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Dr. Charles Primrose

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Dr. Charles Primrose, the vicar of Wakefield, “a priest, an husbandman, and the father of a family.” He is generous, kindly, honest, and given to strong opinions (as on monogamy). A homely philosopher, he admonishes his wife and daughters on their vanity, warns them against Squire Thornhill (who later takes him in), urges them to be temperate, and frequently delivers himself of wise saws and modern instances, all the while remaining a good-hearted fool who is easily duped by villains. His fortitude is amazing during his train of calamities. He is so completely a good man that he is lovable despite his frequent gullibility and his occasional absurdity.

Deborah Primrose

Deborah Primrose, his wife, an ambitious woman whose chief interest is in getting her daughters well married. She is vain and, through George, she seeks vengeance on Olivia’s betrayer.

George Primrose

George Primrose, the oldest son. Bred at Oxford for one of the learned professions, he (somewhat like the author himself) tries various occupations, succeeding at none. Through Squire Thornhill, he obtains an army commission. George at long last marries Arabella.

Sophia (Sophy) Primrose

Sophia (Sophy) Primrose, the younger daughter, soft, modest, and alluring, a girl whose beauty increases upon better acquaintance. She marries Sir William Thornhill.

Olivia (Livy) Primrose

Olivia (Livy) Primrose, the older daughter, strikingly and luxuriantly beautiful, open, sprightly, commanding, and coquettish. Deceived by Squire Thornhill, she elopes with him and is deserted shortly afterward. She suffers remorse, especially when she learns that her marriage apparently was false. Later, learning that she is not the fallen woman she thought herself, she recovers and even offers to consider forgiving her betrayer if he reforms.

Mr. Burchell

Mr. Burchell, in reality Sir William Thornhill, the uncle of Squire Thornhill. Sir William is famed for his great generosity and whimsicality. An experienced observer and judge of people, he is a self-admitted humorist and eccentric. Fond of children, he is very popular with them. After aiding various members of the Primrose family several times, he reveals himself, helps to bring happiness to the whole family, and marries Sophia.

Squire Thornhill

Squire Thornhill, Dr. Primrose’s landlord and Olivia’s betrayer. He is a handsome, unscrupulous rake. Guilty of multiple villainies, he is exposed before he is able to bring utter ruin on the Primrose family and also before he is able to marry Arabella and gain control of her fortune.

Arabella Wilmot

Arabella Wilmot, who is betrothed to George. She is the daughter of a neighboring clergyman. After Olivia’s seduction and desertion and George’s long absence, Arabella plans to marry the squire, who convinces her that George has married and gone to America. She learns of the deception just in time and...

(The entire section contains 720 words.)

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Critical Essays