Monday, 15 June 2009

On Jeeves and on Wooster.

As I've worked this week I've been listening to far too much P.G Wodehouse. Most notably, the Jeeves stories. I find the two characters especially interesting. Here are two people who, in an almost Buddhist way, have found their path; their calling in life.

As Jeeves repeatedly exercises his intellect and supreme cunning we are forced to wonder, as does Bertie, why he spends his time pressing the young master's trousers. Similarly, we find ourselves with mixed feelings about Bertie. He is, without a doubt, a "good egg", but the lazy, foppish upper class twit he is jarrs with our modern ideals.

I find it interesting that the modern capitalist in me frowns upon Jeeves, for possessing such potential- and ignoring it in favour of Bertie's trifling problems. Nowadays we are judged on our position, achievements or wealth- and those who do not choose to climb the ladder, despite obvious skill, rub us the wrong way. As Master Wooster himself remarks; Jeeves should be prime minister by now.
In the same vein we (as modern Wodehouse readers) frown on Bertie Wooster for "not doing anything" with his vast wealth. Despite his admirable, yet stupid, character we resent all those who have not earned their money - and especially those not spending it on something appropriate.

I find both these characters very comforting. Jeeves does not "know his place" in the world- he is not forced to be a valet, he simply enjoys it. Despite intellect that could have him heading multinationals, he spends his time serving tea and mending socks. This is because he likes mending socks. He likes tea, and he enjoys serving. Similarly, Bertie likes lunching at the Drones Club, smoking cigars and having the odd whiskey and soda brought to him after dinner.

For various reasons this pair should be distasteful to our eyes- but Wodehouse forces us to see them differently. Who are we to complain if Jeeves wants to waste his talents on Bertie, and who are we to complain if Bertie wants to waste his money on Cigars? Who were we to complain that a valet should not get above his station, and who were we to moan that a young master should be a captain of industry, or a regiment.
Our modern, or dated ideals of how the world should work are all totally lost on Jeeves and Wooster, and so much the better.

Carry on gentlemen!


Ps: I had a dream last night that the cast of Harry Potter met up again when they were 35- now being divorced, bankrupt and/or addicted to crystal meth. It totally rocked.