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...
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