The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Jeeves is the epitome of the tradition of brilliant servants to foolish masters which goes back to classical Latin and Greek literature. Jeeves displays the most perfect mind in fiction, superior even to that of Sherlock Holmes. As Bertie observes, “Jeeves knows. How, I couldn’t say, but he knows.” Jeeves is not simply superbly intelligent; for P. G. Wodehouse’s plots to work, the valet must have sources of information denied the other characters. He is always the only one to know what is truly happening. Unlike Holmes, Jeeves resorts to lying and bribery to achieve his ends. He is everything the perpetually naive Bertie is not.

Bertie is upset when he overhears Jeeves describe him as “an exceedingly pleasant and amiable young gentleman, but not intelligent.... Mentally he is negligible quite negligible.” Bertie, however, is intelligent enough to rely on Jeeves’s judgment in most matters, considering his servant “a sort of guide, philosopher, and friend.” He possesses remarkable self-knowledge for such a ninny, agreeing with those who “look on me as rather an ass.’

Despite all this, Bertie is an admirable character. Much of his behavior derives from a strict code of conduct, and while this code is that of the privileged late Victorian schoolboy, it allows him to be modest, gracious, and magnanimous. He is unfailingly willing to devote his time and money to assist his friends. Whenever he is hesitant about helping Bingo...

(The entire section is 429 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Bertram (Bertie) Wooster

Bertram (Bertie) Wooster, a gentleman, an already confirmed bachelor in his mid-twenties, the epitome of the idle—and vacant—rich. Although Jeeves describes Bertie as “By no means intelligent,” he also acknowledges Bertie to be “an exceedingly pleasant and amiable young gentleman.” Good-natured Bertie narrates the events of this series of linked stories in a tone that is sprightly though at times faintly defensive when his role as stooge for family and friends and as the object of Jeeves’s contempt becomes obvious even to him. Despite his deplorably bad taste in clothes (a source of frequent conflict with Jeeves) and his unabashed love of his idle, luxurious, and socially unredeeming life, Bertie comes across as an innocuous young man of unflagging goodwill.


Jeeves, Bertie’s valet, a few years older than Bertie and certainly wiser. Although superbly competent in his duties as a gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves is much more; his master also regards him, with gratitude and some awe, as “a bird of the ripest intellect” and “a sort of guide, philosopher, and friend.” Jeeves often extricates Bertie, his friends, and members of his family from unpleasant personal messes; while discreetly dispensing advice and help, Jeeves himself always manages to benefit, financially and romantically. Although Jeeves’s overt manner toward his young master is one of dignified loyalty and self-effacing respect, his own superior intelligence, worldliness, and good taste are abundantly evident.

Agatha Gregson

Agatha Gregson, Bertie’s aunt. Described by her nephew as “pretty formidable,” she is a tall, commanding, gray-haired woman, sharp-nosed and gimlet-eyed. Bertie fears her and her unfailing ability to “snooter”...

(The entire section is 749 words.)