Richard: Generous Gent or Henpecked Hubby
While watching an episode of “Keeping Up Appearances” it came to mind: Is Richard Bucket henpecked or simply gallant.
According to Dictionary.com the definition of henpecked is: browbeaten, bullied or intimated by one’s wife, girlfriend, etc. On the other hand to be gallant is to be exceptionally polite and attentive to women; courtly. I choose to think that Richard is more gallant than henpecked. He displays traits of extreme tolerance but at times it’s quite obvious that he would love to wring Hyacinth’s neck.
For those of you who are not familiar with Richard Bucket, he is the extremely patient husband of the irrepressible Hyacinth Bucket from the BBC sitcom “Keeping Up Appearances." Hyacinth is a social climber of the highest degree who exempts her opinions on everyone unfortunately enough to be in her vicinity from the mailman to the vicar.
Most everyone avoids her because of her inflated sense of self-importance. She even changed the pronunciation of her married name from Bucket to Bouquet. Her most infuriating characteristic is her ability to completely disregard the objections or opinions of others. In fact—she just doesn’t listen.
Richard completely comprehends his wife. He pampers her as a parent would indulge a spoiled child. And … in a sense she is childlike because she lives in a fantasy world where she is a “lady of quality and position” and poor relations are less than desirable and should be neither seen or heard.
Richard is in reality of the sitcom neither intimidated or browbeaten as the definition of henpeck implies. He chooses to accommodate his wife’s whims as the perfect English gentleman he is. However, there are moments when even Richard temporarily loses his composure and displays an attitude of disgust or disbelief.
In one episode Hyacinth has the need to use a public telephone. Just as she is about to enter the booth a man goes ahead of her. An irate Hyacinth begins banging on the booth making the man aware that it is an aristocratic privilege for her to use the public telephone. Richard forcefully tells Hyacinth to come away from the booth and get into the car where she immediately obeys feeling very embarrassed and hurt.
Another episode Richard will need to drive one of the church’s vans to the seashore. Hyacinth tells Richard to drive their smaller car as if it were the church’s van and to give other drivers a “wide berth.” Richard sarcastically drives his car on the sideway (called pavement) and ask his wife—is this wide enough?
Richard’s body language says much more than words. He rolls his eyes and when Hyacinth is not looking gives her a disapproving gaze. He never agrees with negative comments made regarding his wife and is not ashamed to acknowledge that she is indeed his wife.
Richard has great rapport with his brother-in-law Onslow. Even his very name gives you a brief preview of his character. Called “bone idle” Onslow sits in front of the television enjoying either the races or some chase scene. The very philosophical Onslow tells Richard that since he is retired he should enjoy life more. Richard, whose first duty is to his wife, explains to Onslow his need to be accommodating to her. Regardless of the negative comments made about Hyacinth he expresses his loyalty to her. This is truly not the hallmark of a henpecked husband but of a gallant one instead!
It must be noted that at first glance Richard does appear to be the epitome of the henpecked husband. He allows Hyacinth to lead him by the collar, tug him, probe him and pull him. He seldom gets to finish: reading the paper, eating his breakfast or complete a conversation. And please—don’t ask for his opinion in the presence of Mrs. Bouquet.
Hyacinth can talk Richard into wearing a ridiculous cast on his foot, climb up dangerous ladders and buy expensive cufflinks for his brother-in-law’s birthday. Onslow doesn’t even wear shirts! But don’t be deceived by his mild-mannered attitude. Richard Bucket truly has to be the most gallant man on the face of the planet when it comes to his misguided wife.
To truly understand this concept watch several—not just one episode of “Keeping Up Appearances.” It is truly an enjoyable experience.
Have you ever had the desire to "eliminate" Hyacinth Bucket?
© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS