May 25, 2022

Speed-dating Austen’s Heroes: Which Would You Marry?

Y ou are Miss Lizzy Bonnet, the tolerably-handsome, decently-educated middle-class daughter of a gentleman, and you are of marriageable age. You have been invited to a ball, and present are several eligible men, who just happen to be the heroes (and antiheroes) from Austen’s novels. You get to dance with them all, and your doting Mama, Mrs Bonnet, gives you the low-down on the eligibility of them all. At the end of the night, you must choose one to be your husband!

It should be noted that while Austen’s hero/husbands ranged from decent blokes to downright naughty playboys, she never stereotyped her characters, so you will never find any of her husbands portrayed as saintly, nor will you find evil men in her novels. Austen painted her characters with all the colours of human nature, and that means you will find a mixture of good and bad in all. Therefore, be warned; not all of Austen’s ‘good’ husbands are as decent as you think! Let the speed-dating begin!

Mr George Knightly

Occupation: Gentleman Farmer/Landowner
Income: Unspecified, but owns a large estate, from which the chief of his income is made. Is considered wealthy although strapped for ready cash.
Previous attachments: Sometimes suspected of having a ‘thing’ for his sister-in-law, Emma, as he visits the family almost daily. Admires Jane Fairfax openly.

Pros: Financially stable, hardworking. He is certainly a decent enough bloke; kind to the less fortunate, hospitable to all, he shows good judgement, is an excellent businessman, and is a good friend to those around him. He is a part time local magistrate also, which means he must be in very good standing in the community. However, I suspect that any wife of his will have to suffer his long absences from home due to work commitments and don’t expect flowers and poetry, because he is not at all romantic! If you married Mr Knightly you would live at Donwell Abbey, a not insignificant estate, and be content with a quiet, country life.

Cons: Cannot love-talk to save himself (‘if I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more—but you know what I am’), possibly could at times be accused of moral superiority and self-righteousness. Tendency to be authoritarian and slightly overbearing. Reprimands his friend Emma a lot. Would definitely wear the pants in the relationship. As previously mentioned, not home a lot as very busy.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 8.5/10

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy

Occupation: Gentleman landowner
Income: Ten Thousand a year.
Previous attachments: Unspecified. There may be a passing interest in a local girl called Eliza Bennet—he was said to have once thought her eyes ‘fine’. But they argue continuously, so its likely there is nothing between them at all!

Pros: A single man with a fortune. Said to be in want of a wife. Very picky when it comes to females, as he requires that they are ‘accomplished’. Still, could be persuaded if an exceptional woman comes along. She will have to be lively-spirited, however, for he is not into simpering, boring women.
Capable of generosity when inclined. Once gave his sister an expensive piano. Owns Pemberely, a sprawling, grand estate in Derbyshire with beautiful grounds. As Darcy’s wife you would likely enjoy the season in London each year.

Cons: Rude, snobbish and aloof. Continually gives offence to others. Has been accused of being a millionaire playboy. We don’t know his past with regard to women, but based on his highly electric conversations with Eliza Bennet, we may assume that while in the drawing room he is all moody, supercilious snobbery, he may be a lot more fun in the bedroom…hmmm…perhaps this comment belongs in the Pros section…. Still, he for the most part seems rude, distant, and emotionally unavailable, even to his family. Bossy. Tells his friends who they can and cannot marry. Has way too much influence with his friend Bingley. By the way, his relatives are all rude and snobbish also—whoever marries into this family had better have a thick skin and a sharp wit! Also, you would also have to suffer tedious visits to his odious aunt, Lady Catherine.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 8.5/10

Mr Charles Bingley

Occupation: Gentleman
Income: Five thousand a year
Previous attachments: None known. Was said previously to be rather attached to Jane Bennet, but seems to have gone off her. Maybe her relatives are too embarrassing!

Pros: Described as a man of general handsomeness, with a pleasant countenance and easy unaffected manners. He is lively and enjoys dancing. Ready to be pleased with everybody and everything, it would be hard to have any disagreements with him. Rich enough to enjoy a life of idleness, I suspect his wife would be given full rein to do as she liked, and to be as idle a creature as he seems to be. Just wants to have fun. As his wife you would loll about at Netherfield with Bingley’s sisters, drink a lot of tea, waiting for him to come back from a day’s shooting. You would probably entertain Mr Darcy, his Best Friend, frequently, and be invited to Pemberly a lot.

Cons: Easily influenced by his friends, so eager to please he may be in want of judgement, and certainly a backbone. His sisters walk all over him. Probably spoiled as a child. Especially spineless when it comes to his friend Mr Darcy, who dictates whom he should and should not marry. At 22 years he is quite naïve in many ways. A virgin, obviously. Could work for or against him. Always hanging out with Mr Darcy, like two twins joined at the hip.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 8/10

Mr John Willoughby

Occupation: Of Allenham. Idler and Gentleman.
Income: Undisclosed, but rumour has it he will inherit from his Aunt and hold two estates, making his income sizable.
Previous attachments: A seducer and womanizer, he has left a string of women in his wake. Strung poor Miss Marianne Dashwood along for some time then disappeared to London. Is now said to be engaged to Money. May have his head turned for a better proposition, one never knows!

Pros: Rich. Will own two estates. Handsome, pleasing manners, highly cultivated, enjoys poetry and art. Gallant, is able to recue maidens caught in the rain. Despite unfortunate past, has the potential to be a loyal devoted husband. Really did love Miss Marianne, and money was the only thing which prevented him from marrying her. Not a bolder rider in England. Has the nicest bitch of a pointer.

Cons: A womanizer, his wife may have to get used to possible affairs. But life with two estates from which to choose, security for life, and a pleasant, witty partner, may suffice in that case.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 8/10

Colonel Brandon

Occupation: Colonel in the army, no longer in service. Gentleman Landowner
Income: Around two thousand pounds per year
Previous attachments: Fell in love years ago with a woman who was betrothed to his brother, and never got over it. Currently has a thing for Marianne Dashwood, which is the talk of all the neighbourhood. But his interest in her is obviously unreturned, so he may look elsewhere.

Pros: Too good to be true, almost. Spurned repeatedly by Marianne, but still wants her to be happy. Dislikes his competition, but remains civil, and backs off when he thinks Marianne prefers him. The woman he once loved ended up marrying his brother and then dies, so he raises her daughter. A guy he barely knows loses his inheritance, and he offers him a rectory. Reliable in a pinch—will drop everything to rush to the aid of those close to him. Just an all-round sweet guy. Brooding and sexy. Owns Delaford, an estate of some size. His wife would live a quiet country life and have to like hearing war stories.

Cons: Appears to have no first name other than ‘Colonel’. The wrong side of thirty-five. Has rheumatism. The kind of man whom everybody speaks well of, and nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and no one remembers to talk to. Known to be grave and silent. Emotionally traumatised. Hung up on his ex. His wife would have to get use to the flannel waistcoats.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 9/10

Mr Frank Churchill

Occupation: Gentleman
Income: Heir to his aunt’s fortune, excellent prospects.
Previous attachments: Seems to have been smitten by Miss Emma Woodhouse of Highbury, but rumours have it that he is secretly engaged to some female from Weymouth!

Pros: Rich. Enjoys dancing and parties. Nice relatives. His mum likes him.

Cons: Cad. Tells lies. Selfish. Won’t tell his parents about you in case he gets disinherited. Probably won’t marry you anytime soon, for the same reason. Openly flirts with other women. A silly, trifling fellow. Vain—and weird—will go on horseback to London just for a haircut.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 6.9/10 but only because he is rich.

Captain Frederick Wentworth

Occupation: Naval Captain, Active.
Income: Twenty thousand pounds
Previous attachments: Was once suspected of having an attachment to one of the pleasant but one-dimensional Musgrove girls, but she has since married another, and so Frederick is unshackled and free, and will have to begin all over again.

Pros: Rich. Hard working. Brave. Polite to a fault. Respected in his profession. Will probably be awarded a baronetcy within the twelve-month. Has a really nice sister and lots of fun naval friends. Would fetch anything from the end of the world for his best friend. Likes to joke and tease. More ‘air’ than one usually sees in Bath. Writes really romantic love letters.

Cons: Resentful and ungallant, holds grudges for years. Prone to fickleness. Won’t have a woman aboard a ship. Half agony, half hope.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 9/10

Mr Henry Crawford

Occupation: Professional Idler
Income: Undisclosed, but rich enough. Has a large property in Norfolk from which his income is derived.
Previous attachments: Has flirted with the Bertram girls, and Fanny Price, but no serious attachments known. Unless you count his sister.

Pros: Rich. Irresistibly attractive to women. A charmer. Flirtatious and fun. Lively and pleasant. Devoted to his sister. Could make a good husband for someone who can handle him. His wife would enjoy country summers, and seasons in Town with no expense spared. His sister Mary seems pleasant enough. As his wife you would have to get used to her living on your doorstep. Likes naughty plays. Probably fun in bed.

Cons: An actor, plays whatever part is required to make the ladies fall for him, plays with the hearts of females then leaves them hanging. Narcissistic. Will probably be a cheater. Lacks emotional depth. Says anything to get what he wants.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 7.5/10

Mr Edward Ferrars

Occupation: Gentleman, wishes to go into the church.
Income: A semi-pittance of 850 pounds per year if he does not marry to please his mother.
Previous attachments: Was for a time secretly engaged to the niece of his old school master, but she has since broken the engagement and betrothed herself to his older brother.

Pros: Sweet, if you like timid, insipid men. Quiet – always a good thing. Honorable. So insipid that there’s not much more to be said.

Cons: Exceedingly boring when reading poetry. Clumsy and inarticulate when expressing his feelings. Excessively shy. Idle. Lacks spine. Was too scared to stand up to his family when he became engaged to Lucy Steele. Under the thumb of his sister. Let the woman he actually loves arrange his marriage to her rival. Lacks artistic taste, no idea of the picturesque. His wife will have to endure his unpleasant and snobbish family members. If he marries against his mother’s will, his wife will have to endure a quiet country life as the wife of a country parson. Thinks the Nile is located in South America.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 7/10

Mr Henry Tilney

Occupation: Clergyman, has the living at Woodston.
Income: Undisclosed, but he is said to have one of independence and comfort— has an extremely rich family from which he will further benefit on his father’s death.
Previous attachments: None known, but he has been seen walking at Beechen Cliff with a young friend of his sister’s.

Pros: Gentlemanlike, thoughtful and kind. Witty and charming when he wants to be. Doesn’t take himself too seriously (eg. reads Gothic novels for fun). Well-rounded man of the world. Adores his sister. Treats his unpleasant and overhearing father with respect. Knows his duty. Not prone to jealousy at all. Dry sense of humour. Loyal to a fault. Knows muslin.

Cons: Definitely a chauvinist. Sarcastic and patronizing. Irritatingly eager to ‘educate’ his protégés—guilty of ‘mansplaining’. Takes teasing too far. A bit spineless and wishy-washy—will marry the first person who comes along who likes him. Annoyingly particular about using the word ‘nice’. Reverts to taking the moral high ground when irritated. Can appear supercilious and unkind. Satirizes everything! Prefers innocent, uninformed females that will hang off his every word, defers to his authority, and agree to think only the thoughts he dictates! His wife will have a comfortable life at Woodston as a parson’s wife, but will have to put up with his thinking he knows best in every matter.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 8/10

Mr Edmund Bertram

Occupation: Gentleman but has recently taken his orders to enter the church.
Income: Has the Living at Thornton Lacey, with its income of 700pounds. If he succeeds to the Mansfield Living also upon the death of Dr Grant, his income will double to 1400pounds per year, a not inconsiderate sum to live upon.
Previous attachments: Thought to be somewhat attached to Miss Mary Crawford, Henry Crawford’s sister, a conniving and scheming female from the city who thinks the profession of Clergyman too low for her standards. We are all wondering what on earth he sees in her! Room for another, more deserving female to nab him.

Pros: Kind-hearted on the whole. Treats his sisters with respect, and his live-in cousin, Fanny, with great kindness—most of the time. Thoughtful—most of the time. Principled and highly moral. Probably why he is secretly attracted to bad girls.

Cons: Boringly solemn, serious and moralistic. Bad judge of character. Forever sermonizing and ‘educating’ those around him, irritatingly blind to the motives of others, prone to deferring to his family. Constantly talks of God, house frontages, and horses. Blind to the feelings of others. Selfish—once made his poor, sickly cousin Fanny give up her riding lessons for his own selfish pursuit of Mary Crawford. Would probably be good mates with Edward Ferrars.

Mama Bonnet’s Eligibility Score: 7.5/10

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