Who is Anne Elliot? Persuasion character explained

Anne Elliot is the protagonist of Persuasion and a Jane Austen creation. She has a sharp wit that she uses to make up for her sadness over a lost love. The character is played by Dakota Johnson.

Anne Elliot is the middle child of Sir Walter Elliot, a wealthy baronet who’s quite vain and cares for not much but himself. She has two sisters, Elizabeth, the older sister and Mary, the younger sister who more or less share similar traits to their father.

A woeful past

Anne Elliot is a stunning contrast to her sisters. She doesn’t have the same need for attention or elaborate possessions that signify a person’s wealth.

She takes more comfort in the simplicity of life, evidenced by the fact that she had fallen in love with a sailor, Frederick Wentworth, who was a commoner without fortune or status. She was forced to give him up and has spent 8 years living in torment because of her hurt feelings.

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Anne Elliot kept mementos from her past connected to Frederick

She gets no pity from her father or sisters who treat her as the black sheep of the family, always commenting on her beauty or lack thereof.

The only person she trusts is Lady Russell, her late mother’s closest friend and her godmother. Although it was Lady Russell who had persuaded her to give up Frederick in the first place because she knew what a marriage is all about for a woman.

A second chance at love

When Frederick returns to her life as a captain who is well established and known within the navy, she has a wave of emotions rushing over her. For so many years she kept track of his life and held on to the hope that they could be together again.

However, the fact that he never reached out after gaining his rank was a stick to beat her devotion with. She feared that he knew exactly why she gave up on him and had too much self-respect to find his way back to her.

Who is Anne Elliot? Persuasion character explained 2
There was always a sense of awkwardness between Anne Elliot and Frederick

They spend the next few days with this awkward back and forth as they clearly still care for each other, but when Anne’s sister-in-law, Louisa, expresses interest in Frederick, it complicates matters between the two.

Her friendship with her distant cousin, William Elliot, makes things worse because of his selfish motivations and nefarious actions. He leads Frederick to believe that he is to be wed to Anne before he actually asks her and this news seems to push him to edge.

He agrees to board the next ship out of the harbour but thanks to a timely realization by Anne, their love is reignited as the two of them reveal that they’ve been in love for all this time and were just too stubborn to share their feelings.

Other portrayals

Anne Elliot is the oldest protagonist that Jane Austen has created and while wealth and status are a key feature of her novels, Persuasion sees a shift as the rich and elite are ridiculed by the main character.

She shows no regard for it when she falls in love with Frederick and eventually gives up the easy life of the land as a wealthy baroness for a life at sea with her husband and the navy.

On television and film, the character has seen multiple portrayals over the years with the character formerly being played by Daphne Slater (1960), Anne Firbank (1971), Amanda Root (1995), and Sally Hawkins (2007).

Also Read: Persuasion (2022) ending explained: Does Anne Elliot end up with Frederick?

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