Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

As in most of his comic novels, the chief appeal of Full Moon is the intricacy of Wodehouse’s plotting: mannered intrigues perpetrated by eccentric characters that result in a light comedy of errors, punctuated by misconstrued intentions and farcical situations. Thus, the “theme” of any Wodehousian novel may be summarized in this way: All’s well that ends well. In Full Moon, a number of characters—naive, pretentious, or both—lose their way, stumble further, and then regain their composure (and their dignity) by the end of the story.

These recoveries are nearly always engineered by some eccentric, scheming background character interested in seeing that young love is requited, that justice is served, and that the household returns to its dubious normality. In Wodehouse’s popular Bertie Wooster novels, this eccentric role is played out by his valet, the gentlemen’s gentleman, Jeeves. In Full Moon, the trickster and practical joker is Uncle Gally, without whom (as well as despite whom) none of the principals in the story would have settled with his true mate.

It would be a mistake, then, to find in Full Moon anything other than an anachronistic, lighthearted treatment of aristocratic romance. As one critic has observed, the success of Wodehouse’s comedies “depends upon the convention that nothing has changed since about 1905.”