Dr. Vilbert: Character Analysis in - Jude The Obscure

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       An itinerant quack doctor. Hardy has introduced this minor character of Dr. Vilbert to provide the reader with something to humour him and give him some relief from the gloomy atmosphere created by the successive frustrations and non-realization of ambitions by Jude the hero. He moves among the rural population around the Village Marygreen. He avoids the limelight to prevent the authorities from holding probing investigations into his illegal activities. He is no capitalist and he cannot widen the scope of his activities utilizing wide publicity for his products. He walks about to meet his prospective clients.

      His pretense to knowledge and sources of information. This quack does not confine his activities to the dispensing of sure panacea for all ailments but volunteers information to others on all topics under the sun. He tells Jude that even the sons of the washermen working in the Christminster colleges can talk "Dog-Latin" and Cat-Latin". He also tells him that those who want to go in for ecclesiastical training learn Greek to facilitate the understanding of the New Testament in its original. Probably the quack does not know that there was a language called "Hebrew.

      Jude was tricked by him to become his publicity agent. Jude wanted Some Latin and Greek Grammar books which Dr. Vilbert promised to give him on condition that Jude did some publicity work for Dr. Vilbert's golden ointments, life drops, and female pills that infallibly cured all disorders of the alimentary canal, and provided relief from asthma and shortness of breath. Jude does his part of the contract but the quack doctor backs out of his promise. Jude gets the first experience of disappointment that plagues him throughout his life. He diagnoses certain symptoms of Arabella as those of pregnancy which helps her to compel Jude to marry her.

      The secret of retaining youthful features. Dr. Vilbert retains his youthful features even after a long time. He reveals to Arabella that the secret of youth in him is the regularity he practices in taking his pills that had been duly stamped with Government Seal testifying its efficacy. He advises her to take them herself. She does so. She also buys a love-philter used by the sages of yore with great effect. He makes her believe that the distillation of a dove's heart is one of its ingredients. Arabella buys it.

      Dr. Vilbert's successful strategy. Arabella the coarse woman with great voluptuousness administers the love-philter to the Doctor who takes the maximum advantage of it by making love to her and telling her unabashedly "Shame on thee to wreck a heart so!" Arabella wanted someone to be her support in case anything happened to Jude whose health was deteriorating day by day. Therefore Vilbert comes to her as a kind of stand-by lover.

      Humour and relief from tension. The continuous frustration of Jude may be dispiriting to the reader also. Hence Hardy introduces Dr. Vilbert as an interesting specimen of the class of quack doctors who were very much in evidence in rural England of those days. He amuses us by his tall claims for his products as well as by blatant "terminological inexactitudes" such as the claim that Jude had been a pupil of his and that he had taught him Latin and Greek. On the whole, the character of Dr. Vilbert is clear proof of Hardy's ability for realistic portrayal.

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