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True Definition of a True Gentleman

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.

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User Comments
  1. Kristoph Gavin

    On December 12, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I am rather glad myself that I wrote this wonderful piece of work.
    Now…to find my ariadoney nail polish…

  2. Dayna

    On December 20, 2008 at 4:39 am

    So you have described what you believe a gentleman to be. How would say a gentleman treats a woman, his mother, daughter, lover and/or wife? How would a gay man treat his partner? Because in my experience social gentlemen are weak when it comes to people that are close to him. Please let me know

  3. Matt

    On April 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    This is Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

  4. Dakota

    On September 25, 2010 at 4:12 am

    This is a beautiful post…

    Dayna to answer your question in respect i say to you…

    A true gentleman act accordingly because it better serves him. because through right action, through propriety, generosity, and honesty he can create strong bonds of security among his fellowman.
    a weak gentleman will say he acts accordingly because “it the right thing to do.” or other such hollow comment.

    when a true gentleman he will act the same. because the reason for his action will not have changed.

    when a weak gentleman finds himself in the presence of a wife, a daughter, a mother, a homosexual man, or even an atheist, a trans-gender, a pastor, a pagan, a child, an animal, a tree, or any other living or non-living thing. he will do what he was taught was “the right thing to do”. he my love the mother but berate the homosexual man. he might be gentle with the child but abuse his wife. he might care for the dog but mindlessly burn down the tree. he might follow the pastor but condemn the pagan.

    a weak gentleman is not an example to his talk of righteousness.

    however a true gentleman’s reputation will precede him.

    it is good to note that all these trait can be handed directly across as trait of a gentlewoman. which is by definition very different from a lady.


  5. Ben Sorensen

    On October 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Good stuff.

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