In the latest addition to my Jane Austen Theorem*, Mark T. Mitchell explains how Jane Austen teaches us to be a gentlemen:
Austen’s gentlemen (I’m thinking especially of Darcy here) understand the call of duty; they are committed to family, reputation, propriety, and self-control. To be sure, Darcy takes himself quite seriously, but aren’t these pursuits serious by nature? To neglect one’s duty, to be careless of one’s family and reputation, to ignore the bounds of propriety and to indulge the appetites without restraint are not the actions of a gentleman. They represent, conversely, the behavior of a boor. Or, perhaps equally fitting, they are the actions of a male who has no sense of what it means to be a man. Such characters may be Guys or Peter Pans but they are not men and surely not gentlemen.
*Carter’s Jane Austen Theorem states that all complex behavior of advanced mammals can be explained by reference to the novels of Jane Austen. See also: Jane Austen and Game Theory and Jane Austen and Baboon Metaphysics