I wish I’d made a similar list when I was in my early teens and twenties just to notice the evolution. I see some patterns in this collection of men: not a lot of Alphas or Bad Boys, there’s a surprising number of soldiers (although their soldering doesn’t defines them), only two of them lived in the 20th century and steadfastness seems a general quality.
I suspect that my past self would include more gloomy types, but intellect and the possibility of an interesting conversation is taking over. Mr. Darcy would have definitely be included in a previous list, but now I’m switching my Austen favorite from the brooding gentleman to the social adventurer. I’ve also noticed they aren’t very original choices, but for that I blame the amazing authors that created them.
10. Jaime Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire series)
“I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.” (A Clash of Kings)
I struggle da bit about including Jamie because of the whole, you know, pushing a child out of the window thing. But the fact remains that as the series progresses, Martin’s genius is making him more and more interesting and layered.
He stats off with a ruthless reputation, but then on book three he becomes a POV character and we suddenly see the other side of the story. It’s also around that time that Jaime’s life stops being a succession of victories and the first cracks start to show. Although he has a twisted relationship with his sister, there’s true affection between him and Tyrion, always a good sign.
I’ll probably regret this choice in the future because, Martin being Martin, Jaime might be killing baby seals in the next book, but for now, his chapters are the ones I’m most looking forward to.
9. William Dobbin (Vanity Fair)
She admired Dobbin; she bore him no rancour for the part he had taken against her. It was an open move in the game, and played fairly. “Ah!” she thought, “if I could have had such a husband as that—a man with a heart and brains too! I would not have minded his large feet.” (Becky Sharp on William Dobbie)
Becky Sharp saying such a thing about a man should already be an indication of how great Dobbin is. He’s described as shy, ugly, awkward, the complete opposite of his best friend George, who marries the girl Dobbie loves and everyone thinks a hero, but is in fact the scum of the earth. I don’t usually go for the meek characters, but Dobbin is the underdog who sticks around when there’s trouble and one of the noblest literary men I’ve ever read about.
Everyone seems to underestimate him, but Dobbin goes from the son of a grocer to become a Captain, then a Major, and finally a Colonel. He also has a smart sense of humor, although it rarely makes an appearance. In one of the book’s last scenes, after years of constant affection, Dobbin finally stands up for himself after being unfairly mistreated by his beloved Amelia. Although it’s sad, it’s also the poignant scene that sealed the deal and made him enter this list.
It also didn’t hurt to see Philip Glenister play him in the adaptation.
8. Ron Weasley (Harry Potter series)
“Hermione screamed again from overhead, and they could hear Bellatrix screaming too, but her words were inaudible, for Ron shouted again, ‘HERMIONE! HERMIONE!’” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Ron is the real romantic hero of the Harry Potter series and I’m not alone in thinking so. He starts of as The Chosen One’s wingman, the one without any special gifts or abilities and ends up getting the (amazing) girl. Ron coughs up slugs and breaks wands, but he also offers himself up to Bellatrix in Hermione’s stead and, in one of the most amazing scenes of the whole serie, he faces his fears and insecurities and destroys the Locket.
AND he smells of freshly mown grass, new parchment and toothpaste…
7. Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables series)
“Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him and failing utterly… she should look at him, that redhaired Shirley girl with the pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.” (Anne of Green Gables)
He’s not afraid to apologize or to stand his ground and challenge Anne. He loves her but is ready to wait until she’s ready… and it also doesn’t hurt he’s easy on the eye.
All of their scenes together make me all mushy inside: calling her Carrot, the The Lady of Shalott debacle, his proposal(s) and basically the whole of Anne of the Island.
6. Captain Wentworth (Persuasion)
“A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! He ought not; he does not”
His devotion to Anne, after all those years, after she broke her heart is impossible to resist. For me he has the added value of being the only Austenesque self-made hero and a sailor who’s seen the world to top. It’s a great combination.
He’s also one of the only people in the world who recognizes Anne for the sensible, intelligent and resourceful woman she is: no one puts Anne in a corner!
5. Robbie Turner (Atonement)
“Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can every quite cheapen.”
Years of desiring Cecilia from afar and a few stolen minutes in the library sustain Robbie Turner throughout the horrors of WW2. Don’t know exactly why I like Robbie so much, but it’s probably because he carries an undeserved burden with courage, and strength, and always with Cecilia on his mind.
Robbie wears his heart of his sleeve and somehow there’s hope in him, even after Briony’s accusation and all that followed. We can’t help but, be like the narrator, wholeheartedly root for him to come back.
4. Stephen Maturin (Aubrey/Maturin series)
“There is a systematic flocci-nauci-nihili-pilification of all other aspects of existence that angers me.” (Master and Commander)
This is my most recent literary crush: he’s bright, funny and such a geek! Stephen might not be good looking, but he can tell you all about the Galápagos giant tortoise and how to do brain surgery in a stinking boat in six languages.
Actually, scratch that about him not being good looking, don’t care how O’Brian describes him, he’ll always look like Paul Bettany to me. It’s also attractive that he’s part of one of the best bromances around.
3. Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind)
“There was a cool recklessness in his face and a cynical humor in his mouth as he smiled at her, and Scarlett caught her breath.”
A cliché, I know, but the millions of fans can’t all be wrong, right? Rhett Butler had me almost at hello, when he stands in a group of righteous Southern men hungry for war and says “Napoleon – perhaps you’ve hear of him? – remarked once, ‘God is on the side of the strongest battalion’“.
Just like Scarlett he’s an anti-hero, or at least a hero trying too hard not to be one (was there ever a more frustrating relationship?). He’s sharp, ambitious, worldly, cynical, confident and just devilish enough to keep any woman on her toes.
Mitchell never wrote a sex scene, but the pages are full to the brim with sexual tension whenever he’s around.
2. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
His attraction are his Southern Gentleman ways and his determination to do what’s right. He also kills rabid dogs and is raising two great and open-minded kids alone. I’m only surprised about how he never feels like a Mary Sue, preachy or self-righteous. I wonder what type of people his wife and his parents were, they must also have been extraordinary.
1. Faramir (The Lord of the Rings)
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” (The Two Towers)
“He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judged less than his brother’s. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose.” (The Return of the King)
“Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Elder Race. […] He was a captain that men would follow, […] even under the shadow of the black wings.” (The Two Towers)
Faramir only makes his appearance in The Two Towers, but he got my attention immediately and became my biggest literary crush. Yep, I liked him even before he fell in love with Éowyn, the only 3D female character in the whole book.
That’s just the cherry on top: Faramir’s a soldier, but his father calls him “a wizard’s pupil” because Gandalf himself taught him the lore of Middle-earth. He’s noble, but human, and his need to please his father, who preferred his brother Boromir, broke my heart. He also resisted the Ring, letting Frodo and Sam go, even though he could be killed for it (“You know the laws of our country, the laws of your father. If you let them go, your life will be forfeit.”)
I’m always secretly happy when I see Aragorn or Legolas in literary crushes lists, because it means that Faramir, the scholarly soldier, is still one of the best kept open-secrets in literature ;)
So, who did I miss?