.. marital status. Regardless of the convoluted reasoning, Sue was able to perform the duty of marriage but not the duty of the bedroom. Philotson finds that she would rather sleep in the closet than with him. As her repulsion grows, so does her longing for Jude and freedom from marital constraint. Poor Philotson, aware of Sues affections for Jude and her aversion to himself, allows her to leave the marriage.
So Sue gets her freedom, yet despite her unconventional values, she just can not seem to go long without this sense of duty that overwhelms her. She is torn between her own values and those that society has not only instilled in her, but reminds her of daily. She takes deeply to heart such instances as when she and Jude were not seen fit to complete their job of painting of the Ten Commandments. “I cant bear that they, and everybody, should think people wicked because they may have chosen to live their own way!”(Hardy 318). This together with Father Times arrival intensifies her torment over the marriage dilemma.
But this is one act of duty that she can never bring herself to perform which makes it much simpler for her, after the death of her children, to return to Philotson whom she dutifully, though illogically, regards as her true husband. On the other hand, Greta is able to fulfill all of her wifely duties for Gabriel, including bearing his children. He even thinks, until he realizes her attachment to Michael, that she performs these duties blissfully. Greta plays the part of the doting ornament at his aunts party, appearing as though Gabriel were the center of her universe. As they danced Gabriel felt “proud and happy..proud of her grace and wifely carriage”(Joyce 2031).
As they are leaving, Greta “turned towards them and Gabriel saw that there was color on her cheeks and that her eyes were shining”(Joyce 2029). But it was Michael, not Gabriel, who was the reason for the expression. Despite Gretas anguish over the song and the memory it brought, she was not too distraught to attempt to stroke her husbands ego. She kissed him and said, “You are a very generous person, Gabriel”(Joyce 2032). But Gabriels joy at this attention is later crushed as it is made apparent to him that all along “she had been comparing him in her mind to another” (Joyce 2033). Gretas sense of wifely duty toward Gabriel had protected him from this knowledge all the years of their marriage.
With the truth out, Gabriel may never return to the comfortable illusion that Greta had allowed him to live him for so long. Michael may now always be a haunting presence in their marriage, and the reader is not told if Greta will favor her sense of duty to her marriage or to his memory. While Greta sleeps, recovering from the memories brought by The Lass of Aughrim, Gabriel contemplates the relationship between his wife and Michael. He realizes the enormity of Michaels love for Greta as something he “had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew such feeling must be love” (Joyce 2035). This must leave him to wonder whether Greta had felt the same for Michael or whether the love, on that level at least, was unrequited.
Greta had answered ambiguously that she had been “great with him at that time”(Joyce 2034). Gabriel wonders if she is being completely truthful. He knows that he does not love Greta the way that Michael did, but throughout their marriage he seems to have been under the delusion that her love was greater for him, than his for her. Perhaps, because of Gretas deep attachment to Michael, it was really his love for her that was unrequited. Gabriel seems confident in his role as supreme husband and lover until after Gretas confession when he looks into the mirror and sees”a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts..” (Joyce 2033-34).
The knowledge of Michael and fear of comparison has reduced him to this state of inferiority and self-doubt. This may be how Philotson felt when he found that his love for Sue was so undeniably unrequited. How damaging it must be for a mans ego to find that his wife would rather brave sleeping in a closet than with him. Philotson wonders wry, “What must a womans aversion be when it is stronger than her fear of spiders!”(Hardy 232). The poor man had normal expectations for his marriage, only to find that the mere suggestion of intimacy prompted her leap to what could have been her death. He explains to his friend Gillingham, “She jumped out the windowso strong was her dread of me!”(Hardy 241). This is the final straw and Philotson grants her a divorce.
Yet, he is not the only one to experience unrequited love. Jude does also, but definitely not to such a severe degree. Although, Sue loves Jude, she does not seem to love him enough to stay with him, at least not in the way he loves her. He wants her as a wife and she is content to go back to just friendship. “Well be dear friends just the same Jude, wont we?”(Hardy 374).
She asks him, as if Jude could so easily dissolve his romantic feelings for her. Sues only real true love appear to be her own values and moral urges, which seem to change with the tide throughout the novel. Love, with its power to create agony or ecstasy, is a dependable source of drama, whether it be for the novel or the soap opera. As we see in Jude the Obscure and The Dead, the tension of the love relationship is increased with the addition of a third party. Jude and Sues relationship may likely have been quite simpler without the presence of Philotson. He would not have been an option for Sues need to rectify the death of the children.
In fact, she may have seen marriage to Jude as the right thing to do. They may have actually gotten married and been very happy. But for some reason, Hardy did not allow this to happen. Instead, he preferred to leave the reader with the dark view of love, where there is not always a happy ending. As for Gabriel and Gretas relationship, if Greta had not told of Michael, Gabriels evening may have ended much differently. He would most likely have satisfied his lust, yet the novel would lack the epiphany Gretas confession causes him to have.
The components of guilt, duty, and unrequited love, though not universal traits, do well to maintain the complexity and efficacy of these particular love triangles.