The protagonist and narrator of the novel, the vicar is virtuous, intelligent, moral, and religious. Though he has great pride in his family, he does not possess much worldly wisdom. He is often deceived by the appearances and behavior of those around him. He has a difficult time with the many misfortunes his family suffers, but learns the value of fortitude by the novel's end. He is sometimes referred to as Dr. Primrose.
The vicar's wife, Deborah Primrose is smart and independent, but given over to vanity and pretensions to a higher social status. She is particularly prideful of her daughters.
The vicar's eldest son, George Primrose is an educated but naive young man. His journey into the wider world produces no great success, but does confirm his virtue and good character.
The vicar's eldest daughter, Olivia Primrose is extremely vain, and concerned with her social status. Her reputation is nearly ruined through her relationship with Squire Thornhill, and she ends up consumed by guilt and resentment over it.
The vicar's second eldest daughter, Sophia Primrose is less vapid than her sister is, but also cares for her social status. She falls in love with the (seemingly) penniless Mr. Burchell, who is impressed with her modesty and virtue.
The vicar's second eldest son, Moses Primrose is kind but gullible.
Dick Primrose is one of the vicar's two young sons.
Bill Primrose is one of the vicar's two young sons.
Initially introduced as a handsome and intelligent, though penniless young man, Mr. Burchell is eventually revealed to be a disguise behind which Sir William Thornhill hides. Through this disguise, he and Sophia fall in love, and marry after he reveals his true identity.
Sir William Thornhill's reputation rests on his having led a profligate youth but having reformed. Indeed, Burchell's virtue and wisdom - which is doubted by the Primrose family after they suspect him of sabotaging their plans to send the girls to town - make sense when he finally reveals his true identity.
The Primrose family's young, handsome, and roguish landlord, who tricks his way into the family's confidence and then seduces Olivia. It turns out that he has conned several women in this way, leaving them to work as prostitutes after having his way with them. Eventually, his plan to ensnare the Wilmot fortune through marriage to Arabella is foiled. Nephew to Sir William Thornhill.
A scoundrel and a trickster, Jenkinson bilks the vicar and Moses out of their horses before later reforming to act as the vicar's confidante and assistant in prison. At this point, he reveals how much work he performs for Squire Thornhill, and is discovered to be young and attractive when not covered by disguise.
One of the Primrose's neighbors, Solomon is a friendly and honorable man.
the Miss Flamboroughs
Solomon Flamborough's two daughters, and neighbors to the Primrose family. They are slighted by the Primrose girls for being too low-class, despite their sweetness.
George's fiancee at the beginning of the novel, Arabella Wilmot is elegant and modest. Even after she is fooled into accepting Squire Thornhill's marriage proposal later in the novel, she remains devoted to George. She is an heiress to a large fortune.
Arabella's father, who initially prevents the marriage between Arabella and George after being insulted by the vicar's opinions of marriage, and learning about the vicar's loss of fortune. Proud of his wealth and blustering, he later accepts George as an adequate son-in-law.
The wealthy master of the house where the vicar has lunch after accepting the invitation of Mr. Arnold's butler, who is pretending to be the master. Mr. Arnold is also Arabella Wilmot's uncle.
Mrs. Arnold is Mr. Arnold's wife and Arabella's aunt.
Lady Blarney is one of the fashionable ladies the Squire brings to the Primrose family to impress them. She later turns out to be a disreputable and abandoned lady of the town.
Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs
Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs is one of the fashionable ladies the Squire brings to the Primrose family to impress them. She later turns out to be a disreputable and abandoned lady of the town.
Farmer Williams is a kind and amiable neighbor of the Primrose family. Knowing he has feelings for Olivia, Deborah uses him as leverage to push the Squire into proposing to her. After this scheme fails, Farmer Williams and Olivia are engaged until she runs away.
The Arnold family servant pretends to be Mr. Arnold himself, and invites the vicar to lunch at the house, where he reveals radical political opinions. When the vicar pleads for Mr. Arnold not to fire him, the butler acts as an ally to the vicar.
Sir William Thornhill
Sir William Thornhill is uncle to Squire Thornhill. He spends most of the novel disguised as Mr. Burchell. See "Mr. Burchell" for more information.
A friend of Squire Thornhill, the chaplain makes vague overtures to Sophia that alarm the vicar, but which Sophia resists in favor of Mr. Burchell.
The feeder is one of Squire Thornhill's reprobate friends.
The hermit is a character in the ballad that Mr. Burchell sings. In the song, the hermit is a lover who rediscovers the woman he left.
The gypsy passes the Primrose family one day, and tells the fortunes of Sophia and Olivia, convincing them that they will both marry about their station.
the company manager
The company manager of the acting company hires George as an actor, which helps him reunite with the vicar.
Mr. Cripse is a veritable slave-driver, hiring poor English men to work as indentured servants overseas. George almost works for him, but thinks better of it.
Timothy Baxter is one of Squire Thornhill's reprobate minions, and the man whom Ephraim Jenkinson fetches to testify to the squire's devious ways.
see "the vicar"
The Vicar of Wakefield Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Vicar of Wakefield is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Squire Thornhill? Thornhill is Sir William's nephew, and the Primrose family's landlord. He is described as young, handsome, and a bit of a rogue. Thornhill makes it a habit of ruining young women, leaving them ruined. He planned to marry Arabella...
The vicar was fooled when the merchant with whom he'd invested his money ran off with the lot of it..... he'd given up his salary believing himself financially secure..... and now he had nothing. In addition, his son's future father-in-law,...