The Characters of Persuasion

Sir Walter Elliot

Sir Walter Elliot

The present baronet of Kellynch Hall in Somerset: "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,"

At the time the story opens, Sir Walter has been a widower for fourteen years. He has three daughters and no son which unfortunately means that his title and estate will pass to his nephew on his death. With the death of his wife came the death of his fortune and he is forced to retrench and let his house to a naval man!

Miss Elizabeth Elliot

Miss Elizabeth Elliot

Elizabeth is the oldest and favorite daughter of Sir Walter Elliot who has fulfilled the official role of mistress of Kellynch Hall since the death of her mother.

"and being very handsome, and very like himself, her influence had always been great, and they had gone on together most happily."

She is very handsome and elegant: "It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost."

But she is unmarried: "she had the consciousness of being nine-and-twenty to give her some regrets and some apprehensions; she was fully satisfied of being still quite as handsome as ever, but she felt her approach to the years of danger, and would have rejoiced to be certain of being properly solicited by baronet-blood within the next twelvemonth or two."

Miss Anne Elliot

Miss Anne Elliot

Anne is the second oldest of Sir Walter's daughters "with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way-- she was only Anne."

She had refused the offer of marriage from Captain Wentworth eight years ago - "been a very pretty girl, but her bloom had vanished early;" She is still in love with him though and is a bit uneasy when she learns that it is his sister and brother-in-law who are to rent Kellynch.

Lady Russell

Lady Russell

An old family friend "a sensible, deserving woman." "of steady age and character, and extremely well provided for"

She loves Anne and her sisters like a mother and wishes to see the family out of these troubles. "She was a benevolent, charitable, good woman, and capable of strong attachments, most correct in her conduct, strict in her notions of decorum, and with manners that were held a standard of good-breeding. She had a cultivated mind, and was, generally speaking, rational and consistent; but she had prejudices on the side of ancestry; she had a value for rank and consequence, which blinded her a little to the faults of those who possessed them."

Mr. Shepherd

Mr. Shepherd

"A civil, cautious lawyer," whom Sir Walter calls on, with the aid of Lady Russell, to advise him as to what should be done about his finances.

But "whatever might be his hold or his views on Sir Walter, would rather have the disagreeable prompted by anybody else, excused himself from offering the slightest hint, and only begged leave to recommend an implicit reference to the excellent judgment of Lady Russell"

Mrs. Clay

Mrs. Clay

The widowed daughter of Mr. Shepherd who is becoming an increasingly intimate friend of Elizabeth Elliot to the exclusion of Anne."She was a clever young woman, who understood the art of pleasing--the art of pleasing, at least, at Kellynch Hall"

Curiously Sir Walter and Elizabeth seem not to notice Mrs. Clay's obvious personal failures "Mrs. Clay had freckles, and a projecting tooth, and a clumsy wrist". They see only what they wish"but she was young, and certainly altogether well-looking, and possessed, in an acute mind and assiduous pleasing manners, infinitely more dangerous attractions than any merely personal might have been."

Mrs. Mary Musgrove

Mary Musgrove

Sir Walter's youngest daughter who is married and"often a little unwell, and always thinking a great deal of her own complaints, and always in the habit of claiming Anne when anything was the matter, was indisposed; and foreseeing that she should not have a day's health all the autumn."

"While well, and happy, and properly attended to, she had great good humour and excellent spirits; but any indisposition sunk her completely. She had no resources for solitude; and inheriting a considerable share of the Elliot self-importance, was very prone to add to every other distress that of fancying herself neglected and ill-used. In person, she was inferior to both sisters, and had, even in her bloom, only reached the dignity of being 'a fine girl.'"

Mr. Charles Musgrove

Charles Musgrove

Mary's husband who "was civil and agreeable; in sense and temper he was undoubtedly superior to his wife, but not of powers, or conversation, or grace".

He finds great sport in shooting and often uses this as an excuse to stay from home. "He had very good spirits, which never seemed much affected by his wife's occasional lowness, bore with her unreasonableness sometimes to Anne's admiration, and upon the whole, though there was very often a little disagreement, they might pass for a happy couple."

He and Mary have two boys little Charles and Walter who are four and two years old. "As to the management of their children, his theory was much better than his wife's, and his practice not so bad."

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Musgrove, Esquire

Mr. & Mrs. Musgrove

Charles's parents "Mr and Mrs Musgrove were a very good sort of people; friendly and hospitable, not much educated, and not at all elegant.."

They live at Uppercross which Charles is to inherit. "The neighbourhood was not large, but the Musgroves were visited by everybody, and had more dinner-parties, and more callers, more visitors by invitation and by chance, than any other family. There were more completely popular."

Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove

Henrietta & Louisa Musgrove

The two eldest daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Musgrove and Charles's sisters who are "wild for dancing."

"Young ladies of nineteen and twenty, who had brought from school at Exeter all the usual stock of accomplishments, and were now like thousands of other young ladies, living to be fashionable, happy, and merry. Their dress had every advantage, their faces were rather pretty, their spirits extremely good, their manner unembarrassed and pleasant; they were of consequence at home, and favourites abroad."

Admiral Croft

Admiral Croft

"He is a rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there, I believe, several years."

He was " a very hale, hearty, well-looking man, a little weather-beaten, to be sure, but not much, and quite the gentleman in all his notions and behaviour."

He applies to Sir Walter for the rent of Kellynch Hall, and he accepts with this comment: "declared the Admiral to be the best looking sailor he had ever met with, and even went so far as to say, that if his own man might have the arranging of his hair, he should not be ashamed of being seen with him anywhere;"

To Anne: "His goodness of heart and simplicity of character were irresistible."

Mrs. Croft

Mrs. Croft

The wife of Admiral Croft " a very well-spoken, genteel, shrewd lady, she seemed to be." "though neither tall nor fat, had a squareness, uprightness, and vigour of form, which gave importance to her person. She had bright dark eyes, good teeth, and altogether an agreeable face; though her reddened and weather-beaten complexion, the consequence of her having been almost as much at sea as her husband," They are together a wonderful pair.

She is also the sister of Captain Wentworth and Anne finds her very agreeable. "Her manners were open, easy, and decided, like one who had no distrust of herself, and no doubts of what to do; without any approach to coarseness, however, or any want of good humour."

Captain Wentworth

Captain Frederick Wentworth

He is a captain in the navy and "a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy."

He had been in love with Anne Elliot and meant to marry her: "He had always been lucky; he knew he knew he should be so still. Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth, and bewitching in the wit which often expressed it, must have been enough for Anne."

"But Lady Russell saw it very differently. His sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on her.. "He was brilliant, he was headstrong. Lady Russell had little taste for wit, and anything approaching imprudence a horror. She deprecated the connection in every light." So she persuaded Anne to refuse him.

Eight years later "It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and being turned on shore, fully intended to settle as soon as he could be properly tempted; actually looking round, ready to fall in love with all the speed which a clear head and a quick taste could allow."

And the Miss Musgroves are reported to be in love with him "how much handsomer, how infinitely more agreeable they thought him than any individual among their male acquaintance."

Under these circumstances does Anne have another chance?

Mr. Charles Hayter

Charles Hayter

He "was the eldest of all the cousins, and a very amiable, pleasing young man, between whom and Henrietta there had been a considerable appearance of attachment previous to Captain Wentworth's introduction. He was in orders; and having a curacy in the neighbourhood, where residence was not required, lived at his father's house."

Captain Harville

Captain Harville

Was the intimate friend of Captain Wentworth and "was a tall, dark man, with a sensible, benevolent countenance; a little lame; and from strong features and want of health, looking much older than Captain Wentworth."

"though not equalling Captain Wentworth in manners, was a perfect gentleman, unaffected, warm, and obliging."

He and his family have taken lodgings in Lyme where Captain Wentworth and the Musgroves plan to visit them.

Mrs. Harville

Mrs. Harville

His wife and was "a degree less polished than her husband," but "seemed, however, to have the same good feelings; and nothing could be more pleasant than their desire of considering the whole party as friends of their own, because the friends of Captain Wentworth."

Captain Benwick

Captain James Benwick

A brother sailor of Captain Wentworth's and Captain Harville's " an excellent young man and an officer, whom he had always valued highly". He lived with the Harvilles after the tragic death of his fianceé, Fanny Harville, the sister of the Captain.

He "looked, and was, the youngest of the three, and, compared with either of them, a little man. He had a pleasing face and a melancholy air, just as he ought to have, and drew back from conversation."

After Fanny's death he buried himself in sorrow: "He was shy, and disposed to abstraction."

"He was evidently a young man of considerable taste in reading, though principally in poetry."

Mr. Elliot

Mr. William Elliot

Sir Walter's nephew and the heir to Kellynch Hall, Mr. Elliot has been estranged to his cousins since an imprudent marriage for money.

"He did justice to his very gentlemanlike appearance, his air of elegance and fashion, his good shaped face, his sensible eye; but, at the same time, "must lament his being very much under-hung, a defect which time seemed to have increased; nor could he pretend to say that ten years had not altered almost every feature for the worse."

Anne met him in passing in Lyme. "He was quite as good-looking as he had appeared at Lyme, his countenance improved by speaking, and his manners were so exactly what they ought to be, so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable, that she could compare them in excellence to only one person's manners. They were not the same, but they were, perhaps, equally good."

Anne learns more about him when she goes to Bath and Lady Russell sees in him a perfect match for her. "There could be no doubt of his being a sensible man. Ten minutes were enough to certify that. His tone, his expressions, his choice of subject, his knowing where to stop; it was all the operation of a sensible, discerning mind."

When it sounds too good to be true it usually is!

The Dowager Lady Dalrymple, Viscountess, and Miss Carteret

Lady Dalrymple & Miss Carteret

Mother and daughter, and cousins of Sir Walter, he feels an obligation toward them but Anne despises the way her father and Elizabeth bow to them.

"Had Lady Dalrymple and her daughter even been very agreeable, she would still have been ashamed of the agitation they created, but they were nothing. There was no superiority of manner, accomplishment, or understanding. Lady Dalrymple had acquired the name of "a charming woman," because she had a smile and a civil answer for everybody. Miss Carteret, with still less to say, was so plain and so awkward, that she would never have been tolerated in Camden Place but for her birth."

Mrs. Smith

Mrs. Smith

Anne's old school friend "Mrs Smith, had shewn her kindness in one of those periods of her life when it had been most valuable."

But after the death of her husband she has become "a widow and poor" as well as becoming and invalid. "She had had difficulties of every sort to contend with, and in addition to these distresses had been afflicted with a severe rheumatic fever, which, finally settling in her legs, had made her for the present a cripple."

Anne takes delight in visiting her in the poor section of town much to the dismay of Sir Walter and Elizabeth."the good sense and agreeable manners which she had almost ventured to depend on, and a disposition to converse and be cheerful beyond her expectation."

But who knows when being kind to an old school friend may pay off.


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