The story opens in the country parsonage of Dr. Primrose, a kindly man who has a good heart, a good family, and a good income. Suddenly, his idyllic life is cruelly devastated by a series of misfortunes, and he ends up in prison. Yet, despite all this calamity and injustice, the vicar never loses sight of Christian morality, a conviction which lends him genuine nobility and, in the end, also brings justice and the restoration of his family and fortune. Through this simple, almost fairy-tale plot, Goldsmith gives us a charming comedy. It is not a novel of sentiment but an artful send-up of many of the familiar literary conventions of his day: the pastoral scene, the artificial romance, the unquestioning stoic bravery of the hero--all culminating, of course, in a gloriously improbable denouement.