Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mr. Knightley is the Best Jane Austen Hero. Get Ready...Mr. Darcy isn't Even Number Two!

Very subjective, slightly off the cuff list of my Top Five Jane Austen Heroes. These are the ones I would choose for myself -- assuming I were a Regency-era heroine -- and not based on any higher motives or purposes. (Oh, and if you want to know the best Austen heroines, click here!)
  1. Mr. Knightley from Emma.
  2. Captain Wentworth from Persuasion.
  3. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
  4. Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey.
  5. Mr. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.
Mr. Knightley - Kind and caring, but also very much in charge, he is the definition of gentleman - putting people around him (both high class and those of low rank) at their ease; defending his tenants and standing up for their lowly girlfriends. He believes in Emma and accepts her on her own terms but isn't blinded by her charm. He wants what is best for her but isn't controlling or overbearing in trying to change her. He is also humble about his claims on her affections. Darcy can't touch this man.

Captain Wentworth - Also a man who seems in control of himself and comfortable with his place in the world around him. A grown up man. Experienced, worldly, passionate intelligent, he worked hard for what he has and holds it dear. He values real depth of character, true love and, as we all know, is constant in his feelings for Anne. He's got a lot of cash, but not the trappings of old wealth; as a result he seems a lot free-er in his life.

Mr. Darcy - Darcy is the quintessential Austen hero for his wealth, grand estate, intelligence, forbearance and gentlemanly-ness. He is introverted and interesting in character, but harder to get to know than some of the others. However, that is rather the point. Because once he is fully and completely in love, he becomes the best of men. Time Magazine described the character, as portrayed by Colin Firth, as: "a man locked away within himself but with great personal standards and morality. It was a performance that made women of all ages swoon."

Henry Tilney - Tilney seems like the kind of guy it would be a lot of fun to hang around. He has a kind of lighthearted charm and warmth. He comes from old wealth, but finds the whole "game" distasteful. He is seeking something true and more meaningful, and he happens to have a great sister. Both are very real, understanding, intelligent, kind, and fun.

Mr. Bennett - A crazy choice, maybe, but I'm going to make a case for Mr. Bennett. No, he is not a good husband to the wife he's got. But, honestly, who could be? In the modern era he would be divorced and probably a lot happier. Yes, he is witty and acerbic, but he is not hateful. He loves where he sees goodness. He can be indulgent & kind and he feels deeply. He's just driven down by way to much "silliness" in his home. Give him some rational company and he's perfectly ready to spend his life being happy. I imagine a very comfortable life with him, just reading, talking, thinking, and hanging out in good comfort at a small country estate making goodhearted fun of the neighbors. Not a bad life at all.


  1. I completely agree with your top two...I've always loved Knightley and Wentworth while everyone else seemed to favor Darcy. Though I have to say my number three would definitely be Colonel Brandon. He's such a gallant yet mysterious man and does everything he can for the people he loves.

  2. Thank you for your comment; Yes, a kindred spirit! The more I started thinking about this, the further Darcy was sinking down the list. And at one time I had Colonel Branden at number 3 on my list too. I agree that he is a very caring man and attractive hero too.

  3. Great post!

    Completely agree about Mr Knightley being the best hero, I wouldn't be able to put it so eloquently but from the very start I thought he was such a great character and such a perfect fit for Emma. But after Captain Wentworth I would probably place Henry Tilney, he's just such a thoroughly good man. I have to say that I almost (just almost, when compared to the others) don't understand the whole Darcy hysteria.

    Really like the rest of your blog, too.

  4. Thank you for your kind comment!

    I'm so glad others like Mr. Tilney too. You're right that there are so many other wonderful heroes, It is hard to understand the Darcy hysteria. But, I do think it has something (maybe) to do with the performances of the amazing actors who have played him.

  5. Ive always been a big fan of Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. He quietly waited in the wings even though he knew Marriane falling for Willoughby was going to be disastrous for her. He was a gentleman and always treated her and Elinor with respect, even trying to connect with Marriane genuinely through their mutual passion- the piano.

  6. You almost had it right. It is Captain Wentworth and then Mr. Knightley. :-)

    Glad to see that I am not the only one who loves those two above Mr. Darcy.

  7. So glad to hear others thoughts on this! And really appreciate that no one's taking me to task for trowing Mr. Bennett in there :) I always did have an odd little crush on him. Col. Brandon is awesome too, no doubt.