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Jude the Obscure
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Archived Group Reads 2020 > Jude the Obscure: Jude the Obscure: Week 3: Part Third - At Melchester

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message 1: by Kerstin, Moderator (last edited Jan 22, 2020 03:37PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kerstin | 619 comments Mod
Jude follows Sue to Melchester where she studies to become a teacher in preparation to marrying Phillotson. The idea being, that she could teach girls and he the boys.

Jude and Sue go on an outing outside of town by train. They miss the return train and stay overnight at a farm.

Having missed her curfew Sue is anxious upon returning to the school. Her early morning arrival raises eyebrows and gets chins wagging. Instead of facing her superiors and making an account of her whereabouts she escapes through a window, fords a river and arrives shivering at Jude’s. Here she stays until the following morning waiting for her clothes to dry.

Knowing she can’t go back to the school she leaves by train to another town where she can stay with a friend. She is indeed expelled.

Phillotson, meanwhile, is picturing his future with Sue. When he doesn’t hear from her for a few days he travels to and makes inquiries at the school only to discover she had been expelled. With the help of Jude he meets up with her. Phillotson and Sue move up the wedding.

Jude is despondent and resumes his work. Sue writes him and asks him to give her away at the wedding. He consents.

Jude receives news his great-aunt is on her deathbed and at the same time a renewed job offer at Christminster. At Christminster he resumes lodging again at the same place and spends time in a bar while waiting for his train. Here he comes face-to-face with Arabella. They take up lodging at an inn for the night, and on the following morning she informs him she had married in Australia.

Jude catches his train to Alfredston and on the platform meets Sue. Together they go to Marygreen. Upon arrival they find Drusilla up and about.
Sue admits to not loving Phillotson and she departs. Jude receives a letter from Arabella, her “husband” had arrived from Australia and will run a hotel in Lambeth. He lets her go.


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments (Almost done with this section -)

Crazy Sue - can she make up her mind or what? Jude must move on from Arabella, but that is dragging on... :)


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments On the back of my paperback it says:

“...His loveless marriage to Arabella breaks down after the birth of their son, and Jude falls in love with his cousin, Sue Brideshead. She too is unhappily married...”

Do you have this on your books too?

There is something wrong with this information about a son and the chronology of when Jude falls in love and when Sue is married.

This has made me confused.


Peggy | 24 comments I’m reading a iBooks version, but I see what you mean. I’m not experiencing the same chronological order as they describe on your book.


Peggy | 24 comments Jude’s masonry work is interesting to me. Here he is building monuments to a religion he hopes to be a parson to by carving and chiseling something so hard and dense like stones and marble with great efforts into beautiful and long lasting edifices. He’s trying to do the same with his life and rise above his station, but the very religion he venerates has ignored and discarded him. It’s easier to change mountains of stone into temples than it is to change his place in society. The futility is depressing. I’d want to drink too.

Thoughts? Am I romanticizing this?


Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Peggy wrote: "Thoughts? Am I romanticizing this?..."

No. You are encountering Hardy's sense of inexorability of human destiny, to draw from the article Charlotte gave us, or at least so it seems to me. Being an American, part of its broad emigrant history of moving on to opportunity, I draw heavily on a broad tradition of being to pull oneself up by the boot straps, whether or not one actually succeeds in doing so.

As I have said before, I struggle with Hardy. I wonder if Jude represents in some ways a too easy (my judgement here) acceptance of the class system that is widely viewed as simply a part of the culture of England. Jude is foolish to think he can break cultural barriers? As is Sue? And Arabella? And Phillotson? (view spoiler)

Yet, Tess is such a magnificent (imo) challenge to cultural assumptions....

From the article Charlotte pointed us towards:

"The poet and novelist Thomas Hardy is perhaps most famous for his powerfully visual novels, concerned with the inexorability of human destiny." Bold added. https://www.bl.uk/people/thomas-hardy


message 7: by Kerstin, Moderator (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kerstin | 619 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "On the back of my paperback it says:

“...His loveless marriage to Arabella breaks down after the birth of their son, and Jude falls in love with his cousin, Sue Brideshead. She too is unhappily ma..."


That's flat our wrong. They didn't have a child together. Somebody must have made a mistake there...


message 8: by Kerstin, Moderator (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kerstin | 619 comments Mod
Peggy wrote: "Jude’s masonry work is interesting to me. Here he is building monuments to a religion he hopes to be a parson to by carving and chiseling something so hard and dense like stones and marble with gre..."

Actually Peggy, I think you are getting deeper into it.
We haven't really talked about all the philosophical and religious allusions that started with the first chapter. There is a lot going on there. I'm going to have to pull a few things together for everyone - at least what I saw...

Yes, we have a stratified society, but Jude for all his self-taught book-learning is at the same time very inept when it comes to practical matters. He just lets things happen to him without much discernment. At least this is the impression I get. For instance, in hindsight we find out Drusilla counseled him not to marry Arabella. Then it takes him forever to get the gumption to apply to the colleges but without any kind of understanding of how the process works. He didn't consult anyone who could have been helpful in the endeavor and/or find a benefactor who could have helped pave the way. It's like dabbling with software in your basement and thinking you can get a job with Big-Tech by cold-calling at the door. You won't get past the receptionist. Jude's dreams of childhood never ripened into maturity.


message 9: by Kerstin, Moderator (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kerstin | 619 comments Mod
Lily wrote: "Peggy wrote: "Thoughts? Am I romanticizing this?..."

No. You are encountering Hardy's sense of inexorability of human destiny, to draw from the article Charlotte gave us, or at least so it seems t..."


I think with England you still have a very strong stratification of society in place in the 1890s, less permeable than perhaps in other parts of Europe. Even today when you look at who belongs to the "establishment" and who doesn't. Accident of birth is paramount and not money, ability, or merit. I am reminded of the old Peter Sellers comedy The Magic Christian where Sellers mercilessly poked fun at it. In contrast, Germany had a sizable middle class in the 1890s, many of which coming from humble beginnings and worked themselves up.


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments In the above link to the bl-article, it says about Hardy’s marriage: “Their rift was increased by Emma’s objection to the unremitting gloom of Jude the Obscure, and its pessimistic view of marriage. ”

Now we have been reading about Jude whirling hopelessly around Sue forever and ever - and not being able to cut off Arabella. I can imagine how dreadful it would be to read this if I was Hardy’s wife! :)


Charlotte (charlottecph) | 271 comments Lily wrote: ", ... broad emigrant history of moving on to opportunity..."

Interesting cultural comparison! The story-line in this book is pointing in an entirely different angle. :)


message 12: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Kerstin wrote: "That's flat out wrong. They didn't have a child together. Somebody must have made a mistake there..."

Hang on here. If I remember correctly, it gets very complicated. But I'd probably still say the blurb is inaccurate. (view spoiler)


message 13: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Charlotte wrote: "Lily wrote: ", ... broad emigrant history of moving on to opportunity..."

Interesting cultural comparison! The story-line in this book is pointing in an entirely different angle. :)"


Definitely not a Kobe Bryant story! (view spoiler)


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