Today is J-Day for me in the A-Z Challenge, and what better topic to choose for this illustrious day than the romantic heroes of Jane Austen’s six major works, Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride & Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Sense & Sensibility, and Persuasion? Answer: NONE; THERE IS NO BETTER TOPIC.
Austen aficionados, read on. Of course, if you have not read all of Austen’s six completed novels and want to avoid spoilers, DO NOT READ ON BECAUSE AUSTEN SPOILER ALERT!
8. Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park: Seriously, fuck this motherfucker. Fanny deserved much better. This dude has his smart, sweet cousin (yeah, gross, I know, but it was centuries ago) who is WAY TOO GOOD for him, and he spends hundreds of pages pursuing Mary Crawford like a moron. I wish Fanny had ended up with Mr. Crawford and had, like, really hot sex with him. I always enjoy rereading Mansfield Park until the end, at which point I fly into a rage that Fanny marries this useless lump of a parson.
7. Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey: Henry is fairly boring as far as Austen heroes go, but what puts him above Edmund (ugh) is that while he is somewhat annoying in his “education” of Catherine Moreland he is not an obtuse piece of shit who falls for someone else or strings Catherine along. At the end of the day he’s mostly just inoffensive; he plays his role in Austen’s parody of the gothic novel of the time adequately and has a few good zingers.
6. Charles Bingley, Pride and Prejudice: Bingley needs to fucking grow a pair, but other than that he’s okay, and I think he’s pretty funny, to be honest. He seems constantly bewildered by his sisters’ and his friend Darcy’s machinations, which is cute if annoying, and while he is a “secondary” hero he still is gallant towards Jane in the end and if Darcy likes him that’s one point in his favor at least!
5. Edward Ferrars, Sense & Sensibility: I have mixed emotions about Edward. He appreciates Elinor Dashwood’s worth while trying to behave honorably towards Lucy (ugh I hope Lucy dies in a fire), but I just wanted him to FUCKING GROW A PAIR. I get that the social rules of the time required him to be super circumspect, but I wish he’d just fucking BE A PERSON AND TALK TO ELINOR. I know, I know, that defeats the purpose of half of the book, but it’s just ANNOYING. That being said, Hugh Grant’s portrayal of Edward in the ’90s film goes a long way towards ameliorating the character’s faults:
4. Mr. Knightley, Emma: Overall, I’m a big fan of Knightley, mostly because his relationship with Emma grows out of friendship. Yes, there’s a little ickiness there from a modern perspective as he is, like, sixteen years older than Emma, but he appreciates her vivacity despite her flaws, which, for the time, is a pretty remarkable feat. He’s intelligent and sensitive, but not afraid to tell Emma the truth about herself when necessary or to back off when he thinks she’s in love with someone else. I like them together. Also, if you watch one Emma adaptation, make sure it’s the 2009 BBC (the Gwyneth one is fine, but Jonny Lee Miller is amazing in this one):
3. Colonel Brandon, Sense and Sensibility: THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT! I always felt bad for Elinor that she was stuck with Edward when Marianne got Brandon in the end. A true tortured, faithful, carries-you-down-a-rain-soaked-hill hero, who will only be happy again once I–or, uh, Marianne, right, hahahah, what a funny typo I made there–give him my…uh, her…love.
2. Captain Frederick Wentworth, Persuasion: I can’t even talk about how much I love Wentworth. Yes, he’s an ass at first, but it’s because Anne broke his heart SO HARD THAT HE NEVER RECOVERED. Want further proof that this is a man with a fount of romance in his heart that will never run dry? Just read this FUCKING LETTER TO ANNE OMG I’M CRYING:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.
1. Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice: Let’s not fuck around–you’re not exactly surprised, are you? Let’s also not pretend that most women aren’t gonna be totally cool with a hero who’s dark and mysterious and rich and who has never loved ANY WOMAN BUT LIL’ OLD YOU. That being said, I think the most attractive thing about Darcy is that he fulfills the fantasy of the guy who “changes” for love. Of course, his changes are not fundamental to his character–he’s always a decent guy underneath, he just has to lose the ‘tude–but the gesture is powerful. And his generosity is out of control. Also, he’s hot. 10/10, would marry and go live at Pemberley with.
Oh, and a quick note–my favorite film Darcy is, surprisingly, Matthew McFayden in the 2005 film. While I still love me some Colin Firth, I feel like he sometimes looks like a serial killer planning to chop Elizabeth into pieces and feed her to his dog in some of the earlier episodes of the ’90s BBC version. Behold:
Kind of creepy:
So…come at me, I guess?
I would love to hear your thoughts on Jane’s boys in the comments, and please like and share if you enjoyed it ❤