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A Multi-dimensional Representation of the Mid-Eighteenth Century England: The Vicar of Wakefield

Kubra Baysal


Published in 1766, The Vicar of Wakefield: A Tale is the only novel by Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith, who starts his literary adventure as a hack writer. Reflecting the story through the parson’s point of view in retrospection with his memories depicting the idyllic life and subsequent misfortunes he experiences with his family, the novel catches the soul of the eighteenth century readers and the following ones with its sentimental and moralistic elements taking them back to the sphere of human nature. Despite the contradicting ideas on the work that it is thought “to be both a success and a failure, satiric and sentimental, coherent and disunified” all at the same time (Merritt 3), carrying not only the reminiscence of the writer’s personal life but also projecting the mid-eighteenth century England with references to different aspects of life, the novel receives popularity “for its gentle irony, and for its wisdom as well as its sense of absurdity” (Jeffares 6). This paper will focus on The Vicar of Wakefield through its thematic and stylistic qualities, representative aspects of the eighteenth century England, namely literary, social and political elements clearly observed within narration and Goldsmith’s distinct satirical style, which pave the way for the novel through centuries up to the modern readers as an amalgam of different influences and traditions.


Oliver Goldsmith; eighteenth century English novel; English society; human nature

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