I recently discovered ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ on YouTube, and although it’s a comedy (and a very well-acted one), I don’t find it very funny.
Maybe it’s because I’m seeing it through the eyes of someone living in the 21st century, but I find Bertie Wooster a very sympathetic character for two reasons. The first is he is pushed around by a lot of people (his Aunt Agatha and Florence Craye to name just two) who take advantage of him and/or force him to do what they want. There’s a difference between being assertive and being a bully.
The second reason is Bertie can’t say no to anyone. Come to think of it, he isn’t exactly allowed to say no, is he?
Of course, it could easily be said that Jeeves is just as manipulative as Florence or Stephanie Byng. The difference is he’s doing it out of concern for Bertie’s welfare (I hope) and without him, Bertie wouldn’t be able to get out of the situations he finds himself in.
I know the books were written in a very different time. But someone being manipulated and bullied is always sympathetic.