The Charming One: Ranking of Austen heroes

2. Henry Tilney

This may be a controversial one, simply because he is one of the lesser known Austen heroes and I honestly think Northanger Abbey is Austen’s worst novel. Despite that, Tilney’s charm in the film version won me over and even though I disliked the book, Tilney had the same character in the film and in the book.

So… WHY you ask?

  1. Honesty-

    Though Tilney was young himself, Catherine was honestly a dreamy, silly young lady. When she spoke about things like, John Thorpe, Tilney could have easily gone along with her, acted jealous, silly, spoken bad about him. Instead, he bluntly told her he wasn’t the best person to discuss that with. Time and time again, he simply speaks truth, sometimes to Catherine’s benefit and sometimes not.
  2. He dances-

    Most of the other more popular Austen heroes do not willingly dance, at least not as willingly as Tilney. My point is, Tilney knows how to have fun. He dances with Catherine, races her, talks about novels, and so muc more. He’s lively, livelier than all other Austen heroes…..except perhaps Bingley. Simply put, Tilney has a joviality and lightness about him that is very attractive to our Miss Morland and to us readers.

  3. He chooses love over wealth-

    Many of our other heroes, may choose to marry someone with lesser money than them, but none of them are disowned. Tilney’s affections for Catherine are so pure and true that he chooses a simple life with her over a wealthy lifestyle without her.

  4. 2 sides of a coin-

    I like the contrast between him and his brother, and even his father. I think it says a lot about a person when they grew up with an “abusive” father and yet remain kind and generous. Tilney’s brother is his foil… totally doing things at his own whim, spoiled, abusing his power, lewd and loose, and rude. Henry thinks things through or at least owns up to what he does. He is not spoiled, uses his power for good, is pure and chivalrous, and the most congenial of all.

    I suspect you are wondering where the rest of my reasons are, but I honestly can’t explain anymore why Henry appeals to me. Perhaps its J.J. Fields depiction of him or his youth or his brilliant lines. Whatever it is, he has me charmed.

    I will be revealing my number three. I’ll give you a hint: there’s a Harry Potter connection.

Holding out for a Hero: The ranking of Austen heroes.

  1. I know there are a lot of rankings out there of the Austen heroes. I am sure mine will be a lesser read one, but I enjoy so much literature and Austen characters, her world of chivalry and romance. I can’t help it. I want to share my opinion. So, here it goes!
  2. Captain Wentworth

As far as movies go, Captain Wentworth, the 1995 version, is my number 1 Austen hero, closest to the book Wentworth as one can possibly get.

I know it’s always a shock when someone doesn’t rank Darcy as first, but as much as I admire Darcy for becoming a better man for Elizabeth, nothing tugs on my heart strings like Persuasion‘s faithful, passionate, underrated love story.

So, yes, I am biased. It’s my favorite Austen novel, and one of my favorite novels of all time. Why Captain Wentworth you say? I’ll try and keep this as short as I can.

1. Dedication- This is a man, who falling madly in love with a girl and then being jilted by her, still passionately adored her 8 years later! That is pure, unconditional love right there. Was there bitterness in his heart? Sure! But that didn’t stop him from loving her. And, that 8 years later they would be brought together, that his love for her remained constant through all his hardships….. there’s one word for it: BEAUTIFUL!

2. He fell for her again.

I also mean to lump into this reason, that Wentworth is the least shallow of all men. Sure, he still had a place in his heart for her, but being human, he wasn’t about to propose again. He did not know her heart after 8 years. But the poor man couldn’t help but fall for her AGAIN! He sees, again, her kindness, quick wit, talent, gentleness, servant heart, trustfulness, and loyalty. He even says she looks so altered, as though she has aged (which I am convinced was a comment of concern, not an insult as Anne took it). My point is, though I am sure he finds plain Anne to be beautiful, it’s her spirit, her personality, who she is that he cannot resist.

3. Man of few verbal words- Wentworth, I think is the quiet type. Is there evidence of this in the book? Perhaps not, I’m making my own conclusions. To me he is the type who can tell a good story, amiable to all, but he prefers the quiet. He prefers watching the beauty of the world, sitting in someone’s presence, and contemplating life. Wentworth’s inner world is clearly very rich considering his infamous letter. I love that he doesn’t always need to be speaking, he says only what needs to be said. A man of few words, who still communicates so much!

4. Manly yet chivalrous-

I know those two words are one in the same, but bare with me. Wentworth is a man, he is a captain, a leader. In biblical terms, he will be the head of the house, the protector, exactly what a wife needs and a man is made to be. While he is manly in that sense, he does not doubt a woman’s strength. Yes! I know, he says he would never have a woman on board his ship. But, again, I’m convinced he said that out of bitterness over Anne. He obviously didn’t believe it himself, otherwise Anne would not have ended up sailing away with him.

5. My favorite moment!!!

There is this scene in the book that illustrates perfectly who Wentworth is and where his heart and mind rest. The young Musgroves, Anne, Wentworth, Mary, and her husband had gone on a very long and tiring walk. No one had been attentive to Anne. She had stumbled, given her seat up for Mary, essentially, she had a bad time of it all.

On the way home, Sophia (Wentworth’s sister) and her husband, the admiral, stopped in their carriage to see if any of the ladies would like a ride. As they all said no, Wentworth whispered something in Sophia’s ear.

Sophia asks Anne to come in the carriage and Wentworth helps her in. This act of simple kindness was so unexpected and revealed so much. Wentworth was the kind of man who didn’t shout of his love, he acted it out. He was the type of man who couldn’t help but care even when his heart had been shattered.

6. The letter

This one is pretty self explanatory-

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

F. W.

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.

7. The last and most important

Wentworth loved Anne. Anne is the purest of all fictional heroines. She is gentle, loyal, humble, caring, and strong all at once. She doesn’t do anything grand, like trek through mud to meet with her sickly sister (Elizabeth) , she doesn’t own pounds of money to give away at her whim (Emma), she is average, yet extraordinary.

Yet, in the novel, she is overlooked, even by those who claim to love her. They constantly seek her friendship but out of their own selfish desires. No one SEES her, desires her love, happiness, asks about her, makes her feel special. She is invisible in a sense, but to Wentworth, she is the WORLD. It can all be summed up with one of the last scenes of the movie (sorry, just checked the novel and couldn’t find it in there), Wentworth arrives at the dinner party and announces that he wishes to marry Anne. Her father’s reaction: Annne? Why? But, Wentworth and Anne are smiling, completely lost in their love. Wentworth saw Anne when no one else did and that makes him precious and special in my eyes.

NEXT POST: Who do I rank as number 2? Could it be the favorite Mr. Darcy, or will I shock you again?