Something Fresh and P. G. Wodehouse

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The Custody of the Pumpkin

Q&A

P. G. Wodehouse

THE CUSTODY OF THE PUMPKIN

Lord Emsworth

P.G. Wodehouse is quite well-known for his portrayal of eccentric, snobbish and socially-parasitic aristocrats in his different chronicles.Lord Emsworth is the main character of the Blandings Castle Books, which are based out of the fictional Emsworth estate, of which he is supposed to be the head. Lord Emsworth is a great sample of a "Wodehouse type", which are characters that bear the unique and funny characteristics that make them so awkward. Lord Emsworth: a man whose great rank and position in the highest class of society is juxtaposed to his lack of intelligence and common sense.

A typical Wodehouse character would have a very unique or ridiculous name, imitating the very long and historical names of the old English powerhouses. Notice the employment of multiple consonants in the name for the purpose of accentuating an imperious name the way that the aristocrats would have done back in Wodehouse's society. Although Emsworth is an older man, he does not possess any of the attributes of age and maturity: He is absent-minded, prone to long sleep, and basically clueless about what goes around him with the exception with the very specific things that he loves which are his animals and his flowers. Yet the most important attribute of an Wodehouse character is their use of language. Wodehouse mixes the younger generation's Eton jargon with aristocratic snobbish words and creates a unique language for his characters. Lord Emsworth, who is an easy-going but conservative peer is characterized for his kind speech to others and his consistent use of the phrase "dash it" as his way to curse when he is mad. The qualities of ignorance and idleness are the keypoints upon which Wodehouse focuses in order to make the story a parody of the lives of the upper-class British society members. Lord Emsworth represents the idle upper-classes who live off their family names and fortunes, who attend Oxford or Cambridge merely to say that they have gone there, and who later in life become the epicenter of a shallow social circle of estate balls, hunting, or many other forms of mindless entertainment. Like his peers, Lord Emsworth is clearly a man with lots of money and very little ideas about what to do with it.

Parly due to his idle and unintelligent condition, Lord Emsworth employs endless hours into the tending of his beloved award-winning and massive pumpkin whom he named "The Hope of Blandings"; a lead competitor at the Shrewsbury plant show. Emsworth's equally worthless son, Freddie, has been around the house flirting with the daughter of Emsworth's top gardener, McAllister, thus infuriating the latter to the point of quitting his job at Blandings. The whole plot is designed to make Lord Emsworth and his son completely devoid of reason or imagination. Compared to the common folk, such as McAllister and Mr. Donaldson, the aristocrats stand out for their silliness in behavior and thought.

Also, notice how the upper-class men seem unable to do anything without the help of the common man. Lord Emsworth cannot raise his pumpkin without the intervention of his gardener, and Freddie does not seem to be able to make any useful form of employment until Mr. Donaldson shows up.

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The Custody of the Pumpkin

Q&A

P. G. Wodehouse

Therefore, the story presents the lifestyles of the rich in Post World War I England in all of its glamour and its stubborn adherence to old traditions; all this while the world outside the walls of Blandings are undergoing major social changes that, eventually, would affect the aristocrats, as a whole. McAllister and Donaldson represent that world outside the Blandings estate which can survive on their own, and is strong enough for change. Lord Emsworth and his son, contrastingly, represent the weakening upper classes who are slowly but surely deteriorating precisely for...
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