PULP RANKED: The Top 5 Daddies of Literature from the Regency and Victorian Periods
By Madeline Ward
Are these men and their relationships really the model of masculinity and romance that we should be fantasising over? Probably not, but who cares! Why would anyone lust after the kind, tender, but ultimately boring Mr Bingley when they have Mr Darcy emerging dripping wet from the lake at Pemberley? Male romantic interests as written by Elizabeth Gaskell, Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Bronte sisters are handsome, moody, emotionally repressed assholes that women have swooned over for 200 years and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Reader, I thirsted over him.
5. William Ladislaw
Middlemarch, George Eliot (1871)
Will Ladislaw didn’t do much for me in the book, but Rufus Sewell as Will Ladislaw did everything for me in the TV miniseries. He’s a brooding, agonised mess through which we can understand issues of social and political reform in Victorian England. Deepening our understanding of historical politics AND getting to drool over a young Rufus Sewell while we do it? Yes thanks.
4. Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813)
Mr Darcy is what I would call a Contextual Daddy, in that he passes in and out of the realm of daddy-ness throughout the novel and film and TV adaptations. Darcy emerging from the lake = daddy. Darcy talking Bingley out of marrying Jane = anti-daddy. Darcy apologising for his mistakes, correcting his errors and working on himself to become a better person without expectation of praise or reward= surprisingly progressive for the time period, but ultimately an unrealistic representation of men both in the regency period and in 2019.
3. Mr John Thornton
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell (1855)
John Thornton is a Capitalist Daddy, albeit one that undergoes some minor character progression and ends up vaguely sympathetic toward the workers at Thornton mills. Ignore the multiple instances of worker oppression and Victorian sexual morality and focus on the sexually repressed prose of Elizabeth Gaskell, where Thornton’s unyielding attraction to Margaret Hale will have you very hot under the collar.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1847)
Heathcliff is most certainly not a daddy, but he is a manifestation of all of the worst elements of the trope of the brooding romantic hero in these novels. Stop trying to read Wuthering Heights as a passionate love story set on the Moors of England and read it as an examination of the impacts of generational abuse and you’ll have a much better understanding of his character. No thanks!
1.Mr Edward Rochester
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1847)
I want to say that Mr Rochester is a daddy, but he also keeps his severely mentally ill ex wife in the attic, a fact that is often glossed over in discussions and representations of his character. The romanticisation of Mr Rochester and his relationship with Jane Eyre is an example of how harmful it can be to consume these novels and their adaptations uncritically. Michael Fassbender is super hot though.