In Persuasion, personal appearance helps to identify the characters. For example, in the first chapter, we are told that Sir Walter is handsome, and his preoccupation for physical appearances is only inferior to his concern for the baronetcy. We also learn that his wife had married him for his good looks and his eldest daughter, Elisabeth, likens him because she is attractive as well. However, the ironic tone impels us to undermine characters as Sir Walter, for being vain, and encourages us to value Anne Elliot’s moral superiority. In fact, Anne had been pretty too, but since she has lost her bloom at the age of twenty-seven, her upright attributes makes her likeable.
Other characters are also characterized by their physical appearance such as Mrs. Clay, who is described as having freckles and projecting teeth and Mrs. Croft for having a sun tanned complexion.