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What is a Gentleman?

Updated on March 19, 2018
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A modern day renaissance man who enjoys etiquette, gourmet cooking, brilliant music, and fine arts.

How many people would picture a gentleman.
How many people would picture a gentleman. | Source

A brief look at history

In the modern era, a gentleman would be characterized as any man who behaves in a courteous and kind manner. It is also the polite term for any man, or it is used when addressing others. The female version of a gentleman is commonly referred to as lady. This is the general gist of it, but it does get more involved if put under a microscope.

Go back in time and things were a bit different. To begin with, a gentleman was considered the lowest rank among the English. It would also be a term used for the younger sons of knights and barons. It would be a given birthright for those of noble blood.

This began to change in the 1700s when, for example, Richard Steele says the following in Tatler; “the appellation of gentleman is never to be affixed to a man’s circumstances, but to his behavior in them.”

Being a gentleman became a broader term, including men who worked hard for their prosperity, and had solid morals and ethics. The term then became a way to describe a man of character in a polite manner.

Gentlemen of old, greeting one another.
Gentlemen of old, greeting one another. | Source

Back to today

Going back to modern times, being a gentleman is a bit more complex. Being a gentleman is now based on a man’s honor, morals, values, and conduct. A gentleman devotes his life to meeting a superior standard of behavior and interaction. Being kind, patient, polite and mild-mannered are all cornerstones of what it is to be a gentleman.

Some people argue that being a gentleman revolves around being courteous or chivalrous even towards women. Yes, treating women with respect is important, but a gentleman recognizes that all are equal, and all deserve respect.

Confidence goes hand-in-hand with being a gentleman. This is a man who handles himself calmly in dire situations. Someone who can make people feel calm and secure in his presence, even if it means going against ones own fears. A gentleman takes control of the situation and brings it to a peaceful resolution. Gentlemen never raise their voices in arguments, but rather try to win over the competing party with logic and understanding.

Responsibility is another keyword in what it means to be a gentleman. He never shies away from chores or tasks needing their attention. They handle their business and keep their word solid.

Knowledge is one of the many passions of a gentleman. The pursuit of knowledge and culture is part of the gentleman’s purpose, if you will. He recognizes that it is important to keep up with current events, and knows that knowledge in a variety of topics make for better conversation. Though this is important, a gentleman never brags about his intellect or knowledge to people.

Gentlemen are a rare sight nowadays, men seem to not set their standards to that of a gentleman anymore. If there were more men who would partake in the lifestyle spoken about above, I do believe that the world would be turned slightly towards the better.

Hopefully in writing this, along with my other articles, I have inspired some of you to endeavor to better yourself. Keep in mind that you will not change for the better over night, it takes dedication and passion to become a true gentleman. But please, do consider joining the ranks.

Until next time, gentlemen.

An example of a modern day gentleman.
An example of a modern day gentleman. | Source

Quick question

Should the modern gentleman matter? Or is gallantry a thing of the past?

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