Amy Hughes is a freelance writer.

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7 of the Most (and Least) Eligible Bachelors from Literature

Many of us have wondered at some point in our lives whether all the best men are fictional. I’m pretty sure the hand-flexing scene in Pride and Prejudice (2005) exists solely to make this point for me. But, a lot of the time, life doesn’t feel like a sexually-charged Regency romance or a sunny rom com—in fact, this Valentine’s Day, it might feel a bit more like a dystopian novel. One--quite unfairly--without any thrilling love triangles.

As the great romantic heroes are already taken, here’s a countdown of seven of literature’s most  (and least) eligible bachelors.


7. Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein

We’re starting with the dregs here, people, and for that I’m sorry. Victor Frankenstein is the kind of guy who seems really cool on paper. He’s an international student, he’s driven, he even invents things! How fun! 

The bad news is, he also refuses to acknowledge any of his mistakes or deal proactively with his problems. It starts with his electricity being turned off because he ignores all his bills, and ends with you being brutally murdered on your wedding night by the man he created then abandoned. Yes, he’s available but you can definitely do better.

6. Macbeth, Macbeth

Macbeth is the kind of guy you meet at a party and seems like a dream come true. He’s best mates with the host and everyone keeps telling you how great he is - and yes, he has some winning traits. He’s not afraid of strong women (even when he should be), and he’s very receptive to women’s opinions.

Unfortunately, he’ll definitely bring out the worst in you. This relationship will get toxic fast: you’ll find yourself making excuses to your friends about his behaviour and before long you’re an accomplice to murder. It’s a slippery slope! Tread carefully if you don’t want to die a mysterious offstage death.

5. John Yossarian, Catch-22

American literature loves a fuckboy. Yossarian’s a fun guy—if he were one of your friends, you’d probably have a good time hanging out with him! But as soon as you cross that border into a relationship he’d be a nightmare, constantly trying to get out of dates or flaking on you forever. He’s deathly afraid of labelling the relationship and is convinced you’re trying to trap him into marriage on a technicality. Ultimately, he’s just looking for a loophole to leave - sorry, hun. Fun for a summer in Italy, but maybe don’t go into it with hopes for the long term.

4. Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye

Now, to be fair to Holden, he’s only sixteen in the book, so let’s be charitable and assume he broadens his vocabulary from the word “phony” as he gets older. He’s six two (because apparently that matters) and yes, he’s a bit of a whiner, but he’s got a cute relationship with his sister and a definite green flag! If you’re running away from your responsibilities, you could do worse than a man who’s a little surly and grey before his time.

3. Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby

Old Jay is a man of extreme pros and extreme cons. The cons? He’s very clingy and a bit of a yes-man. You’d go on one date and the next week he’d be moon-eyed, regaling you with details of what your house looks at night and from afar (how did he get your address?) and asking your friends what you’ve said to them about him. 

The pros? He’s a snappy dresser and throws legendary parties. Apparently one girl even cried because his shirts were so beautiful. A bit extreme if you ask me but if you’re willing to roll with it he could be the love of your roaring twenties.


2. Death, The Book Thief

Hear me out: yes, he’s a bit of a loner but he’s got great stories and no commitment issues (“Til death do us part?” Nice try!). Plus, he even has a bit of a goth vibe going on if that’s what you’re into. The only drawback is that he’s a workaholic and you’re unlikely to spend much quality time with him in between, you know, all the grim reaping he has to do. 


1. The Old Man, The Old Man and the Sea

Who doesn’t love a silver fox? This old timer refuses to call it a day on his dreams and I think that’s just neat. He’s tanned, tenacious, and has had a run of bad luck recently, so the blossoming of your new love will seem like a dream come true to him. He doesn’t say much, but I just know that if you give him a chance he’ll reel in your heart, and then strap it to the side of his boat to be picked clean by sharks. A love story for the ages.