The concept of ‘gentleman’ has been changing with the passage of time. In its original sense, the word gentleman was used in England for the aristocrats and well-to-do people without any moral consideration The word gentry collectively stood for educated and cultured people. There was a clear cut distinction between the gentry and the commoners or laymen.
Nowadays the word gentleman is used in wider sense. It is a word of polite address for man. It is more or less a term of courtesy and social etiquette. ‘Ladies and gentleman’ has become a kind of salutation while addressing a gathering or extending invitation. In a mixed gathering, there are all ladies and gentlemen without consideration of rank and status. The communists use the word comrade instead of gentleman.
Newman in his famous essay on ‘Gentlemen’, has beautifully brought out the idea of a gentlemen.. ‘A gentle man is a person who knows what to say what not to say, when to speak and when not to speak. He does not push any advantage too far. He is always pleasing and obliging.’ It is a charming pen picture of a gentleman. The idea of a gentleman may change from people to people and from country to country. In my opinion, a gentleman should possess both the qualities of the mind, and the qualities of heart. He has a forceful and magnetic personality that attracts others. The secondary mental qualities are intelligence, courage, (moral), gallantry, chivalry, frankness, and generosity. Gentlemen, never tie to deceive others. He is respectful towards the seniors and loving towards his juniors. He has great regard for the fair sex.
Again, a true gentleman is true to his words. He is honest and trustworthy He is always on the lookout for a good turn, and helps those who are in difficulty. He is neither a snob nor a hypocrite. Open dealings are duties for him. He is a model of good manners. He always upholds good and hates evil.
A real gentleman should be kind-hearted, generous and obliging. Gentlemanship is a rare virtue. Authority or wealth does not make a man great. A man may be born in good family. He may be highly educated. But if he has no strength of character, he can not be labelled as gentlemen. Character is the touchstone for judging the worth of a gentleman. Shakespearean gentleman speaks:
“We are gentleman, that neither in our hearts, nor outward eye, Envy the great; nor do the low despise”.
Well, “Agnels are bright still, though the brightest fell.”