Monday, April 23, 2012

In Which I Offend Everybody

Ahem.  I do like attention-grabbing titles.

This post might be more aptly named "All About My Two Favorite Heroes And Why They Are Equal In My Book", but I prefer to startle y'all, and besides, I probably WILL offend pretty much everybody in this post.  And do you know what?  I'm okay with that.   Are you ready?  Here comes The Big Statement.

Mr. George Knightley (from Emma by Jane Austen) and Sir Percy Blakeney (from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy) are my two favorite literary heroes, and I don't prefer one above the other.

Now, I can just see the Janeites rising up in wrath over my saying that some guy from the French Revolution is just as good as any character created by the beloved Miss Austen.  I can also imagine the Leaguettes sharpening their guillotines and preparing to come at me for saying that anyone at all is a match for the Scarlet Pimpernel. I, however, consider myself to be both a Leaguette AND a Janeite, and I consider Sir Percy and Mr. Knightley to be equal.  They share the top spot on my list of favorite heroes, okay?  They're both quite wonderful, and neither is better than the other.

(By the by, however, I do think that overall, Jane Austen trumps Baroness Orczy-- and I'm not going to defend that position right now because I already did in the 70+ comment war over at Miss Georgiana Darcy's blog.)

One thing more.  I suggest you get this piano tuned.  When I sit down to an instrument, I like to have it in tune.  (Whoops, I think I quote Mary Poppins a little too much...)  What I meant to say was that currently Mr. Knightley and Sir Percy are sharing the top spot in my list of heroes because I really don't have one specific number one hero yet.  Because I haven't met him yet, you see.  Someday, when I get married, my husband will zoom right to the top spot.  I'll let you know when that happens. (This idea may or may not have been stolen from a blogging friend. :P)

I hope that made some semblance of sense.  A line from Anne of Avonlea (the book) that seems to be rather unfortunately appropriate is niggling at the back of my mind right now, however.
Gilbert, having tried to please both sides, succeeded, as is usual and eminently right, in pleasing neither. (ch. 4, "Different Opinions")
Moving on.

My dear sister Anne-girl is currently hosting Hero Week over at her lovely blog, and today the challenge is to list your top ten literary heroes.  I'm happy to oblige, but first I had to get that Big Statement out in the open.  Just so y'all know where I'm coming from, you know.

Hero Week
She hasn't made one for Mr. Knightley... sigh.  Actually, she didn't make any JA buttons.  Bah, humbug.
Without further ado, my top ten literary heroes, in some sort of order-- and if you are the kind of person who keeps tabs, you might notice that I have in actual fact listed eleven heroes, since I have two in the number one spot.  But hey, who's counting (except you)?  And please, as you read this list, keep in mind that I had a terrifically hard time assigning spots for heroes 2-9.  Terrifically.  I like them all so very much, it was quite difficult to say "this guy is better than this guy" and "well, I like him, but I like him even more".   

Sir Percy Blakeney and Mr. George Knightley (please, no comments about which goes first, 'kay? Blogger won't let me put their pictures side-by-side, and Blakeney comes first alphabetically).

Anthony Andrews as the One and Only Scarlet Pimpernel.  The End.
"Ceased? I shall love her 'til the day I die.  That is the tragedy."
~Sir Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

Sir Percy is the epitome of the Self-Sacrificing Hero.  He's brave, he's loyal, he's compassionate, he's funny, he's romantic and he's willing to fight for the right without question or pause, to march into hell for a heavenly cause.  In short (hmm, echoes of Mr. Micawber) he goes into the fire to make impossible dreams possible.  Also, he wears capes.  And eyeglass-thingies.  Sink me.

Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley in Emma 2009.  (In this case I will acknowledge other versions.)
"I cannot make speeches, Emma.  If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."
~Mr. Knightley, Emma (chapter 49)

Mr. Knightley is the kind of man I want to marry someday.  He's caring, kind, morally strong, responsible, intelligent, witty and just plain nice.  (Uh-oh, Henry Tilney's going to get me for that one...)  He never sacrifices truth on the altar of politeness, but at the same time he's thoughtful of the feelings of others.  He's also the perfect gentleman--a Knightley in Shining Armor.  (And for the record, folks: it's KnightlEy, with an E, not Knightly.  Just think of Anne Shirley, okay?)

(I may be going into greater detail about why these two are my favorites later in the week, so stay tuned.)

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 1995
"In vain I have struggled; it will not do.  My feelings cannot be repressed.  You must allow me to tell me how ardently I admire and... love you."
~Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Mr. Darcy, in my opinion, is thoroughly misunderstood.  (And yes, I realize that I sound like a snobby Janeite, but the truth of the mattuh is that I am, in general, a bit of a snob where my beloved JA is concerned.  Soary.) Some people think he's boring and has few (or zero) hero qualities.  I strongly disagree.  Some people think he's amazing simply because he's portrayed by Colin Firth.  I strongly disagree.  Look here, Mr. Darcy is great because he is a sympathetic character created by Jane Austen, who has issues at the beginning of the story but overcomes them in a truly admirable way.  And all those of you who say he doesn't smile?  Read the book.  Please, please, please.

Gilbert Blythe

Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables (1985)
"There would never be anybody for me but you."
~Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987)

Gilbert's so wonderfully down-to-earth, as my dear friend Rachel put it.  He might not be the first one to pop into your mind when you think of a dragon-slayer, but he's an absolutely wonderful guy.  Read this post (in which I went into much more detail) if you don't believe me.

Colonel Christopher Brandon

Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility 1995
"Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad."
~Colonel Brandon, Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Colonel Brandon was never christened Christopher by Jane Austen---presumably, if he was indeed christened Christopher, his parents did it.  Obviously.  Um, anyways, what I mean is that Jane Austen never mentions the Colonel's first name in S&S.  That's a liberty taken by the filmmakers, and I'm okay with that.  The name seems to fit him.  Colonel Brandon is one of my mom's favorite Austen heroes, and he's well-deserving of the title.  He might not be the charismatic, sweep-you-off-your-feet type, but whoever said that was what made a hero?  The Colonel is wise, caring, romantic (yes he is) and full of true character and integrity.

John Chivery
Russell Tovey as John Chivery in Little Dorrit (2008)
"All that time I was breaking my heart over her, she was breaking hers over you."
~John Chivery, Little Dorrit (2008)

John Chivery's story makes me cry every time I see the movie (much more so than in the book) and since I take a morbid delight in crying over stories, I really like John.  That is not, of course, the only reason.  There are others: for instance, John SPOILER ALERT completely sacrifices his own feelings so that the woman he loves can be happy with the man she loves.  Who is not him.  That was grammatically incorrect, but I'm too tired to fix it.  END OF SPOILER.  John may be a bit melodramatic at times, but in the end he displays tremendous selflessness.  Also, whenever he says, "It's you, Amy," in an adorable British accent, I melt a little bit because I am Very Silly Indeed.  (Because, you know, it's my name... anyways.  Moving on.)

Edward Ferrars
Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars in S&S 1995

"My heart is... and always will be... yours."
~Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Edward is one of the most honorable literary men I have ever read about, and though I'm afraid he sometimes gets a bad rap, I am staunchly Team Edward.  (Edward FERRARS, people.  Ferrars.)  I elaborated on this topic here.
Arthur Clennam
Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit (2008)
"What a blind idiot you must have thought me."
~Arthur Clennam, Little Dorrit (2008)

Arthur, my sister and I have agreed, is the ultimate Mr. Nice Guy of period drama.  He would, I believe, do anything for anybody, no matter how little they deserved it.  He always thinks of others before himself, and though he might not always be the most perceptive person ("I don't know why I'm telling you all this, Amy!") he makes up for it with his heart of gold.  Besides all the wonderful things he does for the ungrateful Dorrit family, just think how he stood up as best man in Pet's wedding, even though Pet, the girl he thought he loved, was marrying a guy he detested.  Well, "a guy he detested" is a relative term-- I'm not sure Arthur could really truly detest anyone.
Jean Valjean

Colm Wilkinson, who IS Jean Valjean
"If I die... let ME die... let him live... bring him home."
~Jean Valjean, Les Miserables (the musical) 

Jean Valjean's story is one of the most powerful I've ever read, and it is The Best Ever to be portrayed on stage.  "I will brook no argument."  Forgiveness and self-sacrifice are the themes of Valjean's life, and he displays them over and over and over again.  He reveals his true identity when another man is falsely accused in his place... he bears no grudge against the policeman who chased him down and hated him for years... he puts his own life in danger to protect the boy who loves his daughter... he eventually allows his daughter to leave him and be married, even though it breaks his heart.  (Tissues, anyone?)

Henry Tilney

"And this is a very nice day, and a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies.  Oh! it is a very nice word indeed.  It does for every thing."
~Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey (ch. 14)

Henry is hilariously witty-- definitely the funniest hero Miss Austen ever created, and therefore has to rank on my top ten list.  Naturally.  He also may or may not have been part of the inspiration for the hero in the novel I'm currently scribbling.  Henry is humorous, definitely, but he is also responsible, moral, fair and an excellent judge of muslin.  And, following Mr. Darcy's advice, he improves his mind with extensive reading--his hair standing on end the whole time, mind you.

Atticus Finch
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
~Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

I discovered Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird last summer, and though I've only read it once so far, I intend to read over again many, many times.  Atticus Finch exemplifies moral courage to me, and his integrity, sense of justice and willingness to fight for the right left me awed at the end of the book.  I realize that this character is a bit different from the other Classic Literature Club members ranking on my list, but I simply couldn't leave him out of the top ten.

And of course, I can't close this post without giving honorable mention to such literary greats as Roger Hamley, Johnny Tremain, Enjolras Whodoesn'thavealastname, Tommy Beresford, John Jarndyce, Nicholas Nickleby, Reginald Jeeves... shall I go on?  No, I'll spare you.   But now it's your turn-- head over to my sister's blog and leave her a link with your list of favorite heroes!

Note:  Please give due appreciation to the pictures in this post-- you have no idea how long it took me to get them all properly dragged into their proper places.  Blogger, I have decided, just plain hates me.


Alexandra said...

I Will Be Silent. 'Cuz I have *my* post coming this week. Hehehehehehehe.

I like your list. Somewhat. :-P

Hahahah. I need to go make mine...and LOL about the links to Sir Percy. Heheh. What lovely vids! What a talented maker! Who made them?!

Sigh. :-P

Melody said...

HAHAHA did you really list John Chivery before Arthur Clennam?? Really? And call him a hero?
You sad girl.
Sorry. It MMSnort. I couldn't help it. ;-)

What else do I have to say about this post? Okay, well, I came very close to not reading it, but then I thought that would be too rude so I decided to at least look at it. :P But this is where I practice writing short comments.

~Thank you for the thing about spelling Knightley right. :D

~I am glad Mr. Darcy made it secondish on your list. And about reading the book... thank you. HAHAHA, if YOU are a bit of a snob where your beloved JA is concerned, what am *I*, please?

~Well, at least Henry made it to your top 10 list. :P
But wait... John Chivery before Henry Tilney? Balderdash!

Yes. That is all I have to say, much to either your relief or disappointment, I am not sure which.

I will not say anything about certain heroes who *shudders* were at the top of your post. I just, won't. (Besides... you'll be hearing about that soon enough anyways. Heh, heh, heh.)

Vellvin said...

You made me giggle and laugh through your post! :D In short you amuse me.

Percy is awesome and so is Mr. Darcy.
If you don't mind my asking but what is Les Miserables and henry's quote though I haven't seen Northanger Abbey is very clever.

Anna said...

You did a lovely job with this list, I like that you put John Chivery on the list isn't though he isn't the main character of a book or movie. And so many people dislike Mr. Darcy, you did a good deed putting him on the list.

Glad Sir Percy is at the top, he should always be at the top of everything in my opinion.

Though Mr. Knightley isn't my favorite as a "hero" he is most definitely the most kind and funny and encouraging of any character.

Gilbert. *love* He is the most realistic hero, one with the most faults. But I love him.

Colonel Brandon is always a favorite of mine, he is so kind and steadfast. So many others wouldn't wait.

I don't like Edward Ferrars, that said he is still a honorable man and keeps to his word, I have nothing against him I just don't like him.

Mr. Tilney is quit funny. : )

And yes, Chivery should come before Tilney. While I love Tilney he never does anything particularly heroic, is just is and would be if anything came up. Chivery is incredibly sacrificial.

Abilaine said...

I will remain silent. I WILL remain silent!!!

OH... Your defence of hero #2 is just GREAT! (I'm not naming names) Would not want to repeat myself on MY hero post.

Mr. Knightley... I just love him!

Gilbert, um, Gilbert. I like him tolerably, "But he is not handsome enough to temp me." (kidding, kidding)

I'm so glad Henry Tilney on your list. He is really great. (haha... I'm not a Henry Tilney fan REALLY but... Anyway)


Miss Dashwood said...

You like my list? Somewhat? Good. I like YOU temporarily.
Heh. Couldn't resist that. ;)
I agree, those vids are fantastic! I wonder who the beautiful, talented creator might be? Perhaps we shall nevah know...

Arthur's dense. Soary, but he is. He's a darling, but he's also a bit of a blockhead. John, on the other hand, may be a bit angsty, but he has such a good heart and he knows who he loves. And yes, he's better than Henry Tilney. The End.
If I am a bit of snob, you are... er... well, you're my Tween. Heehee. Tweens think alike. Does that aunswer your question?

I do not mind your asking at all! Les Miserables is an immense, epic 19th-century novel by Victor Hugo that was adapted into a stage musical in 1985. I'm a huge fan of both the book and the musical (though I can't endorse all of the content of either of them) and you can see the review I wrote here.

Miss Dashwood said...

Gilbert definitely is realistic and down-to-earth-- but I wouldn't say he's the one with the most faults. I'm not sure which one I would say has the most faults though... maybe Mr. Darcy?
And yes, John is much more sacrificial than Henry Tilney-- although Henry sure is hilarious!

Gilbert is not handsome enough to tempt you, eh? Oh, well, all the better for the rest of us.

I'm rather amused by all the people vowing to remain silent... and then following that up with wity remarks. :P

Miss Dashwood said...

Witty remarks. WITTY. With two T's. *facepalm* It was a typo. Honestly.

Rhoswen Faerie Wrose said...

I love your list!
I especially agree with including Gilbert Blythe. In fact, I agree so much I had to include him in my own list! ;-)

Anne-girl said...

Ah yes! Henry isn't here right now so I shall have to do it for him. "This is a very nice walk and it is a very nice day and you are a very nice chick.

Yes! I totally agree that Christopher is a great name for him!

John's accent is the last word on accents.

Team Edward indeed!

Vellvin said...

Thanks. :)

Hayden said...

sigh. so many good heroes. And M. Knightley and Sir Percy are tied in my list too. Well, sort of. It depends on which book I'm currently reading :)

Jessica said...

I liked about 1/2 of your list and not the order. Haha
I seem to be in the minority here, but I don't quite get the extreme fascination with Sir Percy. (Please don't kill me.)

Interesting post, all the same. ;-)

Melody said...

HAHAAHAHAHA, Jessica... ;D You make me laugh. You also sound like me. (With the "don't kill me" part...)

Oh, I totally agree that Arthur is dense. Him being #7 isn't at all what I didn't get. It was John being #5 and HENRY BEING #9. *In Margaret-in-S&S08-voice* "You're mad!"
Maybe you'll come to your senses eventually. :D

Haha... I thought you were going to say I was more of a snob about JA than you are. Because I am, you know. :P

AnnaKate said...

I absolutely agree with all these heroes! They are all absolutely swoon-worthy and I am with you about Sir Percy... he is just awesome. Brave and dashing and mysterious and funny and enduringly loyal. <3 And that's my favorite movie version, too!

Mr. Tilney and Mr. Knightley are my favorite Austenian heroes... although I love Wentworth too... hm... and Darcy... oh dear...

And Arthur and John? Oh yes! Both are so sweet I couldn't decide who I was rooting for... =/

Colonel Brandon... I am so glad he made it onto your list. =) He is such a great character and gets a pretty bad rap.

Atticus Finich... mmm... yes. He is the Mr. Darcy of the South. And Jean Valjean is wonderful too!

Gilbert will always be a favorite. For calling Anne out when she went too far, for loving her even when she made mistakes, for waiting for her and being her friend. He's even better in the books than in the movies, and I love his relationship with their kids. =)

This post made me so, so happy... the end. =)

Anonymous said...

Good defence for Darcy.
My sister should read this post.

The Mad Elvish Poet said...

Arthur Clennam is *7th*? I think I'm going to faint. Under Hugh Grant's Ferrars? I'm truly going to faint. *And* Alan Rickman's Brandon? If I could faint, I would. (it must be understood that part of my abhorrence to Brandon playing non-creepy people arises from having seen "Prince of Thieves")
Apart from the order, and your rather shocking preference of Mr. Knightley to Mr. Darcy (I'm team '05, btw), I quite agree with the people on your list.