What is a gentleman, and what does it mean to be one? Does it carry the original connotation of nobility in English society, or has evolved into a more inclusive classification? Is there still a gentleman hidden in the modern world of the 21st-century, and if so, is he still relevant?
To my dismay I learnt that there are as many definitions of the word gentleman and what it means to be one. Being a gentleman means many things to different people. Some men consider themselves gentleman through and through. Others are not quite sure how to define what it means to be considered as one. As a result, I am not certain that a gentleman still exists in the modern world and yet more, is he even relevant to a most casual society. Whatever it means, it is fair to say that most would agree that a being a gentleman is a man with honor and respect for others.
Modern Day Gentleman: An Evolution
The gentleman is always truthful and sincere; will not agree for the sake of compliance or out of weakness; will not pass over that which he disapproves. He has a clear soul, and a fearless, straightforward tongue. On the other hand, he is not blunt or rude. His truth is courteous; his courteous see, truthful; never a humbug, yet, where he truthfully can, prefers to say pleasant things.
History of the meanings of the word gentleman: The English words gentleman and gentlewoman are simply translations of the French Gentile homme and Gentile femme, and thus originally meant only a man or a woman born of a family of a certain social rank. It could be safely assumed that the Normans were accompanied William the conqueror brought these terms with them, and that they were likely among the earliest words translated into English. By reason of collateral associations, which always adherence to words these terms came by degrees to connote all such qualities or adventitious circumstances as were usually found to belong to persons of Jintao origin. Bus, mid-evil writers frequently urge that without such virtues as ”trouth, pete`, fredome, and hardynesse, nobody ought to be called a gentleman.”
Besides the quality of birth additional meetings of the two terms must have varied in different ages according to the changing qualities, morals, and manners of persons of Gentile extraction. In the age of chivalry a true gentleman was distinguished, besides his birth, by valor, honor, gentleness, and respect towards the fair sex, truth, humility, and piety; and knowledge of manly exercises courteous manners, music, and singing, appointments with the order of residency and Reich, and ability to car, were his accomplishments rather than scholastic learning, or even faculty to read or write. “the truest gentleman is he who combines the most cultivated mind with the most sympathetic and unselfish heart.” medieval literature use of the word gentleman either as referring to a man of gentle birth, or is accompanied by an analysis of a true gentleman’s qualities. It seems the secondary meaning of the word was effectively detached and removed from the original one at a comparatively late period. These changes are not merely verbal in nature, but are closely connected with the social history of the time.
During the Middle Ages the divisions of rank were strongly marked and firmly maintain a wide and practically unsurpassable goal divided commoners from the nobility and gentry. Nobody who was not born gentle would have ever thought of line claim to the denomination of gentlemen, evidently for the simple reason that it only signified a man of gentle birth men of that time, unlike today, did not form the connecting link between the two classes, there were now learned professions in which they met with the man of lower birth. Even in the clergy, which did comprise men of both classes, the higher and lower ranks were kept separate.
There were a few exceptions were commoners rose to dignity and right, but these did not break the rules and thus making the distinction all the more conspicuous. It appears that by the time of the Reformation this class exclusiveness began to feed and disappear. The middle ages shifted learning to a different position and left studying to a secluded class of people. Study in all its forms was considered inferior; for in those warlike days a literary education was of use for the business life although consequently enjoyed yet with little esteem. From the 16th century, Scholastic knowledge became of great and ever-increasing value. The esteem in which scholars and all professional men were held, increased too. As a direct result it became an embarrassment to be ignorant and unlearned. Writers of the day declared that “learning is an essential part of nobility.”