Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Makes a Gentleman?

There has been much discussion about the appearance of a modern day gentleman on this blog and elsewhere and rightfully so. The dapper appearance and savvy style have garnered much attention and admiration for decades. What isn't nearly discussed are the other facets of the gentleman character. Without any sort of conduct for behavior or purpose in life, a well-dressed man is just that, a well-dressed man, he is not however, a gentleman.

To be a gentleman, in both the historical sense and today, is to aspire to a greater manhood than the average man. Brad Miner in his book Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry delves into this philosophy, bringing to light the main components that make up the gentleman.

First, Knights, with their code of honor, can be considered the first gentlemen. Their willingness to defend and if need be, die for the honor of country or fellow citizen is the bedrock of which the rest of gentlemanship is founded upon.

Second, make no mistake, the gentleman is a warrior but he is also a lover. The romantic gentleman was ahead of his time, positioning women as equals not subordinates. The gentleman also has a love of knowledge, which Miner equates to that of a monk. The monk also symbolises restraint, a characteristic that places the gentleman above whims of emotional outburst.

The 21st Century Gentleman isn't only concerned with fashion or style. To be so would be tacky and unbecoming. And while his appearance is the topic of many conversations, it is his deeds that create the most lasting impression.