An essay written on what it means to be a gentleman. Awarded Sigma Alpha Epsilon Scholarship.
“A gentleman has ease without familiarity, is respectful without meanness; genteel without affectation, insinuating without seeming art.” (Chesterfield) To this quotation, it would seem, that a gentleman is himself in all aspects, but still easy going, clever, proper, and honest, yet respectful in turn. Chesterfield, by any account, would be considered a gentleman, and I could not contest that which he says is a gentleman if he is a gentleman himself, thereby giving me my definition of what a gentleman is. Yet, even as this definition is true, it is incomplete.
A true gentleman is virtuous in all aspects of the word, a king among kings with no power, save that which influences the heart, mind, and soul. A gentleman should be honest, without reservation, but at the same time without cruelty or malice in that which he says in truth. A gentleman has a love of propriety, but does not flaunt his decorum, humbling himself before his own accomplishments and his own failures, telling honestly of what he cannot accomplish himself. He is modest and unswerving in his heart’s path to that which is right, yet has an aura of confidence in all he is and does. A gentleman gives where giving is needed, taking only reluctantly. His sympathy should be etched clearly upon his heart, but he expects of others his or her full potential. A gentleman is as multifaceted as any faceted jewel, yet as clearly seen as any crystalline gem. That is my definition of a gentleman.
I will state the traits, which I try to exemplify, which I consistently attempt to portray as a man, but I am undeniably guilty of failures of every aspect of the gentlemanly figure. In all that I do, I uphold the qualities I have stated with unbridled passion, yet who is to say that any has ever held them constant? The standard to which I hold myself is the same standard to which I hold everyone, for who would I be to elevate myself to a pillar of greater expectation than all people?
As I said, true gentlemen have influence, for a true gentleman never finds himself without authority. It is with this influence that a gentleman can help others to become gentlemanly themselves. That is the greatest expectation I have for anyone, to act gentlemanly, to be as kind, compassionate, honest, giving, humble, and modest as they may. It is with these traits that I demonstrate; reveal through my influence, and hopefully are mirrored by that influence.