Notable Characters: Anne Elliot, Frederick Wentworth, Sir Walter Elliot, Lady Russell, Henrietta Musgrove, Louisa Musgrove, William Elliot.
Persuasion was written between 1815 and 1816 and was Jane Austen’s final completed novel. The heroine is a young woman, Anne Elliot, who is 27 years old at the start of the novel and is the second of three daughters of Sir Walter. She is treated like a Cinderella figure by her widowed father and older sister Elizabeth, who at age 29 years; runs the home. Sir Walter is in debt and is forced to move from the family home, Kellynch-hall, to a more modest dwelling in Bath. Kellynch-hall is leased to Admiral and Mrs. Sophia Croft; the latter has two brothers, Mr. Edward Wentworth and Captain Frederick Wentworth.
Anne and Wentworth reunite at a concert in Bath and Wentworth professes that he could never have loved Louisa, providing Anne with hope that he may be returning to her. An estranged cousin of Anne, William Elliot is trying to court Anne but due to her love for Wentworth, she does not respond. Upon her firm decline, Anne is told the true character of William by a close friend. He does not love Anne but believes that through their courtship he can have an influence and ultimately prevent the marriage of Sir Walter to a woman, Mrs. Clay, which will protect his inheritance. Anne believes she should tell Lady Russell at once of William’s true nature but she then sees William and Mrs. Clay meeting on the street and a number of questions occupy her mind.
Jon Spence states in his biography of Jane Austen that “Persuasion is the most unsettled of Austen’s novels.” He believes that the transition from prudence to romance that Anne takes is not in terms of romantic love but instead in her perception of the world.
Persuasion (1995). Directed by Roger Michell. Starring Amanda Root, Ciaran Hinds, Susan Fleetwood, Colin Redgrave. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114117/
Persuasion (2007; TV production). Directed by Adrian Shergold. Starring Sally Hawkins, Rupert Penry-Jones. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844330/
Anne Elliot: There is the possibility that Anne Elliot is very similar to Cassandra Austen. They both have a reserved nature and also remain very dedicated the memory of their lost love. If this is the reality, then the character of Anne pays wonderful tribute to Cassandra.
As mentioned above, there is also a similarity between the circumstances of Anne and Wentworth’s original separation and the experience that Jane and Tom encountered.
Frederick Wentworth: Two of Jane Austen’s brothers, Francis and Charles, pursued naval careers which Jane would have respected immensely. She would have also known significant details of the profession which would have aided the development of her hero’s character.
Pic 2: Wentworth giving Anne his letter. Taken from the Jane Austen Society website.