"That would be the greatest misfortune of all! -- to find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!"
~ Pride and Prejudice
~ Pride and Prejudice
For Character Connections during Jane in June, I have decided to pick through all of Jane's work and group my favorite characters according to 4 categories (1 for each week): Heroines, Heroes, "Villains" and Side Characters.
This week is Heroes.
Last week for the Heroines post, I gave you my top 3. This week, I'm not going to pretend to be able to narrow it down to 3, because who are we kidding? We're talking about the guys who haunt our dreams, who have us searching for some shadow of their love and tenderness.
(Yes, I just made myself gag a little, and yes, what I said is true. And you know it.)
I think one of the biggest reasons for this (well, among the many reasons) is that we love a reformed bad boy. Let's be honest, Darcy was kind of a prick. Watching him transform from the stoic, somewhat caustic Darcy to the feeling, passionate, caring man he has become by the end of the book. Add to that the facts that he's also smart, handsome, wealthy, tall and striking, and that he appreciates a challenge, and that's it, folks; game over, job filled, no one else need apply...
(<-- had to include Eliot Cowan for Velvet)
But surprisingly, Darcy's not my only love from P&P; I also have a decided soft-spot for Charles Bingley.
Yes, he does leave the woman he loves and yes, he gets led around by the nose by his friend. But he is the sweetest, most gentle of Austen's male characters, and he is completely constant in spite of having left. Because despite his wealth and status, he is modest enough to have doubted he was loved. This lack of cockiness, and his absolute devotion to Jane, easily place him in my top literary heroes.
He appreciates Anne, one of Austen's subtler and less lively heroines, and you get the sense when reading Persuasion that once he and Anne have come together for good, that he will be the devoted type.
George Knightley was possibly the first man I swooned for. (Not my first swoon, mind you. That honor belongs to Gilbert Blythe. But the first man.) Long before I read Emma, I watched it rapturously as Jeremy Northam Mr Knightley to life. Years later when I read it for the first time, I remembered that smitten-kitten feeling, which I retain to this day. Knightley is the quintessential good guy. He loves Emma and is devoted to her in his way (he moves out of Donwell Abbey and into her father's home, for Jane's sake!), but you get the sense he won't let her walk all over him, which is a nice trait in a good guy.
He's also very smart and caring, and a real family man -- all in all, the man just says 'swoon for me' -- and swoon we must.
Henry Tilney is sort of the ignored Austen hero, as Catherine Morland is the ignored heroine. I'm not sure why this is. Henry is thoroughly charming and funny, and he cares for the people in his life in a way that makes you want him in your life. He's pretty easy-going, but when it comes to his love, he'll fight for it -- and that's just what he does when he defies his father, throws caution to the wind and gives his heart to Catherine.