January 2, 2008

P.G. Wodehouse's Beloved Characters: Jeeves and Wooster

Posted in Comedy, Jeeves & Wooster at 3:31 pm by j128

Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves are two of P.G. Wodehouse (pronounced wood-house) most beloved characters and are a hit with people of all ages, trust me! Many people, young and old, are familiar with the extraordinary relationship between the young bachelor and his ever-faithful valet.


Bertie Wooster is a young man who has a vast fortune inherited from one of his uncles. Despite this his formidable Aunt Agatha does not approve of his bachelor lifestyle and thinks him as a spineless invertaebrate and it is men like him “who make people with the future of humanity at heart despair”. Bertie is, according to Jeeves, “mentally negligible” but otherwise a good sport, meaning good for everyone,though, as is his reputation, a walking disaster. When Bertie cooks up a scheme anyone can be sure to see trouble following without disappointment.

Bertie Wooster

Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie)

Bertie has many “friends”, who are all one way or another rather oafish or just plain nasty, and all require Jeeves’ wonderful ideas in whatever troubles they may be suffering. Besides friends there are also, of course, the aunts and uncles. Bertie’s parents died leaving him an orphan so it was up to the various aunts and uncles to raise him. The most prominent aunts in P.G. Wodehouse’s stories are Aunt Agatha and Aunt Dahlia.

As said earlier Aunt Agatha does not approve of Bertie’s lifestyle and she is constantly trying to get Bertie married off but her plans always fail – thank Jeeves for that! Aunt Dahlia, on the other hand, is somewhat the opposite of Aunt Agatha. She loves Bertie and seems to enjoy his company at times though she does have her own temper, too, when something goes beyond her limit. Most times she also calls for Jeeves’ aid in matters, another point contrary to Aunt Agatha: Aunt Agatha does not particularly like Jeeves. She thinks Jeeves controls Bertie’s life, making decisions for him, and whatnot. But is that not what Aunt Agatha tries to do for Bertie?

Bertie has had several valets and all have been dismissed. The last valet he had before he hired Jeeves pinched his silk socks. Jeeves is the “gentleman’s gentleman” and is more than just a valet. Everybody asks for his help when it is needed and he skillfully answers the call every time. Always calm, never raises his voice, and does his duty: he is loved by everyone with the exception of Aunt Agatha and a few others. He is much smarter than Bertie and when required he pulls Bertie out of the many and various messes they both encounter throughout their adventures. Jeeves also has his preferences for dress-wear: what is suitable and what is not suitable for his master and others, too, though for the others it is not his place to say. As for Bertie, Jeeves has disapproved of purple socks, pink silk ties, a white dinner jacket, wearing a moustache, and a straw hat just to name a few of his disapprovals.

Jeeves got his name from a cricketer and is somewhat based on P.G. Wodehouse’s own valet who once saved his life from something that Mr. Wodehouse could not save himself from. The real Jeeves was said to have died during World War II when he was called up and killed in action.

Books and the Television Show

P.G. Wodehouse wrote a number of books and short stories about the adventures of Bertie and Jeeves, which are collectively known as the “Jeeves canon” or the “Jeeves books.” I have not yet read the entire canon yet, though I will here list the books featuring Bertie and Jeeves. N.B., Some of these titles are available as omnibuses, such as the Jeeves and Wooster Omnibus starring The Mating Season, The Code of the Woosters, and Right Ho, Jeeves! with an introduction by Hugh Laurie. (The introduction is exactly the same as the article listed below by Hugh Laurie; the introduction is quite enjoyable such as Hugh Laurie describing how, during his teen years, he “somehow contrived to pull off the gruesome trick of being both fat and thin at the same time.”)

  1. The Man with Two Left Feet
  2. My Man Jeeves
  3. The Inimitable Jeeves (US title: Jeeves)
  4. Carry On, Jeeves
  5. Very Good, Jeeves
  6. Thank You, Jeeves
  7. Right Ho, Jeeves (US title: Brinkley Manor)
  8. Joy in the Morning (US title: Jeeves in the Morning)
  9. The Mating Season
  10. Ring for Jeeves (US title: The Return of Jeeves)
  11. Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (US title: Bertie Wooster Sees it Through)
  12. A Few Quick Ones
  13. Jeeves in the Offing (US title: How Right You Are, Jeeves)
  14. Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
  15. Plum Pie
  16. Much Obliged, Jeeves (US title: Jeeves and the Tie That Binds)
  17. Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (US title: Catnappers)

Besides the books there is the much popular television series Jeeves and Wooster starring Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves. Most wonderful! Wonderful acting, brilliant dialogue, and witty plots. It made four seasons all of which are now available on DVD and VHS. If you’ve never seen the series you simply must! Everyone will get great enjoyment out of it! And if you’ve read their adventures before in all the books listed above, even better; but if not, reading the books is not required before watching the series. However, do still read the books for they contain their own enjoyment that cannot always be captured on the screen. Stephen Fry was said to be a bit too young for the role and that Hugh Laurie almost exaggerated Bertie’s character too much as he does have some sense in the books and not always having to rely on Jeeves – in Bertie’s words, chaa! Their acting is the best of the best and they completely play their characters – never once does one think of them as Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie: they’re Jeeves and Wooster!

As well as the series being available on DVD and VHS, various episodes, albiet being disorganized, can be found on YouTube here. There are also related videos containing Jeeves and Wooster content.

Favourite Quotes from the Television Series Jeeves and Wooster (of course there are more favourite quotes than those listed – this is just in general)

“A gentleman does not wear a straw hat in the metropolis.” – Jeeves, commenting upon Bertie’s choice of fashion

“Hello. Who am I? I am Jeeves. _ What do you mean, “I think not?” _ Oh, yes. I see, I see. Good bye.” – One of Bertie’s friends, specifically Barmy, impersonating Jeeves upon Bertie’s request over the telephone and realizing he was talking with the real Jeeves.

“I say! I say! You’re engaged.” – Bertie after instantly being cured of his heavy hangover by the newly-arrived valet Jeeves’s medicine.

“Hello. Why are you holding hands? Is this an English custom?” – Jeeves impersonating an American female novelist who comes across Bertie and Cheesewright (a rival) caught in the gesture of shaking hands.

“It’s about time some publicly-spirited person told you where to get off. The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you’ve succeeded in convincing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting, “Hail, Spode!” and you imagine it’s the voice of the people. That is where you make you’re bloomer. What the voice of the people is actually saying is, “Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever see such a perfect perisher?” I know your secret, Spode!” – Bertie, confronting and at the same time, insulting Roderick Spode, a fascist leader and Count of Sidcup.

“And to prove it, I will eat a ham thandwith.” – Augustus “Gussie” Fink-Nottle, breaking his engagement to Madeline Bassett by eating a ham sandwitch: Madeline had put Gussie on a strict vegetarian diet yet she still ate meat, even though it was torture. Gussie lisps as does Madeline Bassett.

“She’s like a tender goddess!” – Richard “Bingo” Little referring to Honoria Glossop, the forced intended of Bertie. Bingo falls in and out of love with several women throughout the series until at last he finds his true love.

Favourite Dialogue Scenes

Bingo: “Bertie!”

Bertie: “Bingo!”

Bingo: “She telephoned!”

Bertie: “She telephoned you, eh? That’s good, shows some friendly spirit.”

Bingo: “Well, she didn’t phone me exactly; when I picked up the phone, I was standing beside it.”

Bertie: “What’d she say?”

Bingo: “She said, “Let me talk to someone with a brain.” “

Bertie: “Ah.”

Bingo: “But it was friendly, the way she said it.”

Hororia’s younger brother Oswald begins to giggle. Bingo promptly hits him with a book on the head.

Oswald: “Ow!”

Bingo: “Go and start your Latin!”


Sir Roderick Glossop: “Do you keep a cat, Mr. Wooster?”

Bertie: “Cats? No.”

Sir Roderick: “I had the distinct impression I heard a cat mewing either in this room or close at hand.”

Bertie: “Oh, well, probably a taxi or something in the street.”

Lady Glossop: “A taxi, Mr. Wooster?”

Bertie: “Yes, well. Taxis do squawk a bit, don’t they?”

Lady Glossop: “Squawk?”

Bertie: “Yes, well, like cats in a way.”

Sir Roderick: “Lady Glossop and I have a particular horror of cats.”

Bertie: “Oh well, there you go, then. Probably don’t much like taxis.” (Laughs)

Lady Glossop: “My huband had an unfortunate experience with a taxi only this afternoon.”

Sir Roderick: “Indeed I did. I was about to be driven to the Duke of (?)’s house – “

Bertie: “Or cage as I expect he likes to call it.”

Sir Roderick: “Anyways, I was sitting innocently in my car when my hat was snatched from my head. And as I looked back I perceived to be waved in a kind of feverish triumph from the interior of a taxicab!”

Bertie: “Huh! What an extraoridary thing. Must be some sort of practical joke, I suppose.”

Sir Roderick: “I confess I failed to detect anything to accomodate in the outrage. The action without question was that of a mincely unbalanced subject. Mr. Wooster! What is the meaning of this?”

Bertie: “Eh?”

Sir Roderick: “There is a cat close at hand! It is not in the street!”

Bertie: “Look, I have not got a cat, I tell you. All right, I’ll get Jeeves in here!” (Rings bell.)

Sir Roderick: “There it is again!”

Lady Glossop: “I can’t bear it! I simply can’t bear it!”

Bertie: “No, look, it must be Jeeves.”

Sir Roderick: “Jeeves?”

Jeeves: “You called, sir?”

Sir Roderick: “Um, uh, um, why were you making a noise like a cat?”

Jeeves: “No, sir. Will that be all, sir?”

Bertie: “No, it will jolly not be all, Jeeves. Are there any cats in the flat?”

Jeeves: “Only the three in your bedroom, sir.”



To read more about P.G. Wodehouse, his characters, and books click the following links:

Bibliography of P.G. Wodehouse – Including the Jeeves canon, Blandings Castle, the Psmith series, and others.

P.G. Wodehouse’s biography– Answers.com

Stephen Fry discussing P.G. Wodehouse

Hugh Laurie discussing how P.G. Wodehouse saved his life

“In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse” by George Orwell, an essay

An episode guide of the television series Jeeves and Wooster, books, music, interviews, and more.

P.G. Wodehouse on Project Gutenberg


1 Comment »

  1. Miss Kitty In The City said,

    LOVE HUGH LAURIE! Do you know he also wrote a book called, ” The Gun Seller”? I wish he would write more. I am looking forward to seeing Wooster and Jeeves!

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