Why Persuasion's Anne Elliot is an Austen fan favourite

Alice Gawthrop 8 July 2022

As a new Austen adaptation hits our screens this July, fans share why Anne Elliot is one of their favourite characters of all time

Jane Austen has breathed life into a vast amount of characters, but Anne Elliot remains an enduring fan favourite. With the new adaptation of Persuasion arriving on Netflix in July, we asked Jane Austen fans why they love Anne in particular. The answers were persuasive!

She’s complex and well-rounded

“She’s so unique as a heroine. Sure, we love seeing the young, bright and energetic Lizzies and Emmas, but Anne resonates with women for her complexity and melancholy. Real women have regrets and are lonely. They have complex feelings. And for all this, they can still be smart and strong and loving. When I read about Anne I see myself, and I see all the other women like me…She encompasses the dark and the light of life as a woman, and I’ll always love her for that.”
(coat-of-stars)

“Anne is my favourite because although she is quiet, she does have a strength within her…She loves Wentworth from afar, and even when she feels that all hope is gone she still keeps going.”
(geekyloveofbooks)

“She is both self-denying and a badass. She embodies so many contradictions, but shows that through resilience, integrity, honesty and ultimately love, one can grow strong and possibly even find happiness.”
(Plain-Jane4)

She’s an introvert—but that doesn’t mean she’s totally passive

Still from Persuasion © Nick Wall

“I think Anne is one of the best introvert heroines I’ve ever read about…The way that she manages situations is very characteristically introverted but nonetheless brave and filled with integrity. She organises people after Louisa’s fall not by yelling and giving orders, but by firmly suggesting the next step, and giving her opinion about who should do it. Her calm way of taking charge is good for everybody around, who need someone calm to look to in that moment…She's kind and helpful to those around her, even when they don't deserve it, but at the same time would never do something that went against her values.”
(justcallmePen)

“I think that, as a quiet, introverted woman, it can be easy to feel like a wallflower—an observer who no one notices and who will have life pass her by. Anne is a great heroine for women like me because she is those things—quiet, observant, introverted, and sometimes taken for granted—but the novel also shows her as someone good, intelligent and deserving of being a heroine, someone who can be genuinely appreciated and loved by people in the end, and someone who is worthy. Someone who matters. Anne is a heroine that gives people hope that things can get better, and that it just takes the right people to come along and appreciate you for who you are.”
(biIIyshakes)

"Anne is a heroine that gives people hope that things can get better"

“…one of the most appealing things about Anne, and something superbly done with her character, is the sharing of her wonderfully alive inner self. As an introvert, most of my self is inside my head, not shared with others (or only those I trust implicitly)…It’s easy for quiet people to get passed over and overlooked because we don’t put ourselves out there, but we’re still wonderful and valuable people. Austen makes this so clear with Anne, and it resonates with those like her who can relate.”
(afavorite08)

She goes after what she wants

“In the end, that is what Anne Elliot represents to me: making the best of things no matter what. To persevere. The best part of that, however, is that it never meant she gave up or resigned herself to her fate…the second she realised [Captain Wentworth] still had feelings for her, she began pursuing her happiness [with him].”
(CapStar300)

Still from Persuasion © Nick Wall

Many women can relate to the societal pressure Anne faces

“At the core of the book sits a heroine who is invisible to others except for the emotional labor she can do for them (and who among us women past a certain age hasn't felt that way?). In the end, Anne has gotten a second chance at love and has found other people who genuinely care about her. I deeply admire her quiet composure, her rich inner self and her keen insight, and I love that she becomes more self-assured as the novel goes on. Even today, women above a certain age are treated the same way Anne was at the beginning, so seeing her go through this arc is rewarding.”
(SameOldSongs)

“Anne often gets overlooked and when she’s not overlooked, it’s because someone needs her to fulfil a motherly type role…She’s my favourite over the other fan favourites like Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse because she’s just as clever but no one but a select few people around her realise that.”
(aimee_not_amy)

"And who among us women past a certain age hasn't felt that way?"

“I also related to Anne because she’s an ‘older’ heroine. I read Persuasion in my mid-20s, and I was single and definitely related somewhat to the struggles Anne went through.”
(writeswithtea)

She represents a different kind of “Strong Female Character”

“Anne has a lot of qualities that aren’t prized by modern writers and filmmakers. The trope of the Strong Female Character gets exhausting…Anne has qualities that might be discarded as too traditionally feminine. Her patience is limitless, as is her compassion. She always deals graciously with those around her, even those that don't deserve it. She's sensible and kind and reliable in a crisis.”
(Webbie-Vanderquack)

Dakota Johnson in Persuasion © Nick Wall

“The ‘women have to be sassy to be strong’ narrative is excessively overdone. Anne, in contrast, is such a beautiful reminder that strength can be quiet and gentle.”
(MarraMirr)

She shows growth without losing herself

“She is probably the Austen heroine who shows the greatest growth as a person. She made mistakes early on but earns her redemption.”
(tarantina68)

“I love the way Anne is written because we see her growth but her essence never changes. In her past she was enchanting and smart, but insecure—which is on par with most of us during that age. When we meet her as an adult, we know that maturity has made her stronger and reliable, while still being clever and sweet. Finally, when she receives the attention she deserves (but doesn't really care for) we're shown intelligence, integrity, compassion…Honestly, Wentworth never stood a chance, and neither did we.”
(addamslittlewanda)

Persuasion is coming to Netflix on July 15.

Read more: Why Jane Austen's wallflowers deserve love too

Read more: The naughty teenage writings of Jane Austen

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