In case you missed Part 1, here’s the final group of fictional men with whom I would happily run off into the sunset.
4) Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre.
Yes, I know- the wife in the attic, the leading on of another woman, the high-handed treatment of his fiancée; he ain’t no role model. I get it. He’s messed up.
I think part of my fascination with this guy came from the fact that I identify with Jane Eyre more than I’ve identified with any other classic heroine, and he’s obviously someone she likes. So there is that level of bias. But for Rochester himself, I think what I liked most about him was that he admired Jane for her unusual nature and her passions. And I loved that he talked to her as a person, as someone who is his intellectual equal. Throughout the story, he’s struggling to cope with his past, his genuine love for Jane, the lingering conscience that tells him what he’s doing throughout the story is wrong, and I like picking out those moments on re-reads. I also think he’s a rare example of a bad boy done right- he has many faults and many problems, but he is capable of love and betterment despite his flaws. He has passion and he has a heart, even if it’s warped and twisted. I will also always have a soft spot for him as the first classical hero for whom I fell head over heels.
3) Tony Stark- known also as “Iron Man”
Yeah, I’m a Tony Stark fangirl. He employs sarcasm like a weapon of its own, is very smart and makes sure everyone knows it, and wouldn’t know tact if it Hulk-smashed him in the street. He’s an arrogant playboy superhero with almost no sense of sensitivity, and the odds of his being hungover while saving the world are astronomically high.
I love him so very much.
The obvious reason would be that he’s played by Robert Downey Jr., and though that’s a huge part of my fangirling this particular character, that’s not the only reason. I think part of the reason I find Tony Stark so interesting is that despite his arrogance and narcissistic tendencies he will do what he thinks is right. Admittedly he gets quite a lot wrong- but once the idea that he’s screwing up finally gets through his ego, he will do anything to fix it (see also: this press conference fiasco and the final battle of the Avengers).
And on another level, I like that Tony has so much trouble talking to people when he’s uncomfortable and/or doesn’t know how to cope with a situation. It adds a different layer to many of his one-liners, since sincerity is something he struggles with- whenever he’s actually in earnest, he becomes notably uncertain and rather awkward, at least in comparison to his usual self-confidence.
Highlight of Arrogance:
Reporter: “You’ve been called the da Vinci of our time. What do you say to that?”
Tony: “Absolutely ridiculous; I don’t paint.”
Reporter: “What do you say to your other nickname, ‘the merchant of death?’”
Tony: “That’s not bad.”
Highlight of Heroism:
“I shouldn’t be alive… unless it was for a reason. I’m not crazy, Pepper. I just finally know what I have to do. And I know in my heart that it’s right.”
2) Sam Vimes from the Discworld series
This guy starts off as an alcoholic, down-on-his-luck policeman in a very violent city that gets routine trouble from trolls, dwarfs, dragons, and countless other things. But he gets tougher and stronger, to the point of becoming commander of the city watch, stopping a war, and generally becoming one of the most amazing and popular characters in the series.
I have a very hard time coming up with specifics for why I like him so much. It could be that even though he tends to look at the worst in everything and yet constantly strives to make it better. It could be that he genuinely cares about law and order and wants, desperate his cynical outlook, to believe that there’s something good out there. He’s tough, can work past fears, never gives up on anything, and his wholehearted dedication to being a policeman is a thing of beauty. And he is always determined to make time to read to his kid. If that doesn’t make him swoonworthy, I do not know what would.
1) Ged from Earthsea (first three books)
When I first read A Wizard of Earthsea, I knew from the first mistake Ged made that I was going to fall for him. And it wasn’t just that when he messed things up, he did so in such grand style that he unleashed a soul-devouring shadow on the world. It was his reaction to said screw-up. He was broken by it, to the point that he struggled to re-learn his magic and fought to get a tenth of the promise he’d had before he let his pride get the better of him. And then do you know what he did? He kept learning, kept working at his magic, and became a fantastically good wizard who had learned to keep his pride in check, and who was brave enough to put his life on the line for his village by facing down a freaking dragon. A dragon that can hypnotize through just its eyes and has a long and storied history of roasting and devouring wizards and warriors.
The scene between Ged and this dragon is the best in the whole book, and at that point I knew I was completely, hopelessly in love with a fictional character and there could be no turning back. I was holding my breath during Ged’s entire conversation with Yevaud, and practically cheered when Ged was able to wrest a promise of non-aggression from the dragon.
And amazingly, he somehow grows even more amazing in terms of both personality and competence in The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore. I didn’t think that was possible, but the time I’d read those two books, I was so enamored of him that if there was a way to get to the Archipelago, I would have been out the door and on my way without a second thought.
Of course that was back when I was young and foolish. Nowadays I would be out the door after a second thought. Or possibly a third. Either way, I would still be long gone before sense had a chance to kick in.