Three kinds (again): men with the trappings of gentlemanliness, men with the appearance of gentlemanliness, and true gentlemen.
In the first category are wealthy or titled men whose wealth or title conceal their indolence, stupidity, or pride. Mr. Bennet’s being a landowner (and an educated, witty, intelligent man) doesn’t prevent him from totally abdicating his responsibilities to protect and care for his family as he retreats to the peace of his library, leaving his wife and daughters to shift for themselves. Mr. Collins’s position as a churchman doesn’t give him common sense — or morality, really; he’s a pathetic, toadying excuse for a man, not just a risible weakling, but an ignorant sycophant. Darcy himself begins the story in this category, thinking that his wealth and privileged upbringing set him apart from others. His pride leads to the arrogance, condescension, and snobbery Lizzy finds so repugnant in his first proposal. (Mr. Hurst bears a mention here as a combination of all the vices of the other poor examples, though he serves less as a real character than as a sharpening-stone for Austen’s most biting witticisms.)
In the second, Wickham is, of course, the prime example. His manners endear him to the whole village, but his character, as the novel goes on, is steadily revealed as more corrupt than anyone could have imagined — he is a seducer, a swindler, a gambler, a liar, a cheat. One of the themes of the novel is that things are often not as they seem, but Wickham’s is a particularly shocking deception.
In the third category, Austen curiously places men from almost every social class: Mr. Gardiner, a hardworking and gentleman-like commoner, displays his nobility of spirit as he searches tirelessly for the prodigal Lydia, though she is not his daughter. Cols. Forster and Fitzwilliam, gentlemanly officers who demonstrate goodness in manners and morals, are similarly held up as examples of chivalry and kindness. Mr. Bingley (whose sisters vainly struggle to hide their nouveau riche status by urging their brother to buy an estate) is the consummate good-natured gent — outdoorsy, unselfish, humble to a fault, easygoing, unfailingly polite. And, of course, at last, Mr. Darcy, one of the wealthiest men in England, who becomes a paragon of self-sacrifice, humility, and graciousness.
Again: NOT. A. ROMANCE. NOVEL. Got it?