The Vicar of Wakefield

by Oliver Goldsmith

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What is the central message of The Vicar of Wakefield?

The central message of The Vicar of Wakefield is that faith, hope, and love are rewarded, as are values such as loyalty and humility.

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The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel of sentiment, and its main message is the importance of the Christian virtues, most notably love, faith, and hope, which we are taught will be rewarded. These are exemplified in Dr. Primrose, who, despite the adversity he and his family suffer, never gives up his hope or faith in God and never stops in the quest for doing good.

Dr. Primose's brushes with adversity start with the loss of his inherited money, which he had invested with a merchant who goes bankrupt. The family has to relocate to humbler quarters. Dr. Primrose's son George was about to marry Arabella Wilmot, but once her father finds out about the bankruptcy, he calls off the wedding. Increasingly worse mishaps occur, until at one point, Sophia is abducted, Olivia is supposedly dead, and George ends up in prison.

However, through it all, the Primroses stick together. If Dr. Primrose is too gullible and trusting because of his good nature, the Primrose world is righted because of the goodness of Sir William Thornhill, the story's deus ex machina disguised as Mr. Burchell. By the end of the novel, a world that celebrates the stability of marriage is upheld through the weddings of George and Sophia, while Dr. Primrose's money is restored. Faith, love, and hope as well as family values are amply repaid with happiness and prosperity.

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