The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The characters of Leave It to Psmith are deliberate stereotypes, but they are drawn with such precision and clarity, with such comic whimsy, that they are memorable in their own right. Psmith himself, for example, is the perfect embodiment of the Edwardian gentleman. He dresses impeccably, speaks with grammatical precision, and conducts himself with irreproachable panache. There is, in fact, something of the decadent in him, a distaste for the disagreeable in life that makes him at first glance merely superficial and brings him dangerously close to being irrelevant. Yet at the same time, he is resourceful. He survives by being always unperturbed: nothing irritates him, no turmoil ever ruffles his clothes or his grammar. Psmith’s self-assurance is his hallmark. It is applied even to validate his most trivial accomplishments, making him truly incomparable. In proposing to Eve, for example, he recommends himself to her by listing among his fine points his ability to perform card tricks and, what he believes to be an irresistible asset, his skill at reciting Rudyard Kipling’s “Gunga Din.”

As for Eve Halliday, she is bright, clever, and as honest as Psmith is self-assured. She is one of those classic heroines who enjoy their independent minds, who can see things clearly yet feel deeply. She is attracted to the irritating charm of Psmith and is repelled by the dull, the commonplace, the unfeeling shallowness of Freddie Threepwood and his kind....

(The entire section is 417 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ronald Eustace Psmith

Ronald Eustace Psmith, a clever, charming aristocrat who has left the family fish business to seek employment. Very tall and very thin, Psmith (the p is silent) is a solemn young man who wears a top hat, morning coat, and monocle. He travels to Blandings Castle by train with Lord Emsworth, who has mistaken Psmith for Ralston McTodd, a fashionable poet invited to Blandings by Lady Constance, Lord Emsworth’s sister. Psmith encourages the mistaken identity because he knows that Eve Halliday, a pretty girl he has just met and with whom he has fallen in love, is also going to Blandings, to catalog Lord Emsworth’s library. While traveling to Blandings, Psmith is approached by Freddie Threepwood, Lord Emsworth’s son, and asked if he will steal Lady Constance’s diamond necklace. Because Psmith knows and likes the Jacksons, whom the theft will benefit, he agrees to help in this scheme. After many comic complications, Psmith finally obtains the necklace and Eve’s love. He accepts a position as Lord Emsworth’s private secretary.

Eve Halliday

Eve Halliday, the young, attractive heroine. Eve is retained to catalog the library at Blandings and finds herself attracted to Psmith. She soon learns from a girlfriend, however, that he is not Ralston McTodd, the poet, as he claims. She proceeds cautiously until she discovers his real identity and motivation.


Clarence, the ninth earl of Emsworth, owner of Blandings Castle. Somewhat doddering and constantly preoccupied with his cherished flowers, Lord Emsworth is also prone to misplace his glasses. Lunching at his club one day with poet Ralston McTodd, whom he sees only dimly without his glasses, Lord Emsworth chatters on about his running battle with his gardener over the proper care of his...

(The entire section is 756 words.)