Upon meeting, Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot were immediately attracted to one another. He lived with his brother, the curate at Monkford, and was thought to be intelligent, spirited, and brilliant; on her part, Anne was an extremely pretty girl, gentle, modest, tasteful, and feeling (Austen 65). They fell “rapidly and deeply in love” (Austen 65).
Sir Walter and Lady Russell were immediately against the match, but for different reasons: while Sir Walter thought the alliance “degrading,” Lady Russell was concerned more about the young suitor’s ability to advance in career and provide for Anne (Austen 66), as women relied on men to provide for them during the 19th Century. Therefore, Lady Russell examined Wentworth’s character according to his personality which, their Free Indirect Discourse shows, is sanguine (Austen 66). A sanguine temper, or personality type, is the life of the party: he has “fearlessness of mind,” is “brilliant” and “headstrong” (Austen 66). Lady Russell knew that Anne is very different in temperament from Wentworth. Do opposite’s attract?
Examining Anne’s personality type, she is phlegmatic, which is described as meek, submissive, introverted, peace-maker, always puts others first, blames herself, trustworthy, extremely friendly, and her emotions are internal (web). Through Direct, Indirect, and Free Indirect Discourse with the other characters, Anne demonstrates these characteristics. Mary says, “I cannot possibly do without Anne” (Austen 72). Mary and Charles, in turn, confide in Anne, blaming the other for spoiling the children (Austen 80). Even Mrs. Musgrove trusts Anne to “set things right” with Mary, her daughter-in-law (Austen 81).
While Sir Walter, Lady Russel, and Elizabeth are all choleric (Type A) personalities who take charge and are self-centred, Mary appears to be sanguine (open, extroverted, friendly, can’t be alone); Mary complains of being left alone despite seeing people every day (Austen 75). Admiral and Mrs. Croft are like the out-going and amiable Captain Wentworth, always busy and personable, exploring, and happy to interact daily with the families of the neighbourhood. In addition, Mrs. Croft happily accompanied her husband during his sea voyages for fifteen years (Austen 103). Similarly, Captain Wentworth and Louisa seem to make a perfect match as a replica of the older couple: both are extroverts who are determined and sure of themselves; Cpt. Wentworth says, “I honour you!” after Louisa intones about her desire to never be separated from her future husband (Austen 115).
Anne seems to meet her perfect match in Captain Benwick who is melancholic: he suffers heavily, unites very strong feelings with quiet, serious, and retiring manners, and loves to read and study as does Anne (Austen 126-130). Anne quickly puts her caring qualities to use in caring for Cpt. Benwick: she recommends certain authors who may help him overcome losing his love, which is ironic, as Anne still has not recovered from her romance with Cpt. Wentworth. Captain Wentworth is Anne’s opposite in every way, yet she is still in love with him. Who will she marry? A later entry will reveal her choice, or read the book and find out.
Jane Austen. Persuasion. Edited by Linda Bree. Broadview Literary Texts. 1998.