The Deserted Village Questions and Answers
by Oliver Goldsmith

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What was the myth that surrounds the village schoolmaster in "The Deserted Village"?

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The village schoolmaster is a legend in his own lifetime. He has a fearsome reputation among his students, who are so petrified of him that they laugh at his jokes, even though they don't find them in the least bit funny.

The adults of the village are no less impressed, astonished as they are at the schoolmaster's remarkable ability to survey fields. This was an especially important skill to have in those days, as during this time, increasingly large plots of public land were being sold off to wealthy landowners.

The "rustics," or the common village-folk, are impressed by the schoolmaster's wide vocabulary. The schoolmaster is even so learned that he engages in contentious theological debate with the local vicar (though he tends to be on the losing side).

All in all, the village schoolmaster cut a pretty impressive figure in his heyday. But that was then, this is now. For as the speaker returns to the now deserted village of his youth after all these years, he gives the impression that this larger than life character, this big fish in an incredibly small pond, was so different from other people in the village that there was almost something mythical about him.

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