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Literature / Thank You, Jeeves

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Thank You, Jeeves is a 1934 novel by P. G. Wodehouse, the first full-length work starring his characters Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. As our story opens, Bertie has succumbed to a overwhelming passion for playing the banjolele, which leads to his enraged neighbors demanding his departure from his London flat and, far more momentously, Jeeves giving his notice. Undeterred, Bertie rents a country cottage from a land-rich but cash-poor pal of his, Lord "Chuffy" Chuffnell, and retires hence with his new valet Brinkley. Things of course do not go smoothly, with Bertie quickly becoming entangled in Chuffy's would-be romance with the American beauty Pauline Stoker, to whom Bertie was previously and very briefly engaged. Not to mention Pauline's formidable father, J. Washburn Stoker, the local overzealous police force, a battling pair of half-pint menaces named Dwight and Seabury, and once again, that preeminent loonie doctor Sir Roderick Glossop, who hopes to marry Chuffy's Aunt Myrtle. Fortunately, Chuffy has retained Jeeves' services, and so he is on hand to once again bring happy endings all around.

A 1936 movie was made with the same title starring David Niven as Bertie and Arthur Treacher as Jeeves, but (except as noted below) the plot bears no resemblance to the novel or indeed any of Wodehouse's works, and was made without any input from him.


  • Amicable Exes: Bertie and Pauline were briefly engaged, and remain on good terms after breaking up.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Or sister in this case; Pauline is much older than Dwight, and they do not appear to interact at all.
  • Ax-Crazy: Brinkley, after he gets a snootful. At least some of the time, Bertie comments on what an erratic in-and-out performer he is in this department.
  • Batman Gambit: Jeeves, of course, sending a fake telegram about a supposed contesting of the will that made the Stokers suddenly rich.
  • Berserk Button: Jeeves' mode of speech really grates at Pa Washburn.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Both Stoker's son Dwight and Chuffy's young cousin Seabury; their personalities tend to clash.
    "To attempt to touch your host for one and sixpence protection money on the eve of a birthday party is the act of a fathead."
  • Blackface: A lengthy (and nowadays quite cringey) subplot wherein Bertie, who is being held prisoner on old man Stoker's yacht, disguises himself in this way in order to leave the yacht with a minstrel troupe. This becomes a problem when he can't get the boot black off. Sir Roderick, who had also donned blackface to entertain Aunt Myrtle's young son Seabury, has the same problem.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Chuffy loves Pauline, but (poorly) conceals his feelings, not wanting to come across as a fortune hunter.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The visiting minstrel troupe.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Bertie tries to move along Chuffy and Pauline's romance by engaging in the usual Operation: Jealousy, which as always goes disastrously wrong.
  • Confirmed Bachelor: As Jeeves himself puts it, "Mr Wooster is an agreeable young gentleman, but I would describe him as essentially one of Nature's bachelors."
  • Dreadful Musician: Bertie, judging from the universally-negative reactions to his banjolele-playing.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Chuffy has gone his whole life concealing that his first name is "Marmaduke." Possibly Pa Stoker as well, since he invariably goes by "J. Washburn".
  • Eye Pop: Chuffy upon seeing Pauline in Bertie's bedroom (and pajamas).
    I've seen starers in my time, many of them, but never one that came within a mile of putting up the performance which Chuffy did then. The eyebrows had shot up, the jaw had fallen, and the eyes were protruding from one to two inches from their parent sockets.
  • Faux Horrific: The most charitable interpretation of people's reactions to Bertie being in blackface.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: This occurs between Bertie and Sir Roderick. Their sudden matiness can be quite astounding to those who miss the relevant chapter of the Wooster memoirs!
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Bertie and the banjolele. He gives it up at the end of the story, with the instrument now forever linked in his mind with the homicidal Brinkley. (Plus it burned up when his cottage got set on fire.)
  • Genius Bruiser: "Genius" is probably overselling it, but Chuffy is an athletic sort and compared to most of Bertie's other friends is practically Einstein.
  • Genki Girl: Pauline. Bertie lists her rather impulsive dynamism is the main reason that he rapidly fell out of love with her.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Bertie escapes Pa Stoker's grasp in this fashion at one point.
    He pushed past me into the house, then turned and grabbed me by the shoulder.
    "Now then!" he said.
    I disengaged myself coldly. I had to wriggle out of my pajama jacket to do so, but I managed it.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Pauline is described as such by Bertie.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Glossop and Bertie finally bury the hatchet in the course of the novel.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Chuffy; his trying to sell his ancestral home to Stoker to get some cash is a major plot-point.
  • In Name Only: The 1936 film adaptation (starring David Niven and Arthur Treacher) shares the title, the names of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, the bit where Wooster annoys his neighbors practicing a loud musical instrument, and absolutely nothing else.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Chuffy puts on a martyr act thinking that Pauline still wants to marry Bertie.
  • Karma Houdini: Brinkley evidently escapes any consequences for his erratic drunken rampage, despite committing part of it in the presence of a policeman. (Apart from Chuffy giving him a Literal Ass-Kicking.)
  • Knight Templar Parent: J. Washburn Stoker locks up Bertie on his yacht in an attempt to force a marriage between Bertie and Pauline, as Stoker feels that Bertie has besmirched her honor, and thus must Do The Right Thing.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Bertie still likes Pauline well enough, and openly comments on her beauty, but no longer has the slightest desire to marry her. (Nor she him.) Unfortunately, no one believes this, including Chuffy and Pa Stoker.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Chuffy escorts a drunken Brinkley off his property in this fashion.
  • Living MacGuffin: Chuffy scoops up Jeeves the instant he learns he's available, and Stoker shows interest in hiring him as well.
  • Love at First Sight: Chuffy and Pauline.
    "I know Chuffy. A swift performer, if ever there was one. If he didn't propose to a girl by the end of the first week, he would think he was losing his grip."
  • Manly Tears: Bertie comes jolly well close to shedding these when Jeeves returns to working for him.
  • Meddlesome Patrolman: Bertie suffers from a rural version of this trope with Sergent Voules, who is constantly showing up on Bertie's doorstep.
  • Minstrel Shows: A troupe of blackface performers is discussed several times.
  • Missing Mom: There's no sign or mention of Pauline and Dwight's mother.
  • Noodle Incident: We get some of the details regarding Bertie and Pauline's very aborted engagement.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Pauline is astonished at the notion that anyone might draw the wrong inferences about finding her in Bertie's bedroom (and in his heliotrope pajamas, no less!).
  • Not with Them for the Money: Chuffy is insistent about this re: the newly wealthy Pauline.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: The Stokers are the beneficiaries of this, as a fairly distant relative leaves them his fortune due to not liking his closer relations.
  • Platonic Kissing: Bertie plants one on Pauline in an attempt to start an Operation: Jealousy with Chuffy. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't work out well.
  • Shipper on Deck: Bertie attempts to get Chuffy and Pauline paired up.
  • Shout-Out: Bertie and Pauline offer up half-remembered quotes from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan respectively.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Chuffy dons a pair of horn-rimmed glasses when officially performing his feudal duties.
  • Status Quo Is God: Of course Jeeves returns to Bertie's service at the end of the story.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Bertie gives serious contemplation about threatening to write one of these when Sergent Voules once again bangs on his door in the middle of the night, but it turns out it's actually Pa Stoker.
  • There Is Only One Bed: When Pauline (platonically) crashes at Bertie's small cottage for the night, he's forced to sleep in the potting shed.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Chuffy again, which is why he won't propose to Pauline.
  • Uncanny Valley: Bertie in blackface makeup seems to provoke this effect, being alternately mistaken for The Devil, a spirit, or at very best something you don't want popping up behind you unexpectedly.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: The newly enriched J. Washburn Stoker.