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Posts Tagged ‘Constance’

In an earlier post on the same topic, we had considered a wide range of women who dot the Plumsville landscape. Here are some who happen to play the roles of loving as well as obdurate aunts and seniors.

It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.

(Bertie Wooster)

 

 

 

Aunt Agatha 

To residents of Plumsville, she needs no introduction. She is the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth. When she issues orders, one simply fulfills them, there being no court of appeal.

Generally formidable in appearance, Aunt Agatha is five-foot-nine, with a beaky nose, an eagle eye, and a lot of grey hair. The mere fact that she brings up someone like Thos, her son – a fiend in human shape – is sufficient to reveal that she has nerves of chilled steel.

When it comes to Bertie Wooster, Aunt Agatha calls the shots, making him an expert at sliding down water pipes or even going off across the Atlantic so as to escape her wrath. Towards the end of The Mating Season, one finds Bertie apparently mustering up the courage to stand up to her.

She is a matchmaker who never quite gives up on Bertie, who has been intimidated by her since he was young. However, partly thanks to Jeeves’ cunning, her plans invariably fail. In Pearls Mean Tears, the party of the other part proves to be a thief, leaving her red-faced. In Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, the presence of cats in Bertie’s bedroom scratches his fixture with Honoria Glossop, thereby saving him from the gallows.

If it is a matter of protecting saving family, Bertie is often her favoured nephew to go to. In Extricating Young Gussie, he is sent off to New York to ensure that a cousin does not marry beneath the family’s stature.

She does not approve of family matters being placed in the hands of a menial like Jeeves. We even get to meet her pet dog McIntosh, an Aberdeen terrier, in one of the stories.

 

 

Aunt Dahlia

Dahlia Travers happens to be a large, genial soul, and Bertie often praises her humanity, sporting qualities, and general good-eggishness. Though typically friendly, she is capable, with effort, of going into an authoritative grande dame act if the situation calls for it, assuming a serious expression and cold, aristocratic tone. There are occasions when she could even resort to such methods as pinching silver cow creamers, getting cats kidnapped and hold out blackmail threats in order to achieve her goals. The threat which often proves to be the most effective is that of denying her nephew access to Anatole’s lavish spreads at Brinkley Court.

She is short and solid and has a reddish complexion. According to Bertie, her face takes on a purple tinge in moments of strong emotion. She wears tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles for reading. She has a loud, carrying voice. Riding in her youth for years with such fox-hunting packs as the Quorn and Pytchley, she tends to address Bertie as if shouting across ploughed fields in a high wind. Expressions like “Yoicks!”, “Tally ho!”, “Gone away!”, and “Hark forrard!” happen to be a part of her vocabulary. One also runs into her sleepy black cat called Augustus.

Dahlia dandled Bertie on her knee when he was very young, and once saved him from swallowing a rubber comforter. When Bertie had measles as a child, Aunt Dahlia played tiddlywinks with him for hours and let him win, though Bertie maintains that his victories were due to his own skill.

The exchange of telegrams between her and Bertie are the stuff of a legend. However, the vagaries of time have made telegrams and postal services vanish from the public’s mind, depriving us of any pleasure of that kind in the present internet-driven times. On one occasion, Bertie had contributed an article about men’s dress trousers to her publication Milady’s Boudoir.

She is devoted to her husband Tom Travers and is always keen on touching him for a spot of money to keep her publication alive and kicking. Deeply concerned about the lining of his stomach, she does not display a sense of even rudimentary morality when deciding to pinch Anatole from the household of Rosie M Banks and Bingo Little.

(Why does she deserve the honour of being repeated here, despite having been covered in the previous post? Well, when an informal survey was conducted by yours truly within two of the several groups of Plum’s fans on Facebook, she was the one who was remembered most fondly across the board, miles ahead of Bobby Wickham, another all time favourite amongst those who add a dash and a punch to the proceedings in Plumsville!)

 

 

Lady Constance

She is Lord Emsworth’s most formidable sister, a strikingly handsome woman, with a fair, broad brow, and perfectly even white teeth. She has the carriage of an empress, and her large grey eyes are misleadingly genial.

She has an interest in fine arts and frequently invites writers, poets and other artists to Blandings Castle. She expects her brother to pay better attention to family members rather than either in pottering about his extensive gardens or fussing over the Empress of Blandings. She also admonishes her brother on his poor dress sense, expecting him to wear tight collars and top hats at the height of summer while giving speeches at local events. Often, while speaking to her fluffy-minded brother, she suffers a swimming sensation in the head. She connives with the gardener to convince her brother to give up his fascination with a yew alley covered with mossy growth and have instead a gravel path constructed through it but fails.

She strongly disapproves of anyone in her distinguished family marrying inappropriately, and spends much of her time trying to keep nieces and nephews away from unsuitable matrimonial prospects. She is rather fond of Rupert Baxter, the secretary of Lord Emsworth for some time, whom she considers highly capable and on whom she calls whenever she is in dire need of practical assistance.

Towards the end of the story Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend, one finds her brother having the courage to stand up to her.

 

 

Lady Hermione Wedge

Lord Emsworth’s short and fat sister, who resembles a cook, albeit a passionate one. The wife of Colonel Egbert and mother of Veronica, Hermione has all her sisters’ fear of one of the family marrying beneath them, and is incensed when Bill Lister, unsuitable suitor of her niece Prudence, mistakes her, as so many do, for a cook, in Full Moon.

When we meet her again in Galahad at Blandings, she is for a spell acting as a chatelaine at the castle, in the absence of her sister Constance, but gives it up in the face of her brother’s impossible ways; we learn that once, as a child, she struck Galahad over the head with her doll, laying him out cold.

Breeding tells. Lady Hermione Wedge might look like a cook, but there ran in her veins the blood of a hundred earls. She overcame the sudden, quick desire to strike her nephew over his fat head with the nearest blunt instrument.

A Chunk of Baloney is how Tipton Plimsoll is apt to describe her as.

 

 

The Five Aunts

In The Mating Season, we get introduced to a bevy of aunts: Charlotte, Emmeline, Harriet, Myrtle Deverill and Dame Daphne Winkworth. They exert undue influence over Esmond Haddock, despite the fact that it is he who foots the weekly bills at Deverill Hall. They come in different sizes and shapes. One is in the habit of soliloquizing to an extent that one comes to believe that if  Shakespeare would have ever come across her, he might have just liked her.

One of the aunts happens to be deaf, one dotty, one Dame Daphne Winkworth, and all of them totally unfit for human consumption on an empty stomach…

(Bertie Wooster)

They happen to be a family rooted in old customs and ways of life and do not take a kindly view of their nephew falling under the influence of Cora Pirbright, a Hollywood diva. In any case, they take a jaundiced view of actors, considering them as rogues and vagabonds. They judge everyone by their narrow county standards.

Having won a resounding approval from his audience at a public performance, the spineless hero eventually musters enough courage to stand up to his aunts, declaring her love for Corky unabashedly. Here is a part of the final words of Esmond Haddock to his aunts:

“…I really cannot have any discussion and argument about it. I acted as I deemed best, and the subject is closed. Silence, Aunt Daphne. Less of it, Aunt Emmeline. Quiet, Aunt Charlotte. Desist, Aunt Harriet. Aunty Myrtle, put a sock in it. Really, the way you’re going on, one would scarcely suppose that I was the master of the house and the head of the family and that my word was law. I don’t know if you happen to know it, but in Turkey all this subordinate stuff, these attempts to dictate to the master of the house and the head of the family, would have led long time before this to you being strangled with bowstrings and bunged into the Bosporous.”

 

Aunts and Spiritual Growth

Whether good and straight forward or bad and manipulative, aunts and senior ladies in Plumsville perk up the proceedings no end. They display a unique sense of loyalty to their families and can often be blamed for playing spoilsport. But their feudal spirit stands out.

But is there really a point in blaming aunts for any of the challenges faced by their nephews and nieces? At a given point in time, they might look like being worse than fire-breathing dragons. But this is perhaps their way of testing our mettle and the level of passion we have for what we seek. In childhood, they might have dandled us on their knees physically. In adulthood, perhaps this is their way of making us grow into more conscious, more persevering and dashing coves.

In other words, much like the many villains in our lives, they help us to evolve spiritually; to always have a chin up attitude and face the charging dragons and ferocious hippopotami we encounter in our lives with courage, equanimity, tact and resource.

 

Related Posts:

Different Shades of Women in Plumsville

Of Bertie, Goofy Females and the Wooster Clan

Bertie, Jeeves and the Internet of Things

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend: A Visual Version

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