P G Wodehouse created an epic combination when he put Jeeves and Wooster together. Jeeves being the perfect valet, philosopher and guide to the good-hearted, bumbling and rather foolish English Gentleman Bertie Wooster.
Wooster, being a Lily in the field, could afford to be idle and have inane preoccupations. His Man Friday who saved him all the mess he got into was Jeeves. The trick was in the convoluted plot that invariably had a rather neat ending to it. Am re-reading it all over again – nearly a couple of decades after I read them as a teenager.Embed from Getty Images
Wooster is a nice good fella who is generous, naïve, foolish and pompous. Such a combination along with him being as weak as water in character with odd ideas about chivalry and playing a white knight to damsels in apparent distress provides a great field for excitement and troubles.
He is perpetually caught in women related issues – getting around troublesome engagements that invariably happen in his life, managing the demands of his various aunts who range from domineering characters to lovable ones and helping other assorted friends and acquaintances provides the picture.
Now life wouldn’t be interesting if there wasn’t the divine intervention of Jeeves who is an expert of many things particularly understanding social dynamics and psychology of the individual especially the Ladies. He often extricates Wooster from tricky situations by often implying that his poor Master is not quite right in his head. Indeed Wooster’s indignation at such affront should not be looked as being correct given that he is quite often in hot water and asking for it.
Wooster enthusiasms delight us – often he tries to play an amateur psychologist himself and initiates ham-handed plans that lead to interesting and painful fiascos. The tempo is slowly built on lines on losing himself in the quick-sand. And finally we reach a stage where any effort by him to solve the issue results is more and more hilarious complications. The stage is now set for Jeeves to step in and get redemption for his young Lord. Jeeves seems to work in mysterious ways and at times his plans seem crazy as well – all the same the final outcome is gratifying as we get to an ‘all-is-well-that-ends-well’ finale.
The world of Jeeves and Wooster is lost to us for generations now. The modern world is all about egalitarianism and open competition. Endangered species like Wooster would need a special protection that no one is quite willing to provide in the modern world. Jeeves, even if he were to exist, would have looked at Wooster with disdain and thought that he could do better things in life than serving such a Gentleman.
So as Evelyn Waugh famously note, ‘Mr. Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.’ Quite prescient of him to anticipate the hazards of the modern-day life. And yes I recommend anyone who wants to improve his command of English to read Wodehouse – be it the vocabulary or the idiomatic usage of the Queen’s language. And Wooster does useful a bit of awful slang – let us regard it as an added bonus to it, shall we say.