The Vicar of Wakefield

Main characters

Revd Dr Charles Primrose

He is the vicar in the title, and the narrator of the story. He presents one of the most harmlessly simple and unsophisticated yet also ironically complex figures ever to appear in English fiction. He has a mild, forgiving temper, as seen when he forgives his daughter Olivia with open arms. He is a loving husband and a father of six healthy, blooming children. However, though he usually has a sweet, benevolent temper, he can sometimes be a bit silly, stubborn, or vain. For instance, he is obsessed with a particularly obscure, and not very important, matter of church doctrine. One of his "favorite topics", he declares, is matrimony, and explains that he is proud of being "a strict monogamist." He tactlessly adheres to his "principles" in the face of a violent disagreement with the neighbor who was soon to become his son's father-in-law: he "...was called out by one of my relations, who, with a face of concern, advised me to give up the dispute, at least till my son's wedding was over." However, he angrily cries that he will not "relinquish the cause of truth," and hotly says, "You might as well advise me to give up my fortune as my argument." This is ironic, as he immediately finds out that his fortune is actually almost nothing. This makes Mr. Wilmot break off the intended marriage with Mr. Primrose's son George and Miss Arabella Wilmot, and thus his son's happiness is almost shattered. He is sometimes proud of what he fancies is his ability at arguing, and often misjudges his family's supposed friends and neighbors. However, despite all his faults, he is affectionate, faithful, loving, patient, and essentially good-natured.

Deborah Primrose

Dr Charles Primrose's wife. She is faithful, if still rather independent-minded. She has some vanity of her own, however: she has a "passion" for clothes, and is seen making a "wash" (a sort of lotion) for her girls. She is also eager to see her daughters splendidly married, and this ambition sometimes blinds her. Dr Charles Primrose refers to her wife as "a good-natured notable woman; and as for breeding, there were few country ladies who could shew (show) more. She could read any English book without much spelling, but for pickling, preserving, and cookery, none could excel her." She is even prouder of her children than her husband, especially her beautiful girls.

Olivia and Sophia Primrose

Their father originally wished to name each after their aunt Grissel, but other considerations prevented him. They are affectionate, generally dutiful daughters. Of his daughters, the vicar claims, "Olivia...had that luxuriancy of beauty with which painters generally draw Hebe; open, sprightly, and commanding . . . Sophia's features were not so striking at first; but often did more certain execution; for they were soft, modest, and alluring. The one vanquished by a single blow, the other by efforts successfully repeated...Olivia wished for many lovers, Sophia to secure one. Olivia was often affected from too great a desire to please. Sophia even represt (repressed) excellence from her fears to offend. They both alike reflect their father's nature of being good-hearted, though prone to occasional fault; Olivia runs away with Mr. Thornhill in a rush of impetuous passion, and even the more sensible Sophia joins in with making "a wash" for herself and dressing up in fancy clothes.

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.