The plot of Full Moon, filled with Wodehouse’s trademark schemes and counterschemes, completely overshadows its cast of stock characters. The Blandings estate had been used serially in at least twelve previous novels and many more after that. Consequently, Wodehouse wrote Full Moon for a group of readers who needed no introduction to the propensities and predicaments of its protagonists and antagonists. In this, he indeed seems to have been the precursor of the “situation comedy,” creating a hunger in the public for the next round of adventures for a familiar crew of eccentrics, ne’er-dowells, and young lovers.
Wodehouse populates Full Moon with distinctively snobbish, slightly anti-intellectual characters often laden with colorful, preposterous names. “Freddie Threepwood” and “Tipton Plimsoll” exemplify his penchant for calling attention to the pretentiousness of the ladies and gentlemen of high society. Their improbable surnames accentuate the frequent silliness of the social situations into which Wodehouse places them; they invite the reader to treat their actually minor travails as major trials with mock-heroic seriousness.
The fulcrum of the story is, nevertheless, the endearing Lord Emsworth, an increasingly senile country gentleman—a widower who has nothing better to do with his time than observe the tribulations of his fellow gentry and raise prize pigs and pumpkins. He is utterly self-effacing, bossed about by his sisters and their spouses and offspring, yet always somehow in the middle of an adventure. Wodehouse never patronizes this elderly gentleman, however, and is clearly charmed by his aloof perspective above the commotion of relatives all about him.
As gentle as Wodehouse is in mocking the foibles of the aristocracy, he is merciless in his parodying of obstinate American businessmen and their cocky sons “on tour” of the British Isles. American “efficiency” and paranoia are satirically focused in Tipton Plimsoll, the stereotypical brash American, fond of tweaking the social etiquette of British society while pursuing what he wants at all cost.
In the end, with few exceptions, Wodehouse’s characters manifest no depth and reflect no serious development. The Lord Emsworth of a 1910 novel has neither aged nor matured by his appearance in a 1950 novel. They serve as counters and placeholders amid the comic situations and predicaments created by Wodehousian wit.