The Vicar of Wakefield

A Life of Flawed Virtue in The Vicar of Wakefield

In The Vicar of Wakefield, although Charles Primrose portrays almost flawless virtue, he retains two major flaws, pride and obstinacy, which lead to many complications in his family’s life. The Primrose family suffers from the retribution of these flaws until they are finally purged when Charles gains humility in prison.

Many times in the novel, Charles’s immense sense of pride creates problems within the Primrose family, primarily leading to their suffering. He exhibits pride in two areas: his family and his virtue. In the first pages of the novel, Charles gives an account of his pride in his offspring, noting “my sons hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and blooming” (10). Charles values his family next to God, but, consequently, this pride in them leads him to hold very high expectations for his children. Charles’s expectations of his children produce many obstacles for them to overcome. His pride affects Olivia the most, being perhaps his greatest “treasure” (120). His hopes for her marriage to Mr. Williams incite her to run away with the Squire, which in turn leads to “the honour of [the] family [being] contaminated” (88). At this point, the Vicar is more worried about the blemish on his family’s reputation than the...

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