"I was sent by the agency, sir. I was given to understand that you required a valet."

"Jeeves Takes Charge"

These two sentences introduce us to Jeeves, one of Wodehouse's most famous creations and the archetypal gentleman's personal gentleman.

Health warning

Beware! Although Jeeves has worked as a butler, calling him one could damage your health, as nothing infuriates a Wodehouse fan more. Steal his cash and he will disdain the loss. Steal his wife and he may not even notice her absence. But call Jeeves a "butler" and he becomes a raving frothing-at-the-mouth loony, with the homicidal tendencies of Jack the Ripper.
You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound.

Jeeves and Bertie Wooster are as famous a pairing as Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, or Mister Pickwick and Sam Weller, and follow the same literary tradition: the obsessed, unworldly, or intellectually-challenged master and his faithful, cunning, worldly-wise servant. But Jeeves is a more complex character than such comparisons might suggest. Unlike Sam Weller, whom we cannot imagine acting so as to embarrass or upset Mister Pickwick, Jeeves is not averse to causing his employer acute embarrassment, discomfort, even physical pain, if that is what his plan requires; indeed, we might say that Jeeves's motto is "the end justifies the means". That is not to say that Jeeves does not extricate Bertie from some tricky situations, merely to suggest that he often seems to take pleasure in aggravating Bertie's predicament. And there are those who would argue that in contriving to "rescue" Bertie from yet another emotional entanglement, Jeeves is less concerned with Bertie's love life than with securing his own employment.

Jeeves is sent by the agency after Bertie has sacked his previous valet, Meadowes, whom he had discovered was stealing his silk socks. When he arrives, Bertie is suffering from a hangover, and his first action is to prepare a pick-me-up of his own invention; so effective is this hangover cure that Bertie hires him on the spot.

The relationship between master and servant—and it is not always clear which is which!—is not an untroubled one. Jeeves frequently takes exception to Bertie's taste in clothes, but what nearly causes a permanent parting of the ways—in Thank You, Jeeves—is Bertie's fondness for playing the banjolele, a habit which causes Jeeves to resign his position. Sadly (at least from the banjolele's point of view), the instrument perishes in a fire, and Jeeves is able to resume his proper place.

Although it seems reasonable to suppose that Jeeves has possessed a first name since he was christened, neither Bertie nor his readers learn what it is until the penultimate tale involving the pair, Much Obliged, Jeeves, when Bertie is stunned to hear Jeeves addressed with "Hullo, Reggie". While Bertie is understandably surprised to discover that Jeeves's first name is Reginald, what seems to astonish him more is that Jeeves actually has a first name at all.

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