"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 wants 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.
- Nerves of Steel: When Louisa falls off the Cobb and is knocked unconscious, Wentworth, Benwick, Charles, Henrietta and Mary all freak out, but Anne immediately takes charge, brings out the smelling salts, calls for a surgeon and tells Benwick to go and fetch one, because he'll know where they are. Wentworth is seriously impressed with Anne's coolness in a crisis and when she overhears him saying how "capable" she is, it's one of the first glimmers of hope that she gets.
- 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 ElliotAnne'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.
- 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 ElliotThe 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 would be considered a "low connection" because she's the daughter of their solicitor and there's no indication her late husband was of a higher station.
- 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, and she's so pleased with Mrs. Clay's flattery that she doesn't realize their "friendship" is mainly a way for Mrs. Clay to get close to Sir Walter.
Mrs. ClayMrs. Clay is the daughter of Sir Walter's solicitor and often accompanies him on his business visits to Kellynch. She's widowed and befriends Elizabeth, but it's clear to others what her true objective is.
- Gold Digger: She's hoping to flatter Sir Walter into marrying her. However, the narrative doesn't cast her as a villain as she might be in Austen's other books—it's not admirable, but it's also a logical move for a widow with no connections.
- I'm Standing Right Here: When Sir Walter goes off about Anne visiting some old widow of no connection called Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Clay has to leave the room because his rant applies just as much to her.
- Spanner in the Works: Mr. Elliot wants her gone because if she marries Sir Walter, they might produce a child who would displace him as the heir.
Lady RussellAnne'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 Marriage Veto: Though Sir Walter and Elizabeth also disapproved, Lady Russell's opinion was the one that got Anne to break the engagement. Her logic was that for all his optimism, Lieutenant Wentworth was just a poor lieutenant whose survival through the war was not at all guaranteed, never mind his belief that he'd soon get rich through prize money, and she didn't want Anne to suffer either lifelong bereavement or poverty.
- 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 MusgroveThe 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, because it's her right as a closer relative.
- 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 WentworthAnne'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 in spite of his resentment he can't love anyone else.
- 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 flirting with her and is pulled up short when someone comments on the expectation of their engagement, realizing that he's behaved towards her in such a way that marriage would be the only honorable outcome if she wanted it.
- 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.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: In the first part of the book he never addresses Anne directly, but his pleasant conversations to the Musgroves are full of barbs that are meant for her. For example, his remark that he was so eager to go to sea because he had no wife to keep him ashore... Anne.
- 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.
- True Companions: With his brother captains Harville and Benwick. Wentworth says that he would make a journey of any length if any weather to any request of Harville's and feels a deep sympathy for Benwick's heartbreak.
Admiral and Mrs. Sophie CroftThe 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.
- Drives Like Crazy: Wentworth jokes that his brother-in-law frequently oversets whenever he tries to manage something designed for land and hopes Sophie won't have to climb out of a ditch again.
- Fish out of Water: The Crofts visit Bath for the Admiral's health. Apparently life in the country doesn't agree with him so well after decades living at sea.
- Friend to All Children: The Admiral takes to the Musgroves' undisciplined boys, especially in the 1995 film.
- Happily Married: In stark contrast to the other married couples of the book, their love is deep, genuine rather than a marriage of convenience, and they get along with each other very well.
- Innocently Insensitive: The Crofts like Anne and are quick to befriend and include her, but Mrs. Croft has no idea of the pain she and her husband are causing when they ask Anne which one of the Musgroves Fredrick will choose for a wife—she only knows that Anne once met her brother the curate.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: It's implied that they would have liked children, but were unable to have any. Sir Walter's solicitor thinks this is a point in their favor, however, saying that there's no better preserver of furniture than a childless married woman.
- Nice Guy: Admiral Croft is happy to befriend anyone who's worthy of it. Unlike some Austen characters, who treat their friends interchangeably, the Admiral shows genuine care and interest for everyone in his social circle. He becomes very fond of Anne and she's delighted when they turn up in Bath.
- Shipper on Deck: For Captain Wentworth and whichever of the Musgrove sisters he would decide to marry. He gripes about having his prospects continually picked over by married friends.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Mrs. Croft has spent most of her married life at her husband's side, even while he's at sea fighting the French Navy, and she's never even been seasick. She's an excellent, well-mannered lady, but she slaps her brother down when he starts in on women not being suited for the hardships of life at sea. (A pretty silly remark in all consequence since he knows perfectly well she's lived on one.)
- Women Are Wiser: Mrs. Croft is noted as having more business sense than her husband.
Louisa MusgroveMary'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.
- Falling Into His Arm: Invoking this becomes one of her favorite things to do: jumping off of steps so that Wentworth will catch her. When she tries it from the Cobb at Lyme, she runs up to a very high spot, ignoring his protests. He's unable to catch her and she sustains a severe head injury that leaves her unconscious for at least a day.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: After her near death from a fall, she's reported to have become very skittish and severe.
- 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.
- Big Brother Instinct: Over his deceased sister Fanny. He seems to genuinely resent that Benwick decided to marry someone else so soon, and insists that she would not have forgotten him so soon if their positions had been reversed.
- Game-Breaking Injury: His leg injury still pains him and keeps him from active service.
- Happily Married: He loves his wife deeply and adores his family. He speaks very passionately about what it feels like to have to part from your family for a year or more and the agony of waiting for them to arrive when you finally return to port.
- Nice Guy: He easily accepts Anne as part of his social circle and values her friendship, and he's so eager to be hospitable to Wenworth's friends that he and Mrs. Harville are actually upset to learn that they decided to stay at an inn rather than assume they were welcome to bring their party of six people to stay at their house (already full of their children and Benwick).
- Number Two: He was Wentworth's first lieutenant on the Laconia before peace was declared. (It's possible, given what's said of that ship's adventures, that Harville was promoted to commend Wentworth—a common practice, since the captains themselves couldn't be promoted to admiral except by moving up the chain of seniority.)
- Officer and a Gentleman: To a somewhat lesser degree than Wentworth. His manners aren't quite as refined, but he's an honest and warmhearted person and that's rather more valuable.
Captain BenwickA 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. This is treated with deep skepticism by Harville, who thinks his beloved sister's memory has been slighted, and Wentworth, who spent years in agony over a woman who was still alive.
- The Mourning After: He's still deeply in mourning for his intended, Fanny 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. (If the story followed the point of view of the war, his poetic soul would probably be Hidden Depths.)
- Romantic False Lead: In Lyme, he and Anne spend most of their time together since they're the odd ones out from their respective groups and others suspect that they might be forming an intimacy.
- Second Love: He finds one in Louisa, but somewhat unusually his social circle is rather critical about it amongst themselves. Harville is especially displeased that his beloved sister has been so soon forgotten.
William ElliotA 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.
- All Take and No Give: It's noted that his first wife did love him, but once they were married he made it clear that his only interest in her had been her money. He treats his friends the Smiths with an equal lack of care—once they can't give him anything more, he's done with them.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Everything about his manner is as nice and personable as anyone could want. Anne is the only one to ask why he's so suddenly willing to be on good terms with the family again after such a long period of disagreement.
- Everyone Has Standards: Even though Elizabeth would marry him in a heartbeat, Mr. Elliot ignores her as he did before and spends a great deal of time and effort trying to make Anne fall in love with him. Not that he has any real depth of feeling towards her, but evidently his desire to cement his claim to Kellynch falls just short of having to spend the rest of his life with Elizabeth.
- 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.
- Nobility Marries Money: Rather than marry Elizabeth, Mr. Elliot chose to marry the daughter of a wealthy butcher who passed away after an Awful Wedded Life. He only takes an interest in his cousins again because he wants the land and title.
- 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.
- Widow's Weeds: The male version. He has black crepe around his hat, and everyone who discusses his prospects with Anne notes that their marriage would have take place after "a decent interval."