Characters / Persuasion

Anne Elliot

"All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone."
The novel's protagonist. Eight years ago, Lady Russell persuaded her not to accept Lieutenant Wentworth's proposal of marriage. Since then she's been stuck in the house with her self-centered, foolish father and sister, leaving her unlovely and spiritless when Wentworth returns a captain.

  • I Am Not Pretty: She lost the beauty of youth when her relationship with Wentworth broke.
  • I Regret Nothing: She eventually decides that in spite of the pain it caused her and Wentworth, she was right to bow to others' opinions by not marrying him when they were young.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: She was very pretty when she was younger — a teenager and in her early twenties. Her loss of love cost her her bloom and she's considered rather plain, but elegant. Her looks improve considerably when she gets happier.
  • Love Dodecahedron: She's involved in one. Charles Musgrove loved her, but married her sister. She loves Captain Wentworth who used to love her as well but now thinks he might love Louisa or Henrietta. Captain Benwick is obviously infatuated with her and she doesn't find him too shabby either. Her cousin William loves her as well and she's tempted to return the affection.
  • Missing Mom: Lady Elliot died when Anne was a young teen-aged girl. She misses her mother dearly as she was the only one in her family who loved her. It's hinted they shared love for music.
  • New Old Flame: To Captain Wentworth. They used to be engaged and the chemistry is still there, despite the fact that Captain Wentworth chooses to ignore her at first.
  • Old Maid: She's twenty-seven and not married yet. That was a dangerous age, when a woman was close to being considered unfit to marry.
  • The One That Got Away: Till Captain shows up again, Anne suffers from this trope a lot. She has done so for eight years. She's never met Captain Wentworth's equal and refused Charles Musgrove's offer. Justified by the fact that she never got beyond her social circle in the country.
  • Only Sane Man: In the Elliot family; she is far more responsible and clear-headed than her father or sister.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Rather, Parental Substitute Marriage Veto.
  • Proper Lady: She's very caring and a sweet lady.
  • The Quiet One: She's not very lively or spirited. However, she has an elegant mind and when she speaks, it's sensible and nice.
  • The Stoic: She thinks she has to appear strong to her friends and acquaintances, but she often suffers serious emotional turmoil inside.
  • The Unfavorite: To her father, she is only Anne, unimportant second daughter who is not beautiful enough or vain enough, who will never marry, or never marry a suitable man.
  • White Sheep: She, along with her late mother, were the only exemplary members of the Elliot Family.

Sir Walter Elliot

Anne's vain, snobbish father. His determination to live in the style a baronet requires runs up so much debt that he's forced to rent out his estate to restore the family finances.

  • Blue Blood: His favorite book is The Baronetcy, and he'll spend hours pouring over his pedigree.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: He thinks that his rank confers an obligation to live as stylishly as he can.
  • The Dandy: Sir Walter is so vain that his chamber is covered in mirrors (which the Admiral promptly has moved) and he evaluates people by their looks once he's done judging their birth.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Rails about Anne visiting Mrs. Smith, because why should she care about a poor widow with no connections, while Mrs. Clay is sitting right there.
  • Ms. Red Ink: His wife kept the finances in check; after her death, Sir Walter rapidly outstripped his income.
  • Parents as People: He's a twit and neglects Anne abominably, but the reason he didn't remarry was for his daughters' sake.
  • Parental Favoritism: Favors Elizabeth and Mary over Anne.
  • Upper-Class Twit: He has a great many disparaging remarks to make about the Navy, tradesmen, and anyone else below his own rank. But he's so senseless, he can't comprehend that his spending habits are the reason for his embarrassment.

Elizabeth Elliot

The eldest Elliot daughter. She's more or less a female version of her father: vain, self-centered, and obsessed with status.

  • Odd Friendship: In spite of her snobbery, she forms a close friendship with Mrs. Clay, whose connection to the family is being the daughter of their solicitor.
  • Old Maid: She's around thirty and unmarried, and women who weren't at that age were quite unlikely ever to do so.
  • Rich Bitch: It's noted that in spite of her age, she could still attract a husband if it wasn't for her insufferable personality.
  • Upper-Class Twit: She's just as senseless as Sir Walter when it comes to matters of money.

Lady Russell

Anne's closest friend and mentor. Lady Russell persuaded Anne to reject Wentworth out of prudence, a decision that left a lot of heartbreak.

  • Mama Bear: Of the genteel lady variety. She only wants the best for Anne and gets very angry when she feels Anne is being slighted by the other Elliots (which is quite often).
  • Parental Substitute: She steps in as Anne's mother figure after Lady Elliot's death, and she's the only one who ever considers Anne's happiness and needs.
  • Parents as People: While far more sensible than the other Elliots, she still favors blue blood, and her counsel caused quite a bit of heartbreak.

Mary Musgrove

The youngest Elliot sister. While she isn't quite as bad as Elizabeth, she's still self-centered and irritable.

  • Hypocrite: She insinuates that the Harvilles must be bad parents to be able to leave their children in others' care (specifically, Mary's and Charles') for a few months. In the same letter, she asks for an invite to Bath and says that she can easily bear a few months away from her own children.
  • It's All About Me: She whines and complains any time she isn't paid attention to. When Louisa is injured, Mary's reaction to Anne being designated nurse is to be offended and insist that she do it, even though she's in no way suitable.
  • Playing Sick: She has a tendency to suffer frequent nervous illnesses that confine her to her couch. Curiously, it always clears up when someone begins paying attention to her.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Edits her recollection so that her being a Shipper on Deck for Louisa and Wentworth becomes never thinking it was a serious attachment.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Always makes a fuss over being given right of place over her mother-in-law, because after all, she is an Elliot. She also derides her husband's family connections and doesn't realize that the people around her are not impressed by her snubs.

Captain Frederick Wentworth

Anne's former fiance. He comes back into her life when his sister and brother-in-law rent Kellynch Estate. He's still bitter about their broken engagement and immediately begins courting the Musgrove sisters.

  • The Captain: From what we know about his treatment of hapless Dick Musgrove, he's a bit of A Father to His Men. He also speaks with great affection of the ships he's commanded.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Oddly this doesn't complicate a relationship with a new love interest, but with Anne, the first cut herself. He pays a lot of attention to the Musgrove sisters and makes a big deal about how he's only interested in a woman who knows her own mind (i.e. Not Like Anne), but he still loves her beneath the resentment.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: When he sees Mr. Elliot courting Anne in Bath, Wentworth finds himself feeling very unhappy, which makes him realize he still loves her.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: When Louisa falls and hits her head badly, Wentworth is just as panicked as the Musgroves.
  • It's All My Fault: Blames himself for encouraging Louisa's antics and her subsequent fall. He also feels very guilty for acting like he loved her when he was still resentful.
  • Love Letter: His "half agony, half hope" declaration is in a letter that he writes while she's standing five feet away.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: In spite of his ill-feeling towards Anne, he's still far more conscientious of her than her family, pulling her misbehaving nephew off her back and making sure she has a ride home from an overlong walk.
  • The Pollyanna: When he was courting Anne, he had every expectation of speedily winning his fortune at sea in spite of the luck-based nature of survival, never mind prize money. As it turns out, things went about as he predicted, but at the time his confidence seemed naive to Lady Russell.
  • The Resenter: Almost every conversation he has in the first part of the novel that isn't about his career is about how he thinks firmness of decision is such an important trait in a woman.
  • Self-Made Man: He won about 25,000 in prize money during the war against Napoleon. In today's money, that would make him a millionaire.

Admiral and Mrs. Croft

The childless couple that rents out Kellynch. Admiral Croft is friendly and genuine; his wife is the same but with a better head for business. She's also Wentworth's sister, which is how he gets reintroduced to Anne.

  • Happily Married: In stark contrast to the other married couples of the book, they get on very well all the time.
  • Nice Guy: Admiral Croft is happy to befriend anyone who's worthy of it and very cordial to anyone he meets, with genuine concern for all his friends.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Captain Wentworth and whichever of the Musgrove sisters he would decide to marry.
  • Women Are Wiser: Mrs. Croft is noted as having more business sense than her husband.

Louisa Musgrove

Mary's sister-in-law. Louisa is confident and lively and becomes quite attached to Wentworth, who declares himself wanting to marry a confident and lively woman.

  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: After her near death from a fall, she's reported to have become very skittish.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Competes with her less-confident sister Henrietta for Wentworth's attention, though Louisa soon takes the lead.
  • Second Love: Not for Wentworth, but Benwick.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Unlike other Austen ladies of this mold, though, Louisa sometimes has more spirit than sense.

Captain Benwick

A close friend of Wentworth and the Crofts. Benwick lost his fiancee a year ago and is very romantic, in the literary sense. He befriends Anne when the Crofts' society throws them together.

  • Birds of a Feather: Set up to be this with Anne, both being rather melancholy people with lost loves and a fondness for poetry.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: He and Louisa fell in love while he helps her recover and reads poetry.
  • Last Minute Hookup: He winds up marrying Louisa Musgrove, as her personality became rather closer to his own in consequence of her accident.
  • The Mourning After: He's still deeply in mourning for his intended, Phoebe Harville, and is ready to stay that way for the rest of his life. Until he meets Anne and Louisa.
  • Heartbroken Badass: According to Wentworth, Benwick's gloomy and poetic surface hides the fact that he's a fierce foe in battle.

William Elliot

A cousin of the family and Sir Walter's heir. He spurned Elizabeth's advances years ago to marry a rich but lowborn woman. Now a widower, he returns full of apology to repair the relationship and begins courting Anne.

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Everything about his manner is as nice and personable as anyone could want. Anne is the only one to think that he's a little too amiable.
  • Gold Digger: He married his late wife entirely for money, and they were rather unhappy together. His interest in Anne has the same motive—he wants to secure his claim to Kellynch through her.
  • Kissing Cousins: He flirts with Anne by saying he hopes her name never changes. Normal for the time.
  • Manipulative Bastard: His calculated pleasingness of manners. He played his old friend Mr. Smith entirely, as close as a brother, with no intentions of ever returning the favor, and flatters and flirts with Anne without real depth of feeling.
  • Relationship Sabotage: He cozies up to the Elliots in Bath so that he can separate Sir Walter from Mrs. Clay—in which he succeeds, but Austen hints that Mrs. Clay may succeed in flattering him into marriage instead.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: When he was poor, his friends the Smiths supported him and kept him in good society. When they fell into poverty (because he encouraged them to keep spending past their means) and Mr. Smith died, he couldn't give Mrs. Smith the time of day.