Jane Austen’s Leading Men or Heroes Ranked (Tentatively)

Thinking about this after Katie’s comment on this post. But I’m due for rereads, so I may have to revisit this post. I know my top two. Also, movie portrayals matter, I watched many of the movies before reading and have watched the films many times sense. I think with many of the characters, the book leaves some openness in interpreting the characters (not all of them), actually, to me the some of the most famous (Darcy, Knightley, and Brandon) are that way. Because they are older/more reserved maybe?

  1. Captain Wentworth. Decisive, military, passionate, I do have to wonder though, how well this would work in reality. I mean does a Marianne-type character work with admittedly something of the male-equivalent in intensity.

  2. Henry Tilney funny, kind, honorable. This I know would work for me in reality.

Now for the others. I do think I’d pick Mr. Knightley next (or would I?), but I’d prefer John Knightley from the 2008 Emma. That smart-aleck and family loyal character is absolutely my style. I’m not sure what I think of Knightly, I’m not sure he’s as clearly defined, all the movie versions are sort of accurate in a way, but also not. He can seem a bit too, puppy-dog, like trailing after Emma which I don’t like. So maybe I would pick Bingley next although. Bingley and Edward Ferrars I kind of group together. I have difficulty respecting them, and I’m afraid I’d steam role right over them, but I’d pick them over the melancholy Brandon, or the boring (!) Darcy.

Bingley, precious and sweet but too easily led. But he doesn’t do anything wrong, and he does come back without prompting, I think, although with some hints maybe, or encouragement after seeing Lizzie. My understanding was Darcy said something to him after he came back, but like I said I’m due for a reread.

Edward Ferrars. Grow a spine dude. It’s not honorable to love another and stay engaged, sorry, that isn’t actual faithfulness. However, he is funny.

Edmund Bertram. Ah, Edmund, I loved you so much until I despised you so much. And yet, I still think I’d want him before Colonel Brandon. I mean if Edmund hadn’t fallen for Mary, or at least for that long and so hard. Early Edmund would be closer to the top.

Darcy. I belong to the Darcy is overrated club.

Colonel Brandon. I’m afraid the unfairly ancient and/or slimy casting of Colonel Brandon has forever tainted him to me. If Matthew McFadyen had played him (ala Arthur Clennam) as I think would have been ideal. I think he needed to be brought to life in such a way as too make him appealing. He’s too melancholy a person for me ideally.


  • moviecriticqueen

    I think Sense and Sensibility (1995) was my first introduction to Jane Austen, so I love Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon! I really want to see the 2009 Emma, but I think the actor who plays Mr. Knightley is the same one who plays Edmund in a version of Mansfield Park. Henry Tilney is so funny and I need to reread that book!

    • Livia Rose

      Pride and Prejudice 95 was my introduction, but that Sense and Sensibility, the Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong Emma, and the Ciaran Hinds Persuasion soon followed. I still remember my unbelieving horror at realizing Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman wasn’t the book 35, although I hadn’t read it yet, who is younger than Knightley, but Knightley always gets better actors) was going to end up with Marianne. Also, I’m Marianne in personality which probably affects my choices. I do find that match a hard sell on belief, really.

      I haven’t seen that Mansfield Park and prefer to forget about it, I hope it wouldn’t ruin it for you because he’s GREAT as Mr. Knightley. I’ve seen three versions of Emma (not the newest) and he’s definitely the best. Continuing the Mansfield Park/Emma adaptation connection, the newest Edmund Betram plays Mr. Elton in the 2009 Emma, and plays him hilariously in a way you can just tell the actor is enjoying himself.

    • Livia Rose

      Some of the funniest men certainly are Mr. Bennet of course, and Mr. Elton in the 2009 especially and Mr. Collins, particularly of the 95 version (although they weren’t intentionally so).

  • Catherine

    Think my order would be Henry Tilney, Knightley brothers (John is definitely underrated!) Wentworth (used to be higher, but I think maybe he would be a bit much) Edward Ferrars (bit wet but very sweet) and then the others are all okay as people but wouldn’t be for me. I liked some things about the new Emma but it was weird – the Johnny Lee Miller one is still my favourite 🙂 I quite like Alan Rickman’s Brandon! But you’re right, they always do cast him older than Mr. Knightley.

    • Livia Rose

      Yeah, Wentworth is very much my type of paper/screen, but I have to wonder what that would be like in real life. Since I’m not of a mild disposition.

      I’ve heard the new Emma was strange, something of a long awkward moment. And I was of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” opinion. Emma 2009 has its flaws (Emma herself isn’t accurate or well-acted), but overall it’s such an enjoyable watch with stunning scenery and costumes, hilarious banter and situational humor, lovely music, and every other character is just about perfect. I didn’t appreciate it when it first came out because I was so tied to the Mark Strong and Kate Beckinsale Emma (she is definitely by far the most accurate Emma, and dark as Emma should be), but we always tend to pick this movie out of all the JA movies because the others aren’t exactly relaxing like this is.

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