"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.
- Elegant Classical Musician: Anne Elliot is an elegant, slender woman with cultured mind. She plays the piano exceptionally well and has great taste in music. However, she could share it with only two people her late mother and her former fiancé Captain Wentworth.
- English Rose: She used to be a very pretty girl who has lost her bloom and still has modest beauty with regular features and mild brown eyes. She regains her appeal later. She's a sweet lady with an elegant and cultured mind who is admired and respected by people from her neighbourhood.
- Hidden Depths: Anne is highly regarded by all sensible people who know her, and she is very accomplished. Her taste and knowledge of literature and music is well known to all, but people in her company at a concert in Bath are extremely impressed by the fact that she has a command of Italian and is able to translate a song into elegant English for them. She is also very modest about it.
- I Am Not Pretty: She lost the beauty of youth when her relationship with Wentworth broke. She really is less beautiful than she used to be, but she almost fails to notice that when her spirits improve, her looks improve with them. And she always thinks people should not flatter her.
- 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.
- 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 to marry Anne as well and for a brief moment she's tempted to return the affection. Her sister Elizabeth wants to marry their cousin William as well, but he ends up with Penelope Clay.
- 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.
- Obliviously Beautiful: By the end of the novel, Anne is Obliviously Beautiful, perhaps with a bit of Indifferent Beauty added to the mix. She does not realize that her once faded looks got much better and that people now genuinely admire her delicate beauty. Moreover, her happiness makes her shine from the inside.Glowing and lovely in sensibility and happiness, and more generally admired than she thought about or cared for, she had cheerful or forbearing feelings for every creature around her.
- 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, especially Elizabeth. (However, there is a hint that he has met with one or two private disappointments in very unreasonable proposals.)
- Parental Favoritism: Favors Elizabeth and Mary over Anne. Elizabeth is his true favourite, and Mary is only slightly important because she married rather well to a sufficiently rich heir to a local land-owner.
- Proud Beauty: Rare male example. He is extremely proud of his good looks that (he thinks) do not fade."Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character; vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion."
- 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.
- Dude Magnet: Some ladies in Bath gossiping about the Elliots mention that the men are all wild after the handsome Miss Elliot. She is gorgeous and popular, but her haughtiness and unpleasant personality keep her from attracting a serious match. She is also apparently quite picky — she wants to marry at least a baronet.
- 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. She enjoys being flattered and looked up to too much, and fails to notice that widowed Mrs Clay is after her father...
- Old Maid: She's around thirty and unmarried, and women who weren't at that age were quite unlikely ever to do so. It's noted that in spite of her age, she is very beautiful and could still attract a husband if it wasn't for her insufferable personality and pickiness.
- Proud Beauty: She is very proud of her good looks and extremely vain.
- Rich Bitch: She is very beautiful and popular in the society, comes from a very rich and noble family, and she has been a mistress of her father's house since she was 16. She is used to gorgeous houses, trips to London, servants, opulent meals, exquisite clothes, new furnishing, parties and so on. She is however very haughty and unkind, and her lack of common sense and inability to properly manage the household (that her mother could do so well) lead the family into debts.
- 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.
- Book Worm: Lady Russel loves reading and is crazy about getting new publications.
- Horrible Judge of Character: She thinks William Elliot would be a good match for Anne.
- 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', though they are actually with her mother-in-law) 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.
- 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 BSoD: 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 will be slightly in excess of eight hundred thousand pounds (a veritable fortune in those days, where the prices of goods are but a feel pennies here and there).
- 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.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: Wentworth gets to return to the scene of his heartbreak rich, respected, and desired, and can lord his new status over Anne, whose reward for breaking the engagement was to become faded and careworn. For a little while, Wentworth enjoys his passive-aggressive remarks and his open flirtation with the younger, prettier Musgrove sisters in front of her, but it starts to sour even before the visit to Bath when he sees just how much her spirit has suffered in the past eight years. As it turns out, it's not terribly satisfying kicking someone who's already down.
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.
- 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, resolute, lively woman with a strong mind and sweetness of manner.
- Elegant Classical Musician: Louisa Musgrove plays the piano, the harp and sings. She is pretty and amiable enough, and as an unmarried young lady, she obviously likes showing off her musical accomplishments. It's hinted that her parents tend to gush about it a lot.
- Falling into His Arms: 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, she nearly dies and though she recovers, she's not as healthy and well as she used to be.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Competes with her less-confident sister Henrietta for Wentworth's attention, though Louisa soon takes the lead.
- Harp of Femininity: Plays the harp. In one scene, the Musgrove sisters' harp is especially delivered to a dinner party at her brother's so she could play the harp.
- Heroic BSoD: After her near death from a fall, she's reported to have become very skittish and severe.
- Second Love: She's a potential second love interest for Captain Wentworth who previously loved Anne (and as it turns out, never stopped loving her), but Louisa ends up marrying Captain Benwick. She's his second love as well. He was engaged to Fanny Harville who died while he was at sea.
- Spirited Young Lady: Unlike other Austen ladies of this mold, though, Louisa sometimes has more spirit than sense. She's forthright and firm, and open in her liking for Wentworth, but insists on making a dangerous jump from stone steps against the urging of everyone present and sustains a serious head injury. After she recovers, her brother says that she's not as lively as she used to be.Charles: [S]he is altered; there is no running or jumping about, no laughing or dancing; it is quite different. If one happens only to shut the door a little hard, she starts and wriggles like a young dab-chick in the water; and Benwick sits at her elbow, reading verses, or whispering to her, all day long.
Henrietta MusgroveLouisa' elder sister.
- Elegant Classical Musician: Like her sister Louisa, pretty Henrietta plays the piano and the harp.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: She is said to be a bit prettier than Lousia, but Louisa is more confident and outspoken. They compete for Wentworth's attention, though Louisa soon takes the lead.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: The Hayters are less polished and less rich than the Musgroves (Mrs Musgrove and Mrs Hayter are sisters who made differently prosperous matches). Charles is the eldest son and an heir to the small family property. He was chosen to be a gentleman of the family. too. He wants to become a clergyman.
- Nice Guy: Likes Henrietta and is generally a pleasant fellow. He wisely turns down his attentions when he feels Henrietta starts to pay attention to Captain Wentworth. Absence makes the heart go fonder and with Lousia's push, he and Henrietta continue their relationship.
- Unable to Support a Wife: Must secure a position of a curate or get a parsonage before he can get married.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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, but still, they are not first cousins.
- 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".