Who are the major characters in Persuasion? Describe the characters who change from the beginning to end of the novel.

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Since the novel's title, "persuasion", implies that people are being persuaded, or made to change their opinion or actions by others, the development of characters is the major preoccupation of much of the story.  Most of the major characters in this novel change in a significant way, while some of the secondary characters exhibit their steadfastness for good or for ill, as the case may be.  Anne, of course, exhibits a great change of heart, especially in her opinion of Capt. Wentworth.  She grows more able to trust her own opinion about him, and is less willing to rely on authority figures such as Lady Russell and her own father, Sir Walter.  Capt. Wentworth himself experiences no change in his love of Anne, but finds himself able to soften toward her when he knows that she is now able to make her own decisions.  Significantly, he becomes able to get past his own hurts and to see Anne's predicament, and then appreciate when she is able to accept him.  Capt. Benwick is able to shake off his melancholy over his grief for his sister during the course of the novel, but his development is less a progression than an escape.  Mrs. Clay changes drastically during the novel when she is proved false by running away with William.  William Elliot, by the same token, appears to be a forthright man, but by the end of the novel is proved to be unfaithful.  The characters who change little are Lady Russel, Mr. and Mrs. Croft, and Sir Walter. 

 

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Persuasion

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