Captain Benwick is also a fellow naval officer and friend of Captain Wentworth’s. He was engaged to Captain Harville’s sister, Fanny, but she died before they could marry. Captain Benwick lives with the Harvilles’ and falls in love with Louisa Musgrove during her convalescence at their house.
Mrs. Clay is the daughter of the Sir Walter’s estate manager, Mr. Shepherd. She made an “unprosperous” marriage and now lives with her father, although she spends much of her time as Elizabeth Elliot’s chosen companion. Through flattery, she is trying to get Sir Walter to fall in love with her and marry her.
Admiral Croft is the man to whom Sir Walter rents Kellynch-hall. His open, pleasing disposition makes him a favorite with the Musgroves. The fact that he is not too weather-beaten makes him an acceptable tenant in Sir Walter’s eyes.
Mrs. Croft is the wife of the admiral and the sister of Frederick Wentworth.
Anne is the gentle, modest middle daughter of a baronet, Sir Walter Elliot, and his wife Elizabeth, who died thirteen years before the action of the novel. When Anne was younger, she fell in love with a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth and became engaged to him. However, the Elliots felt the marriage to be beneath Anne and persuaded her to give up the engagement. Anne has secretly regretted her decision ever since.
Elizabeth is the eldest daughter of Sir Walter; she has presided as lady of the house since her mother’s death. Like her father, Elizabeth gives herself great consequence as an Elliot, and her vanity keeps her from worrying too much about “approaching the years of danger” as an old maid. At twenty-nine, she still has a few years left to find a husband. She was earlier disappointed when her cousin William—heir to her father’s estate—snubbed her and her father and therefore crushed her dreams of marrying him.
Sir Walter Elliot
Sir Walter Elliot is Anne’s father. He is a vain man who makes much of being a baronet. Unfortunately, his vanity and sense of entitlement lead him to overspend; his extravagance plunges his estate into debt and he must submit to cost-reducing measures, such as renting his grand home, Kellynch-hall, until his debts are repaid.
Mr. Elliot, a cousin of the Elliots, is heir-presumptive to Sir Walter’s title, lands, and fortune because Sir Walter has no son of his own. Mr. Elliot’s good looks and impeccable manners hide the fact that he is really a scheming, selfish man. He courts Anne without really loving her, and when his plan to marry her is thwarted, he takes up with Mrs. Clay.
Captain Harville is a fellow naval officer and friend of Captain Wentworth’s. Captain Wentworth goes to visit him in Lyme, where he lives with his family, and the Musgroves also meet him there. After Louisa Musgrove has her accident, she stays with the Harvilles until she can be moved home.
Henrietta is the sister of Louisa Musgrove and is for a time her competitor for the affections of Captain Wentworth. Instead, she becomes engaged to her cousin, Charles Hayter, who is to become a clergyman.
Louisa Musgrove is one of Charles’ younger sisters. A vivacious girl, she sets her cap at Captain Wentworth, who claims to like a girl with energy and spirit. Louisa overdoes her display of energy, however, and ends up falling from a wall in Lyme. During her recovery in Lyme, Louisa falls in love with Captain Benwick, thereby releasing Wentworth from their “understanding” of engagement.
Mary is the youngest daughter of Sir Walter. She is married to a gentleman, Charles Musgrove, and lives with him at Uppercross Cottage, on the estate of his parents. Mary is just as vain and snobbish as her father and eldest sister. She is never satisfied with her situation and always feels herself slighted.
Mrs. Musgrove is the mother of Charles, Louisa, and Henrietta Musgrove. She mourns her son Richard, a troublemaking young man who died at age twenty. Richard was once a sailor under Captain Wentworth.
Mr. Musgrove is the father of Charles, Louisa, and Henrietta Musgrove.
Lady Russell is an old family friend of Anne’s mother and the Elliots’ neighbor at Kellynch-hall. She is particularly fond of Anne and values Anne for her modesty and sense. It was she who chiefly persuaded Anne to give up her engagement to Wentworth when Anne was younger.
Mr. Shepherd is Sir Walter’s estate manager. When Sir Walter falls into serious debt, Mr. Shepherd recommends stringent cost cutting measures that Sir Walter finds insulting and unbearable.
Mrs. Smith is an old school friend of Anne’s. Once beautiful and lively, Anne finds Mrs. Smith crippled and living in poor conditions in Bath after her husband squandered their fortune before he died. Mrs. Smith keep abreast of Bath gossip and, when she hears that Anne is supposed to marry Mr. Elliot, warns Anne that it was Mr. Elliot who led to her husband’s downfall and her current state of poverty.
Captain Frederick Wentworth is a young, proud naval officer just returned from war—and very rich as a consequence. He claims to be on the search for a bride, but when his circumstances bring him into contact with Anne again, he struggles to overcome his resentment that she once broke her engagement to him. However, he finds that no other woman seems to compare to Anne.