I have been assigned to write about Lord Emsworth in "The Custody of the Pumpkin" by P.G. Wodehouse. The assignment requires writing the thoughts of Lord Emsworth just after he has fired Mr....

I have been assigned to write about Lord Emsworth in "The Custody of the Pumpkin" by P.G. Wodehouse. The assignment requires writing the thoughts of Lord Emsworth just after he has fired Mr. Mcallister from the job as head gardener. How am I supposed to write this? 

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The question of how to present the thoughts of Lord Emsworth in "The Custody of the Pumpkin" by P.G. Wodehouse after he has fired his talented head gardener Mr. Mcallister requires thinking through two issues, one rhetorical and one having to do with content.

The main rhetorical issue is whether to use first or third person. Either you could write a monologue in which Lord Emsworth speaks his thoughts, perhaps to an imaginary third person, such as his intimidating sister Lady Constance Keeble. The difficulty with using first person is that Lord Emsworth, even within his own thoughts, is rather inarticulate, especially in moments of stress. The second possibility is the actual technique used by Wodehouse himself, a form of third person narration known as "free indirect discourse" in which an omniscient third person narrator can slip into and describe the interior monologue of the character. An example of this is:

Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city's reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.

This style of writing allows for a far more articulate and entertaining narration than might be found if Freddie himself were speaking.

For the content of your essay, you should think about what sort of thoughts are most likely to go through Lord Emsworth's mind at the moment he quasi-fires the gardener. The crucial element to the situation is that it is not really an intentional firing. Lord Emsworth has tried to assert the authority that is his as the 9th Earl, and a theoretically powerful land owner. He probably expected his demand that McAllister send the girl away or be sent off himself to result in the girl being sent off, not in McAllister's immediate resignation. Wodehouse describes the aftermath of the conflict as follows:

Lord Emsworth left the battlefield with a feeling of pure exhilaration ...  No twinge of remorse did he feel ...  But that night, ... Reason, so violently expelled, came stealing timidly back ... With Angus McAllister gone, how would the pumpkin fare?

You could expand upon this by including additional thoughts about:

  • the effect of the firing on solving the problem of Freddy and the girl
  • worries about the pumpkin
  • worries about how his sisters might respond
  • the difficulties of hiring another gardener, and especially the unpleasantness of going to London to do so
  • how his rival Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, would gloat if the pumpkin was damaged and he, rather than Emsworth, won the first prize at  Shrewsbury Show
Sources:

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