Last Updated on December 22, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 767
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 Wentworth 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 Kellynch and live at Bath. He neglects Anne in favor of his oldest daughter, whom he wishes to marry his heir, William Elliot. He is almost snared by Elizabeth’s scheming friend, Mrs. Clay, but is saved by William.
Elizabeth Elliot, the oldest daughter of Sir Walter. She is handsome but cold and selfish. Unable to make a brilliant match, she remains unmarried.
Mary Musgrove, the youngest daughter of Sir Walter and the wife of Charles Musgrove. She is spoiled and selfish.
Charles Musgrove, her husband, a typical sporting country squire.
Captain Frederick Wentworth
Captain Frederick Wentworth, the hero of the novel. When a young and penniless officer, he had fallen in love with Anne Elliot and she with him, but she had given him up because of family opposition and the advice of her friend, Lady Russell. When he meets Anne again after eight years, he seems no longer interested in her; rather, he is apparently in love with Louisa Musgrove. But further association with Anne makes him aware of her real worth; he proposes again and is accepted. Since he is now a captain and a rich man, the Elliots can no longer oppose him, and the marriage can take place.
Admiral Croft and
Mrs. Croft, brother-in-law and sister of Wentworth. They lease Kellynch Hall.
William Elliot, the villain of the novel. Although heir to Sir Walter’s title and estates, William, as a young man, takes no interest in his cousins. Instead of marrying Elizabeth, as Sir Walter had hoped, he married the wealthy daughter of a grazier. Being left a rich widower, he becomes interested in his family and cultivates their friendship at Bath. Having charming manners, he makes a favorable impression upon Anne until she learns from Mrs. Smith of his scheming character. He also selfishly prevents a marriage between Sir Walter and Mrs. Clay, a match that might ruin his prospects, by inducing Mrs. Clay to become his mistress.
Mr. Musgrove and
Mrs. Musgrove, of Uppercross, Charles’s parents.
Louisa Musgrove, their daughter. It seems that she may marry Wentworth, especially after she is injured in an accident that he considers his fault; however, she marries Captain Benwick.
Henrietta Musgrove, her sister, who marries her cousin, Charles Hayter.
Lady Russell, a widow and an old friend of the Elliot family. She persuades Anne not to marry Wentworth because of his uncertain future.
Mr. Shepherd, Sir Walter’s agent, who has the task of persuading him to lease Kellynch Hall.
Mrs. Clay, Shepherd’s scheming daughter. She insinuates herself into the Elliot family in order to marry Sir Walter but in the end becomes William Elliot’s mistress.
Mrs. Charles Smith
Mrs. Charles Smith, a school friend of Anne. Formerly wealthy, she is now a poor and ill widow living at Bath. She reveals to Anne the true character of William Elliot.
Captain Benwick, a melancholy widower who, after being attentive to Anne Elliot, marries Louisa Musgrove.