We have discussed classic literature and romance in previous blog posts, and while we have touched upon some of the male characters, this blog post will be a more comprehensive list of best male love interests.
Gilbert Blythe from L.M. Montogomery’s Anne of Green Gables
Okay now Gilbert is one of my absolute favorite fiction crushes. Gilbert and Anne start on the wrong foot and it takes them a while before Anne is able to forgive Gilbert for calling her “Carrots”. But all throughout that time Gilbert works really hard to help Anne achieve her goals. He saves her when she gets stuck under the bridge when Anne’s misadventures go awry. He gives up the Avonlea school so she could stay with Marilla and really just grows into being a loving and devoted husband and father.
Colonel Brandon from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen is pretty much the reigning queen of classic romance, and true to an Austen hero, Colonel Brandon is the picture of patience and decency. His is also a tragic backstory! Once upon a time the Colonel loved Eliza. She didn’t return his feelings *of course* and he eventually ended up taking care of Eliza’s child, and as a heroic figure attempts to defend her honor and that of Marianne. Marianne of course, thinks he is old and uninteresting and takes the entirety of the book to realize that Colonel Brandon is sweet and awesome and superdy-duper patient and pretty much the best.
Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Be still my beating heart! Fitzwilliam Darcy is arguably the best male love interest in Austen literature. He is also super relatable in a lot of ways: awkward, shy, resting angry face....And per usual it takes an entire novel for the heroine to recognize that he is the literal best. Admittedly, he is prideful at times throughout the novel and has some very rude family members (looking at you, Lady Catherine). This kind of makes him the perfect match for Elizabeth, though, because she is prideful and sassy and has some shockingly embarrassing family members. But back to Darcy! He tracks down her wayward sister, saves her family’s reputation, and doesn’t murder the dude who ran off with her little sister and had broken his little sister’s heart in the past. So….self- control.
Also when asked how he ever fell in love with Elizabeth, he says, “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It was too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
Theodore Laurence from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
Teddy is so interesting because of his growth as a character. He starts out as an inattentive student but tries to be better because he likes Jo and wants her to like him too. Then when she is like “Nope!” when he proposes; he jumps off the moral deep end and starts exploring this world of male privilege and starts drinking, gambling, traveling, and flirting with anything with two legs. Then he runs into Amy who in all the awesomeness of a childhood friend calls him on his crap and tells him to grow up and make something of himself and he does and becomes the man that Amy deserves.
Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion
I truly love Captain Wentworth. He is such a dependable personality because he works himself through the navy's ranks, makes his own fortune and makes a name for himself as opposed to all the spendy gambling dudes who just want to marry someone so they can spend and gamble some more. Backstory: He and Anne were on the verge of being engaged when they were both young before he worked through the ranks and became a captain, and the meddling neighbor next door ruined it. Then seven years later he comes back to visit his sister and her husband when they rent Anne’s father’s estate… series of events… blah blah blah, begins to realize Anne isn’t a prude and begins to get less mad that she rejected him. He overhears her telling his best friend why women tend to be more steadfast than men, joys of all the old rules of decorum.Then he madly starts writing her a letter basically says “ I have loved you for always, please look, nod… whatever you feel comfortable doing let me know how you feel, thumbs up lets be engaged, thumbs down I will never look at you or come around you again.”
Mr. Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South
At the start of the novel, John Thornton is the kind of guy your mother hopes you marry: Rich, hard working, owns his own company, honest and respectable. But all that hard work and self-made-ness hardens him to the point where he is the kind of guy you want to punch and hug at the same time: a pug if you will. Or a hunch? Either way, he is prideful and penny pinching and not all-together super nice to Margaret or his employees at the beginning of the novel. Can he justify being a little grumpy, though? Yes.
Again, the relationship between Mr. Thornton and Margaret is full of misunderstandings and leaving and coming back and no small amount of work. They kind of fall in love without overtly stating “THEY ARE FALLING IN LOVE” which is pretty much how real life works, and I can appreciate this.
Faramir from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Tolkien is the master of backstories, and there is a THICK backstory with Faramir. The quick version is that Faramir is the son of a power-hungry madman who doesn’t like that his son (Faramir) is nice and kind and doesn’t like killing people. Weird, right? Faramir proves himself to be the opposite of his dad and was injured during a battle. He is sweet and sensitive and does his best to fight for that which he believes is right. Then, he meets this strong, independent woman who is “no man”, and loves her and lets her be her best self! He doesn’t relegate her to the fringes of things or tell her that her place is in the house like every other stinking person did. He is not saving Eowyn like some damsel in distress, but is her equal. And to add a little bit of gooey, “And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.” CUTE!
Gabriel Oak from Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd
Gabriel Oak is such a solid character, now initially he got off on the wrong foot with Bathsheba but over the course of the story he continues to love her and support her as she goes through the struggles in her life. Gabriel experiences his own struggles over the course of the story and while he is rejected by his love and becomes penniless when his sheepdog runs his sheep off the edge of a cliff he does not allow these hard times to make him bitter or cruel. When Bathsheba marries another he respectfully backs off but he is there when she needs him.
These are our favorites. Feel free to comment below and tell us yours!
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!