I’ve been reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
Like many, the romanticism of the Scottish Highlands and the unerringly dashing Jamie Fraser was a lovely escape from real life.
Coming back to earth after the book, I reflected that being with a romantic hero in a time-travelling historical novel was all well and good, but could our Scottish gallant really cut it in the real world? Could any romantic lead from literature (that we *might* compare our own good men to) really be as swooningly amazing in 2018?
Here's my analysis of the top romantic gentlemen in literature.
Jamie Fraser - a man who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer
Jamie Fraser is a red-headed, hot-blooded, intelligent yet gentle Scotsman, who marries a woman (Claire) who has travelled back in time to the 1700s.
If you stripped away the historical detail and time-travelling fantasy of this series, you would be left with a bodice-ripping soft porn book for women.
I’m not quite sure how Claire and Jamie manage to get anything done. They seem to be having sex anywhere and everywhere. In the heathers, beside the campfire, next to creeks, on fences and in underground springs.
Which is fine and dandy if you’re travelling around the Scottish Highlands or whiling away your time in the castle grounds, but not entirely practical if you’re working full time and have to get the kids to school.
Plus, there’s the small issue of consent.
“Gentle he would be, denied he would not.”
I have a feeling Jamie could have learnt a few things from the #metoo movement.
Fitzwilliam Darcy – rich and aloof
The image of Colin Firth in his dripping wet shirt has persuaded women everywhere that Mr Darcy in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is a romantic lead worth pining for.
I understand the hard-to-get appeal of Darcy. His broody dark good looks and his enormous fortune. But I’m not buying that he’s the best choice for life partner.
For starters, unless you’re a member of the royal family or the British aristocracy, it’s unlikely that you’d ever be able to get him to come along to a family BBQ without him disdaining the sausages and chops served at lunch.
He sounds like a deeply unpleasant man, one you would spend your life apologising for - to soccer coaches, primary school teachers and other acquaintances.
Mr Bennet’s last words to his daughter on the matter of marriage to Darcy are hardly encouraging: "We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him."
The blush of new love may be enough to obscure that unpleasantness, but I’m fairly sure that after one or two children, it would be harder to ignore.
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Edward Cullen – mysterious and drop-dead good-looking
Having a relationship with someone who’s around 100 years old but still impossibly attractive sounds like fun. Imagine the stories he’d have to share! You’d have so much to talk about. Plus, no one would think he’s your father.
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vampires can’t sleep and they don’t get sizzled in the sun. Edward Cullen has amassed a fortune during his time as the non-dead, so he doesn’t have to work. Definitely a host of parental benefits there. He could be the ideal stay-at-home dad.
That is if he doesn’t eat you first.
I accept that vampires have become romantic figures, thanks to other authors like Anne Rice. But I think we should all take a step back and understand the impracticalities of living with someone who also wants to drink your blood.
Gilbert Blythe – the winner
Gilbert Blythe from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables was many a girl’s first crush. Dark brown curly hair, dreamy hazel eyes. He started out as a bit of a knob (calling Anne “carrots” and pulling her hair) but grew up to be a dependable, intelligent and constant friend of Anne.
Of all the romantic heroes in literature, I think Gilbert is the one who could actually make the ideal partner.
His love for Anne is unswerving – through all her flights of fancy, her ambitions and outright rejection of him. He’s not intimidated by her intelligence and he’s always there to support her.
In terms of his personal characteristics, he’s smart, diligent, patient and kind. He also has a good sense of humour.
But of course, he is pure fiction too.
Fantasy has its part to play in life. We all need a bit of escapism in an existence punctuated by bills, snotty children and a partner who leaves his towel on the bathroom floor.
Reading a book about relationships taking a lot of work, deep breathing and sacrifice isn’t the stuff of dreams. It’s reality.
But if your reality comes with something of the Gilbert Blythe – then I think you’ve got a good deal.
I know I do.
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