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Holding Out for a Hero by Marilyn Brant — 69 Comments

  1. John Thornton from North and South! Even though I’ve read the book, I confess that it’s the screen version of Mr. Thornton that I prefer.

  2. I love that you included Gilbert Blythe, Marilyn! I think so many of us who read the Anne series as young women had crushes of some sort on him. I mean why not! He was funny, cute, and loved Anne beyond reason. He was not a flashy hero by any means, but quiet and was a hero by small gestures that meant a lot. I honestly don’t think Jonathan Crombie could ever be improved upon as Gil. He was Gilbert Blythe. He fit the part to a “t.”

    There are quite a few great heroes in literature–both male and female. I loved that in the Harry Potter series, so many of her characters were heroes. None of them were perfect, but they fought for what was right. I also loved Scout and Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

    • Oh, Leslie, I so agree with you!!
      I don’t know what feat of theatrical magic another actor would need to tap into in order to improve upon Crombie’s “Gil”… He embodied that character for me, too, and I’m still so sad that the world has lost him. (I definitely shared your crush on him!)
      You also mentioned some wonderful heroes from other stories. Ahhh, Atticus. He’s so beloved. 😉 And you’re right — the Harry Potter books are packed with fabulous characters. Thanks for reminding me of them!

  3. I think you’ve hit the crux of the matter there, Marilyn, all the best heroes love and respect their heroines, and are able to do something selfless for the sake of somebody else. Gilbert Blythe is a good example of an everyday hero. I quite like some of Georgette Heyer’s heroes too. I think the big gesture, saving Lydia for for Elizabeth’s sake is probably what edges Mr Darcy into first place of Austen’s heroes for me. I love Mr Knightley’s gentlemanliness and his determination to be Emma’s friend even if he’ll never be anything more. Sigh!

    • Ceri,
      Thank you 😉 .
      And, yes (!!) to everything you said, especially about Gilbert being an “everyday hero.” To me, that’s one of the things I loved best about his character…that he was an example of a man who wasn’t in the position of needing to be a swashbuckling sort of rescuer, but that he showed his heroism in a very real way. A way that other men could emulate. As for Darcy, I so agree. He showed true change and growth as a direct result of his love for Lizzy, and acted on that, without thinking of himself. I can’t imagine someone not admiring that…

  4. I do agree with Ceri’s observations….our favorite heroes are selfless. My first heroes were King Arthur and Robin Hood. I’ve always loved Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Robin Hood. Then came Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables, and Curly in Oklahoma. For the longest time it became the Phantom as he gave up Christine in the end. But a few years ago when my DH introduced me to Darcy, well, enough said. (Sigh) There are more, but all were selfless in one way or another(I . know…fickle)

    • Deborah,
      I don’t think you’re fickle!! I think we’re allowed to fall in love with as many fictional heroes as we’d like…one hero after another or simultaneously!! That’s one of the perks of being a reader 🙂 .
      And I loved the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, too! When I was teaching, one of my colleagues and I were talking about that film, and it turned out that my friend was the first cousin of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who played Maid Marian in the movie… I was blown away!!

      • I do agree with you Marilyn that Kevin Costner is my absolute favorite Robin Hood. Your friend being a first cousin to the actress that plagued Maid Marian is so cool. Thank uoi for letting me know I am not fickle. I also love the Scaelet Pimpernel. Had to read all of Baroness Orczy’s books.

          • I did see your comment a while ago about Side/Percy players by Anthony Andrews a while aho . You posted on Facebook I believe. I just couldn’t remember who posted it. 🙂

  5. Lucky you, Marilyn, to meet Diana Gabaldon!! I’m really in awe of her books, at least, though I haven’t yet seen the series.

    I agree that to be heroic a hero has to be willing to make a big sacrifice for the heroine. Darcy’s sacrifice is particularly romantic in that he specifically doesn’t want to take the credit and if it wasn’t for Lydia and her big mouth Lizzy would never have known. Wow! That is such a noble and self-less gesture!

    • Outlander: Oh, the series is red hot. If you don’t like MA, you will have to completely skip some episodes but if you read the books you know that. I am so envious that you met the author.

      • Sheila,
        Agreed! There are MANY scenes that are intended for mature audiences only. The love scenes aren’t an issue for me (not at all!), although they may be for some viewers. The violence/blood is harder for me to stomach, though, and there are some segments where I’ve had to look away from the screen for a bit…

    • Thanks, Monica!
      It was truly a pleasure to finally meet her…I’d been looking forward to it for *months* so the long drive to Bowling Green was well worth it 😉 . I’ve been a fan of Diana’s books for a while, too, and though there are differences between the novels and the series, I think you’ll really enjoy the way most of the story is portrayed on film. The acting is stellar (!!) and the attention to detail is awe-inspiring. The fact that Diana is a consultant for the show is, I’m sure, a big part of that. One of the things she talked about was how she’d get to review the scripts for each episode and see the dailies as they were filmed. Must be so fascinating to see one’s most beloved characters brought to life that way!

  6. Scarfice for a true hero has to be both physical and emotional. All of the mentioned men were heros. They scarficed (or thought they had) the woman they loved for her well being. Of course Darcy and LIzzy, but Jamie Fraser is willing to return Claire to her own time, not once but twice (spoiler alert for some of you). Gilbert Blythe knew that Anne had to experience the world and he let her go to “find” herself. All of these men, trully loved these women and that makes them more heroic than any Terminator. And of course Knightley, who suffers while Emma flirts with Frank Churchill. Thanks so much Marilyn for this great commentary. I really envy your meeting with Diana Galbadon. Having seen several of her interviews I would love to just talk with her. Now I will call my hero.

    • Maggie,
      You’re so right about how all of these heroic men loved their women enough to let them go…to put their beloved’s happiness above their own. *sigh* It’s truly a beautiful, although heartbreaking, thing to see during that part of each of those stories.
      And thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post! Meeting Diana and getting to chat with her for even a few minutes was lovely, and she was so kind to everyone there. I hope she’ll be at an event close to you sometime soon so you can meet her, too!

  7. Edmond as played by Jim Cavezel in the movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

    I also like Percy in the Pimpernel series by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. Her series of books has a male lead who makes a fool of himself many times to save lives.

    • Patty,
      I’d forgotten about Edmond! I’m so glad you mentioned him!
      And, it was only because it didn’t want this post to go on for 10 pages that I didn’t write about Sir Percy Blakeney. 😉 I *love* that character!! I’d read many of the novels, but the way Anthony Andrews portrayed him in the movie still takes my breath away. One of my favorites!!

      • I do love Anthony Andrews version of it. I have also seen a British version that did several of the books. I cannot think of the actor who played Blakeney, but the Frenchman is the actor who plays Inspector George Gently, a British cop show.

  8. Very timely post, Marilyn, with Jonathan Crombie’s recent death. How sad that was! I just got AofGG on DVD this past Christmas (previously owned it on video) and watched it again after not having seen it for several years. Still loved it. Just like P&P, I can watch it again and again. How wonderful it must be to be the author who fashioned these heroes initially. Too bad there are more of them.

    • Kara,
      I was so stunned when I heard about Crombie’s death. We were driving back from SOKY, and I saw the sad news on my phone. I said, “Oh, no!” so loudly that I had my husband worried… Both of us had really enjoyed the “Anne” films, and I’d read much of the series. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a movie marathon, though. I need to do that! Like you said, it’s similar to P&P for me as well, in that I never get tired of seeing it. Glad you got to watch it again so recently 😉 .

  9. Thanks for your post. I too was saddened to read of Crombie’s death. 48 is still very young. Loved the Anne of Green Gables series. ~Jen Red~

    • Jen, I know… He was far too young. All that’s been announced was that he’d had a brain hemorrhage and that it was sudden. My heart goes out to his family and everyone who knew him personally. He seemed as wonderful in real life as the character he so famously portrayed.

  10. I have always loved Anne and my 9 year old niece loves to read as much as I so I have given her my Anne books with their dogeared pages. It just thrills my little heart to see her loving those things as much as I did so many years ago. I can’t wait until she’s a little older and I can introduce her to Austen’s works.

    • Stephanie,
      What an awesome auntie you are!!
      Well done introducing your niece to Anne this early! I suspect, if she loves those stories, she’ll love JA’s books, too. You’ll have to keep us posted 🙂 .

  11. Ruark Beauchamp in Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was one of my first fictional heroes. There are many in real life: Noah Galloway, partial amputee (due to war wounds), dancing on DWTS is one so handsome and brave dude, much less a hero for our country.

    I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables – guess I have to do that.

    • Sheila, you really should, the Anne of Green Gables series is wonderful. In fact, I’ve read quite a few books by L M Montgomery and enjoyed them all. When I had to choose some books to put in storage I couldn’t bear to be parted from my ‘Anne’ books, they were among those I made space for on my bookcase.

    • Sheila,
      I second Ceri’s comments about reading Anne of Green Gables — the entire series is delightful and beautifully written 😉 .
      And I love that you mentioned a real-life hero! Noah from DWTS is so amazing and courageous (and, yes, very handsome, too!).

  12. I loved Anne and Gilbert. Those characters and the actors who put them on the screen are enchanting. I think equally enchanting are Jane Austen’s other leading men. I am drawn to Edmond Dantès in the Count of Monte Cristo a tragic hero, Max de Winter in Rebecca who loves his wife but holds it in, Count Almasy in the English Patient another tragic hero, maybe the principled Atticus Finch, oh! what about Father Ralph in the Thornbirds. They are all heroic in some way no?

    • Cindy,
      You’re definitely not alone!! You’ve chosen some excellent heroes 😉 .
      I read To Kill a Mockingbird before I saw Gregory Peck in the film, but I think Peck’s performance made Atticus even more memorable to me. Then again, I could watch Gregory Peck in almost anything and be moved… He was just so talented. While it was a much lighter film than Mockingbird, I thought Peck’s character in “Roman Holiday” was heroic, too — LOVED him in that as well!

  13. I have to say that my first hero I admired after Mr. Darcy was Rhett Butler. In my defense, I was 17 and had just seen Gone With The Wind and then read the book. I further admired him later in Scarlett and Rhett Butler’s People. Anne of Green Gables in on my list, and will now have to be moved up. i also agree with Max de Winter although I liked him better in the book than the movie.

    • Lisa,
      You’re inspiring me to read Rebecca 😉 . I only know Max de Winter from the film — it’s a book that’s long been on my TBR list!
      As for Gone with the Wind, I can’t remember now if I read the book first and then watched the movie, or if it was the other way around…I just remember that I was in junior high then and, like you, found Rhett to be an absolutely intriguing hero!!

  14. What a wonderful post, Marilyn. You are correct that these three men have outstanding qualities in common. That they put the needs of the woman in their lives ahead of their own desires is a standard that women want men to live up to. A man who sacrifices, who is a man of principle is a manly man. Who wouldn’t love them! Thanks again. Well done, Marilyn.

    One of my favorite movie/book heroes is Matthew Cuthbert. I fell in love with him a little from the same mini-series Mr. Crombie was in. My heart broke when his character died. It still makes me cry when I watch it.

    • Joy,
      Thank you so much!! I’m delighted you liked the post 😉 .
      What you said here sums it up beautifully: “A man who sacrifices, who is a man of principle is a manly man.” *swoon* YES!
      I cried when Matthew Cuthbert died, too… That part when Anne is apologizing for not being more help to him out in the fields is so beautiful and touching. “If I’d been the boy you sent for, I could have spared you in so many ways,” she said. But he replied, “I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don’t ever change. I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.”
      *tears*

  15. Besides the three you’ve mentioned, (and Gilbert Blythe has long been on my list; I’ve always adored the Anne books–I love that even after years of marriage, he still calls her “Anne-girl”), I do have quite a list.

    For me, the Byronic hero Edward Fairfax Rochester from Jane Eyre is one of my favorites. In fact, he may even rival Mr. Darcy. His change is more dramatic–a physical change as well as a moral change. He was willing to sacrifice societal norms for his love for Jane by marrying her while married to the “madwoman in the attic”; obviously, he was twisted by the events of his life–events that wereno fault of his, yet he allowed his bitterness and hate to sully the love of a pure and devoted woman. I have never admired a female character more than when Jane leaves love behind and flees Thornfield Hall. But his change when she returns nearly a year later–not just the blindness and the loss of his hand (hearkening back to the Biblical adage (symbolic of course) to pluck out one’s eye and cut off one’s hand rather than to sin), but his sincere repentance mark him for a truly good man willing to be molded by the results of his sins and errors. Never has a sentence in literature thrilled me more than the simple sentence after Jane’s return to her beloved, “Reader, I married him.”

    Back in Austenland, Colonel Brandon is another I admire. Willing to wait for Marianne, willing to comfort her in the loss of her (supposed) beloved Willoughby, willing to do anything when she is deathly ill, he is a hero in every sense of the word. Never has Austen created a more upright and admirable character than Colonel Brandon.

    And, I don’t want to hear the titters and the jokes, but Twilight’s Edward Cullen is another created from the Byronic hero mold. Twilight is not great literature, but I can see the seeds of Mr. Darcy, Mr.Rochester, and the Byronic hero in his character. Imperfect though he may be, he can and does change despite his own vampire being which rarely changes once transformed from human form. Love changes him, much as lve changed Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, and yes, even Jamie Fraser.

    That’s my list…although I could go on…. 😉

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    • Susanne,
      I *love* your long list!!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to think about my question and to share your favorites 🙂 .
      You’re not the first person to tell me their love of Rochester rivals even that of Darcy… It’s interesting to me because I probably read Jane Eyre too young and certainly before I was ready for it. (Rochester scared me as a kid, LOL. He grew on me eventually, though. It helped seeing Maggie Smith’s son, Toby Stephens, in the role — wow!)
      And I’d totally agree with you on Col. Brandon. He’s actually my favorite character from S&S. A truly heroic man…
      As for Edward Cullen, you won’t get any jeers from me 🙂 . I’m not a big reader/viewer of vampire stories, although I did get caught up in “The Vampire Diaries” for a few seasons (largely because of Ian Somerhalder — mmm!) and I did read all of the Twilight books. I found the arc of E.C.’s character to be pretty fascinating. You’re right, he *does* change as a result of falling in love, and it’s pretty clear throughout the series that he’s willing to make sacrifices for Bella’s sake…

    • I’m not embarrassed to say that I like Edward Cullen too! I just haven’t thought about Twilight lately, or I might have listed him too. I’m too busy swooning over Richard Armitage these days!

  16. Darcy since I was 18 with a fervent renewal of my vows with the 1995 P&P mini-series. Jamie Fraser since 2003. I also loved John Thornton after seeing the mini-series, but he is not on the same platform as Darcy and Jamie. I sometimes thought about who I would prefer to marry of the two, and I can honestly say that the only thing that pushes me over to Darcy is the self-knowledge that I would be happier as Mistress of Pemberley than living rough and constantly in danger as Claire must. I’m too big a wimp in the end. If all things were equal I think I might have to choose Jamie, mainly for his sense of humor and his ability to say the most romantic and emotional things to his wife whereas Darcy is a man of few words and not known for his sense of humor. I know this is sacrilege at this website, but you did ask! 🙂

    Seriously, both P&P and Outlander should be mandatory reading for every young man who wants to know what it means to be a man and how to treat a woman.

    • LOL, Rae!!
      Yes, I *did* ask, and I loved reading your response 😀 .
      Totally with you on the preference for living at Darcy’s Pemberley vs. at Lallybrock (or, quite possibly, somewhere in the Scottish wilderness in a makeshift tent). Not sure I would’ve done very well on horseback for more than an hour either — though if Jamie were holding me up, it would help!
      I love Jamie’s sense of humor, too, which is a characteristic of Henry Tilney’s that makes me appreciate him as an Austen hero. Henry also stands up to his father to follow his heart and be with Catherine, which very much impressed me about him. I’d agree that Darcy isn’t known for his sense of humor, especially early on in P&P, but I’ve always imagined that, once he becomes secure in Elizabeth’s love for him, he lightens up even more and catches his wife’s playful spirit more often! 😉

  17. You know, Marilyn, just like you I am a new convert to the world of Outlander. What reading book 1 a few years back couldn’t, the TV series has achieved. I’m totally hooked. So, what can I say? I’m reading book 5 right now, and I’m kind of obsessed with Jamie Fraser and his charms.
    However, I love John Thornton too, and North and South is my favourite Victorian novel.
    I deeply admire Captain Wentworth and my fondness for him has always surpassed my liking all the other Austen heroes, even Mr Darcy.
    Last but not least, I can’t resist Captain Poldark either. He is such a fascinating character. So you see, most of my favourite characters are from the 18th century. If I came to travel back in time, I’d have no doubts on which period to choose! 😉

    • Maria Grazia~
      I’ve been so compelled by the “Outlander” stories in recent years! I first heard Diana G. speak at the RWA Conference in NYC in the summer of 2011 and got the first book in the series then…but I didn’t read it immediately. Several of my friends were talking about “Jamie…this” and “Jamie…that” and I was, like, “Who is this Jamie guy?!” LOL. So, like you, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with JAMMF — and I agree that the TV episodes have really brought that wonderful character to life!!
      And I second your admiration for Captain Wentworth 😉 . He doesn’t edge his way ahead of Darcy for me, but he’s THE reason Persuasion is my second favorite Austen novel…and he writes the BEST letters ever!

  18. It has been wonderful reading about everyone’s favorite heroes. I certainly agree with so many, narrowed to those I am familiar with: John Thornton, Colonel Brandon, Gregory Peck in so many wonderful roles, Captain Wentworth, Robin Hood- although my fave version is the OLD series with Richard Greene (grew up with him as a kid on TV and the reruns for years & now I have all the eps on DVD), and of course Darcy! But I have to admit that my longest running admiration for a hero is for Clark Kent/Superman (I still have comics from the 60’s up to recently) although I have mixed feelings about some of the actors who have played the role, I have liked many! And superpowers are so much fun, too! I also have to admit that I was avidly into the Superman online fanfiction before I became aware of Austen fanfiction, all thanks to my going overboard for Darcy in the 1995 series!

    • I forgot to mention I agree totally on Gilbert Blythe, too. And I’m sure there are others I haven’t remembered yet. Oh and how could I forget my other favorite of Robin Hood-Errol Flynn!

    • Evelyn,
      I’ve got half a mind to watch Robin Hood again this weekend, especially after reading about so many wonderful versions of that story!! I’ve seen the Errol Flynn film, but I don’t believe I’ve seen the series with Richard Greene… Thanks for telling me about it. Must look that one up!
      And, oh, Superman!! I had a crush on Christopher Reeve in the role (along with about 10 million other women, I’m sure). He played the part beautifully, IMO. But I know there are other great performers for Clark Kent out there…and, yes, the comics are so fun, too!
      🙂

      • Yes, indeed! And oh… also if you have never seen Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood”, I believe that is my very favorite of his movies? And Anthony Andrews in “Ivanhoe” & “Scarlet Pimpernel”. Oh, so many wonderful heroes! Sigh

        • Evelyn,
          I’ve made it my mission to see Anthony Andrews in *almost everything* he’s ever done, LOL! The Scarlet Pimpernel will always be my favorite, but I loved him in Ivanhoe and in Danger UXB and, of course, in Brideshead Revisited. I was so excited when he showed up in The King’s Speech!!
          Anyway, yes…so many wonderful heroes. And I’ll add Flynn’s “Captain Blood” to my to-watch list now, too!! 😉

  19. Aaah! Spoiler warnings, please! I just started the Outlander series. o.O

    I won’t comment on heroes already listed here (I saw some I wholeheartedly agree with, some I couldn’t disagree with more, and some I’d never heard of), but I will add that I am also partial to Jay Gatsby, Cyrano de Bergerac, Romeo Montague, Jean Valjean, László de Almásy (The English Patient), Edmond Dantès, Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings), and all of the Musketeers. 🙂

    (I just realized that Edmond Dantès was, in fact, mentioned above, but I’ll leave him in anyway.)

    When I was a teenager I used to read the V.C. Andrews books on my mom’s bookshelf, and I loved Christopher Foxworth and Troy Tatterton….but you have to kind of be able to ignore the incest that runs rampant in those stories to appreciate the romantic leads.

    • Lena,
      Hope you’re enjoying Outlander!! I haven’t read all the books yet, but I’ve made a good dent in the series…
      And I love your list of heroes! I was always partial to the Musketeers myself — handsome, brave men with swords! What’s not to appreciate about that, right?
      I read V.C. Andrews as a teen, too, and found Christopher very interesting, but, as you said, it’s got some dark material… Still, I was compelled enough to get through the first few books. I haven’t seen the recent film, but I’m curious about how they’ve portrayed the characters and the disturbing situation they were put in.
      As for Aragorn, SWOON! I’ve seen Viggo Mortensen in a bunch of different roles, but this one was my hands-down favorite of his 🙂 .

      • I am enjoying Outlander so far, although I have to admit I kind of find myself on Team Frank. I just feel so bad for him! But maybe that will change as I progress through the series.

        You’re totally right about musketeers. 😉 If you haven’t yet checked out the new BBC series (titled “The Musketeers”), you definitely should! It’s excellent.

        I actually did watch the recent Flowers in the Attic film (as well as the sequel, Petals on the Wind – I haven’t gotten around to the last two yet). Surprisingly, I liked it. It wasn’t nearly as dark as the book (which I expected, as it was made for TV), but the presentation was better than I thought it was going to be.

        • Lena,
          Ohhh! I didn’t know there was a new BBC series featuring the Musketeer!! Excellent! Thank you for telling me 🙂 .
          And I’m so glad to hear that you liked the Flowers in the Attic movie. I knew there were some strong actors in those roles, so my biggest concern was how the writers/director would handle the material. I’m pleased to hear that you thought they did a good job with it!

  20. I definitely vote for Atticus Finch – especially in the book – as an amazing hero. And if you like Gregory Peck (and who doesn’t??), I would have to commend watching his character in “The Big Country” – a western with Burl Ives, Jean Simmons, and a bunch of others. He was the quiet hero who did the right thing in the face of his spoiled fiancee and her mean father!

    • Kathy,
      I *love* Gregory Peck (for proof, I’ll refer you to the opening paragraph of my romance Double Dipping 🙂 ) so I’ll definitely have to watch him in The Big Country!! My husband, who’s also a Peck fan, has most likely seen it – he loves westerns – and would want to watch it again… Thanks so much for the recommendation – I’ll add it to my movie list!

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