Character of Will Wimble: Essay - Summary & Analysis

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Introduction of Will Wimble

      While the Spectator was talking with Sir Roger one manager brought a fish and a letter to Sir Roger. The fish had been caught by Will Wimble. He had sent his greetings to the knight and hoped that die could dine with him that day. He also expressed the wish that he could come and spend some days with Sir Roger. He intimated that he would be bringing some whip-lashes as a gift to the knight. He had observed that Sir Roger’s whips had wanted lashes. The Spectator felt curious to see this odd character.

Will Wimble: His Character

      Will Wimble was a younger son of a well-known family. He was between the ages of forty and fifty and was his brother’s superintendent of game. He was one of the best men to be able to hunt with a pack of dogs. He was very good at making handicrafts. He could make a May-fly to a miracle. He furnished the country with fishing rods. He was a kind and cheerful man and was welcome in all the houses on this account and the fact that he belonged to a good family. He pleased them all by giving little presents and by keeping up the contact between gentlemen who lived too far apart to meet frequently. He would present puppies and even garters to the ladies of the families.

The Arrival of Will Wimble

      Will Wimble himself made his appearance while Sir Roger was describing him to the Spectator. He carried a few hazel twigs which he had picked from Sir Roger’s woods as he passed that way. He had brought with him a set of shuttlecocks which had to be given to a lady in the neighborhood, and a servant was despatched to give them to her. Will told the Spectator a number of hunting adventures he had met with in the recent past. The Spectator was most delighted at having met Will Wimble for he loved meeting odd and uncommon people. He paid great attention to Will Wimble.

Conversation At Dinner

      The conversation Will was having with the Spectator was cut short by the dinner bell. The fish that Will had sent was served for dinner and this pleased him immensely. He launched into an account of how he had caught that fish. He talked on this for the whole of the first course. The next course of wildfowl set him talking on the improvement he had made on the quail pipe.

Author’s Attitude and Feelings

      The Spectator felt a secret compassion for Will Wimble and others like him. He felt sorry that such men had not the training to stand on their own feet but had to waste their talents doing unimportant things. It was a curse that these families looked upon trade as beneath their dignity and preferred their younger sons to starve as gentlemen rather than prosper as traders and merchants. Will Wimble could have employed his application and talents in another field and been successful. But unfortunately, he was idling away his time on trifles. He could have prospered in the field of trade for his ordinary but useful qualifications would have helped him greatly in that field. Will’s parents; must have tried him in the liberal professions like law and divinity, and finding that he was not good at them, given him up to his own means. This was a great pity because England was a trading nation and could easily provide such people with an opportunity to prosper.


      Character of Will Wimble by Addison deals with a serious social problem of the day which was of a great significance in England and Europe. The aim of the Spectator was to benefit contemporary society and in this essay Addison takes upon himself the role of critic and reformer. He focuses attention on the sad plight of the younger sons of the nobility in English society. He criticizes their false dignity which prevents them from letting their younger sons take up trade to earn their living. As a result, they waste their talents and spend their time idly, always at the mercy of the elder brothers who have inherited the property. This pride leads to poverty ultimately. Will Wimble is conceived as a type of younger son whose potential talents are being wasted on trifles. But Will is also made an individual character. Therein lies the skill of Addison as an artist of characterization.

      Addison uses a complex technique to uncover the character of Will. Will’s personality is revealed, firstly, through the letter. The reader gets to know something about the writer’s love of sports like fishing and riding. Then we are given Sir Roger’s description of the man. The Teader’s curiosity develops, with that of the Spectator’s to meet the man himself. Finally, we have the conversations of Will with the Spectator. All these methods are used to unfold the character of Will Wimble. But one thing to be noted is that Will with all his oddities is not really a complex character psychologically speaking. Addison always keeps his characters ‘simple’ and what we may call superficial. He does not go deep into psychological studies. While Will undeniably represents the class of people that Addison wanted to criticize, he is also given certain vivid touches which make him individualized.

      Connected with the characterization of Will is the humour of the essay. There is comedy in the one-sided conversation of Will and his naive assumption that everybody will be interested in hunting because he himself is. There is irony in the fact that he pays such great attention to the preparation of trifles like May-flies and garters and shuttlecocks. There is humour in Will’s modesty about referring to the garters in front of ladies though he makes them presents of these very articles.

      The essay also gives evidence of Addison’s patriotism when he says that it was the happiness of England that younger sons could easily make good in the field of trade. The reference to England as a trading nation also presents an exact picture of the expanding trade and commerce of the times. England was growing in reputation as a trading
nation and with this expansion in trade came the rise of the middle-classes. The rise of the commercial classes is represented by Sir Andrew Freeport.


      Line. 28-35. He hunts a pack of dogs......about him: In these lines. Addison gives a character sketch of Will Wimble. Once again we see his skill at making pen portraits. Will Wimble was a representative of the class of younger brothers of the landed gentry who did not have any profession of their own and idled their time away in useless employments. Will was extremely good at hunting. He could find out the hare in the hunt very easily. He was also very good at turning out little pieces of handicraft. He could make a May-fly so well that it looked like real one. He was good at making fishing reds which he presented to every one in the country. He was helpful and good natured and, as he belonged to a good family too, he was welcomed in all the houses as a guest. He also helped to keep up contacts between one gentleman and another who lived too far apart to meet each other frequently Addison’s skill at writing is seen here. He manages to engage our Eympthy rather than our contempt for a man like Will Wimble. Though he is in reality an idler, we sympathize with his position. Addison makes the reader conscious, rather, of the drawback of the society which helped to create the Will Wimbles of the day. There is gentle irony in his mention of the perfection with which Wimble makes such negligible items like a May-fly.

      Line. 60-64. Odd and uncommon......ordinary attention: Addison’s portrayal of Will Wimble is a humorous one. He tells us how Will held a one sided conversation about the adventures he had with game of one sort or the other. Addison now humorously remarks that he himself as the Spectator was hunting for ‘game’ like Will Wimble. It is an apt metaphor, as Wimble is so interested in hunting himself; the Spectator is in search of characters who were out of the ordinary. These odd and whimsical people were the ones who interested and pleased the Spectator. He was delighted with the freshness and novelty of such a person, the like of whom he had not met before. Will and his odd qualities pleased the Spectator as much as Will himself was delighted with his hunting adventures like disturbing a pheasant from its hiding. He paid extra attention to what a character like Will Wimble said, as he was an odd type of person.

      LI. 81-86. The same temper......qualifications: Will Wimble was a good humoured and kind hearted man, ready to help people. He was industrious in his own way, making, as he did, certain goods with his own hands to perfection. But these items were all articles of little or no use. Addison, as the Spectator, laments this waste of resources and talents If he had applied himself with the same diligence to matters of importance, he could have achieved a great name for himself in society as well as accumulated a fortune for himself. In another position in society, he would have done extremely well for himself, for he had potential. With his ordinary but useful qualifications, he could have proved to be a good trader or merchant, and thus done good for himself as well as his country. Addison, in this essay, hits out against the waste of potential talents because of a false sense of values.

      Line. 87-94. Will Wimble’s is the case......of their family: Through the description of a particular person like Will Wimble, Addison comes to the general issue presented by such cases. The aim of the Spectator is to focus attention on the vices of the society. Here Addison draws attention to a practice prevalent at the time which was a sheer waste of useful talents. The younger sons of noble families did not inherit the property. If they had been lucky enough to be trained in one of the liberal professions like law, medicine or divinity, they were well off. If they had not shown any aptitude for these studies, they were apt to be given up as hopeless cases. The nobility of gentlemen class of society felt it below their dignity to allow any of the members of their families to join the trading profession to earn money. This false value and pride resulted in poverty. This was the case in many of the countries of Europe. England was a trading nation and could easily afford a place for all the younger sons of the aristocracy to make good at trade and even exceed the fortunes inherited by their elder brothers. If they are put in trade, they may compete with the best members of their family. Addison is quite critical of the wastage of potential talent merely because of false pride.

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