay of cultural and sexual inhibitions/desires. Still, Hardy comes across to this reader as "that man who doesn't understand women" -- he can describe and observe, but not phantom her psyche. (Exasperating as James is, contrast his "Portrait of a Lady." He also is not explicit, keeping within Victorian writing. The reader may have to struggle to understand the heroine, but the information is there. I can't decide yet about Hardy re Sue in Jude. I think it is in Tess.)

My exasperation with Jude is more his failure to find ways to achieve his dreams of earning via working with his mind, at least at some level and despite the odds stacked against him. Here I have a greater sense of the social and economic barriers of the time, including an industrial age that has not yet arrived, opening the opportunities for industrial jobs like engineering, accounting, .... -- the ones that were among the first taken up by "second" sons of gentry.


message 11: by Kate (new)

Kate | 18 comments Everyman wrote: "The primary aspect of Sue that I'm seeing coming out is a lack of impulse control. She seems to be not very well centered, but to be blown by whatever breeze happens to be about.

One bad experi..."


I see this 'impulsiveness' as her struggle between doing what she wants to do and doing what society expects her to do. For her day, I imagine being one of the frontrunners to break conventions would cause immense challenges for an already capricious sex.

Although, perhaps to a lesser degree, I think we could also call Jude impulsive in this sense. Where Jude's drunkenness seems to push Sue towards her engagement with Phillotson, Sue's marriage pushes Jude into a night with Arabella.


message 12: by Kate (new)

Kate | 18 comments Hilary wrote: "Hardy certainly isn't one for cheesy outcomes. Producing Rom Com movies of today is unlikely to be his forte. Two unhappy marriages now with Arabella being 'double-booked'; I'm always wishing for..."

I agree Hilary. I hope something positive comes of this for Jude and Sue, but I can't see it, given the times and situation. This is the first Hardy I've read, but it definitely won't put me off reading more. Where Dickens romanticised, this is what life was really like, I think.


message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate | 18 comments Everyman wrote: "So Arabella is back, and Sue is married.

And the section almost ends on a downer for Jude -- not only was the composer a bust, really not interested in him since he has no money, but he missed t..."


I agree. They're not making it easy for themselves! Part of me hopes they stop contact, but then the other half is hoping something good will eventually come of it.


message 14: by Kate (new)

Kate | 18 comments Helen_in_the_uk wrote: "Very interesting section of the book. Sue and Jude stay a night together (in separate armchairs) and everything kicks off ... she gets expelled, decides to marry Phillotson. Then Jude visits Chri..."

It's like a soap opera! LOL. Not that I watched many. The only ones I did watch was when I was living at home in England - Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Eastenders and the like. I'm trying to think if there were any story lines like this one.


message 15: by Kate (new)

Kate | 18 comments All in all, I think the storyline and characters are timeless and even in today's times, many of these issues occur. Of course, we don't have some of the social conventions, however, this is clearly a story that plays heavily on human emotions and aspirations. I am sure every read can relate in some way or other.


message 16: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
Starting Book Three today!! All your posts have raised my expectations. :)

And, of course, Lily has me wanting to read the Tomalin biography. Especially to see where Hardy got his ideas about women.

I love to find connections, too, Kate!


message 17: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
Lol! It is definitely like a soap opera! I keep remembering that Hardy's working title was something like Two Simpletons. They both have such great plans, and such deep emotions, and are so deeply impulse driven. Not to mention how their paths are affected by social strata and societal pressures. I wonder if they might have been able to circumvent the latter, if their natures had been different.


message 18: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Renee wrote: " I wonder if they might have been able to circumvent the latter, if their natures had been different...."

Thx for the question, Renee. It has always been one of mine about this novel and these characters, but maybe there is excessive freedom of opportunity, possibilities of hard work values in my background.


message 19: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
It gets soapier. Are you enjoying it so far? Aside from Jude's behavior?


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