Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Anne Elliot, the heroine, second daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, and the victim of persuasion. Although pretty and attractive, she has always been ignored by her family. When quite young, she had been wooed by Frederick Wentworth, then a junior officer in the Royal Navy; but because of her father’s disapproval and the advice of her mother’s friend, Lady Russell, she had given him up in spite of her love. At the age of twenty-six, she meets him again; his brother-in-law and sister have leased the Elliot property. Wentworth, now a captain and rich through prize money, seems to have forgotten her, although she still loves him. He is apparently in love with Louisa Musgrove. Having joined her family at Bath, Anne receives the attentions of her cousin, William Elliot, whose charm makes some impression upon her. Through an old school friend, Mrs. Smith, she learns of William’s cold, calculating, and selfish character. Although happy to be enlightened, she is still distressed by Wentworth’s indifference. To her joy, he finally realizes that he is not in love with Louisa and proposes to Anne. Since William is now wealthy and a captain, Sir Walter can no longer oppose the match, and the story ends happily.
Sir Walter Elliot
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, Anne’s father. Inordinately vain of his ancestry and his good looks, he is a foolish man who lives beyond his income until he is forced to lease...
(The entire section is 767 words.)
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Anne Elliot, Sir Elliot's middle daughter, possesses an elegant mind and sweet character recognized by all but her father and sister, who regard her as ordinary and so do not pay her much attention. Years ago, during her relationship with Wentworth, Anne had been quite attractive, but the pain she suffered after their split caused her "bloom" to vanish early.
Anne's loyalty and sense of family duty emerged as she forced herself to follow her father's and Lady Russell's advice concerning her engagement to Wentworth. Her naïve and gentle nature could not stand up to these two powerful influences in her life. She especially trusted Lady Russell's good council and so was persuaded to admit that a marriage to Wentworth would be improper and imprudent. Her unselfishness extended to Wentworth, whom she was convinced would also benefit from the breaking of their engagement, a belief that helped her endure their painful split.
Years later, Anne displays her maturity and levelheadedness as she constructs a plan with Lady Russell to help her father economize. Mary and her friends recognize her responsible nature and her kind heart, which emerges as she nurses her sister and takes charge after Louisa falls from the Cobb. All, except her father and sister, look to Anne for direction when a problem arises.
Over the years, Anne develops a keen understanding of human nature and so recognizes her father's and sister's shallow class consciousness....
(The entire section is 393 words.)
William Elliot, Esq., Anne's cousin and the heir presumptive to the Elliot inheritance, had a falling out with the family after his relationship with Elizabeth failed to end in marriage. The family had also discovered that he had "spoken most disrespectfully of them," which they could not forgive. Soon after, he married a rich woman "of inferior birth." After she died, he tried to resume his relationship with Elizabeth, but she would not consider it.
Eventually, he reestablishes his relationship with the family by insisting that his treatment of them had been due to an unfortunate misunderstanding. Sir Walter forgives him, and the family now becomes "delighted" with him, influenced by his charm and the fortune he has amassed through marriage. William now turns his attentions to Anne, who initially is flattered. To all, he appears polished, agreeable, and sensible. His conversations with others reveal "correct opinions" about the world and family honor. He also displays a kind heart and a sense of moderation.
The family assumes that he will marry Anne. While she admits the thought of being able to move back to Kellynch is hard to resist, she decides there is something about his character that bothers her. She distrusts his past, due to rumors that he had indulged in bad habits. Also, although he appears to be rational and discreet, he is not open. Anne notices that he never displays his emotions—any "warmth of indignation or delight." She...
(The entire section is 338 words.)
Benwick, "an excellent young man," had been engaged to Captain Harville's sister. Anne meets him when she and her group travel to Lyme to visit Harville, Wentworth's friend. Harville's sister died the preceding summer while Benwick was at sea, and he has been in mourning ever since. Anne notes his "melancholy air" and his withdrawal from conversation. When she strikes up a friendship with him, she finds that his need to be useful prompts him to keep busy, constructing toys for the children and fixing things for the Harvilles. He and Anne discuss poetry, but she warns him of its power to stir the emotions and so suggests that he read it sparingly.
Elizabeth strikes up a friendship with Mrs. Clay, the daughter of Mr. Shepherd, the family's lawyer. Mrs. Clay has returned to her father's house with her children after an unprosperous marriage. She has a sharp mind and "understood the art of pleasing," which makes her untrustworthy to Anne and Lady Russell, who consider her friendship with Elizabeth "dangerous." They both believe that she would like to form a romantic relationship with Sir Walter.
Admiral Croft and his wife rent Kellynch Hall after the Elliots move to Bath. His "goodness of heart and simplicity of character" are "irresistible" to Anne.
Mrs. Croft is a "well-spoken, genteel, shrewd lady," who appears older than her...
(The entire section is 1511 words.)