Captain Frederick Wentworth is the male love interest in Persuasion. Captain Wentworth is the younger brother of Mr. Wentworth, the curate of Monkford. Both of his parents are dead. He has one sister, Mrs. Croft, who is married to Admiral Croft. Although he was originally not wealthy at all, he had made no less than £20,000 while abroad, making him a very desirable marriage prospect. He marries Anne Elliot, the middle daughter of a baronet, in 1814.
Affection for AnneEdit
Captain Wentworth stayed at Monkford estate in 1806 with his brother, and harbored an affection for Anne Elliot, the middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall. Saying that Sir Walter simply disapproved of the possible marriage between his daughter and Captain Wentworth would be a severe understatement; Sir Walter found it to be degrading in all aspects. He was astonished and immediately became cold towards his middle daughter. Lady Russell, who also did not approve, went about it in a much more genteel way than how Sir Walter acted. Captain Wentworth had nearly nothing to his name at this point, and was a simple 'sailor', not even a gentleman.
When Lady Russell and Sir Walter convinced Anne to break her engagements and promises she had with Wentworth, he was hurt and felt ill-used. He left Somersetshire. This did have a lasting negative effect on Anne, who lost much of her beauty and liveliness due to heartbreak. She also never replaced him, although offers from eligible gentlemen were made to her over the years.
The first ship, a sloop, that he commanded was The Asp, and he was the last man who commanded her. She had hardly been fit for service when he had acquired her, but Admiral Croft commended her highly. Wentworth captured several privateers and pirates while commanding The Asp, and he claimed he never had a day of bad weather while sailing her.
He then acquired a French frigate, which ended the luck the Asp brought. He was hit by a storm that would've killed him if he had still been in the Asp, but he managed to survive, much to Anne's great relief. The ship was called The Laconia. Wentworth took on Richard Musgrove as one of his crew while captaining the Laconia. He did not like Dick Musgrove, but talked serenely and deeply about him with Mrs. Musgrove when the lady asked. He made no less than £20,000 while abroad.
Return to EnglandEdit
Captain Wentworth was to return to England in order to see his sister and her husband as they were renting Kellynch Hall from Sir Walter. The captain had been the commander of a frigate. The news of his return shook Anne's nerves greatly.
Wentworth stayed with his sister and brother-in-law at Kellynch, the very home of the man who had scorned his suit for his daughter. Upon seeing Anne again, it was awkward for both of them. He was rather ungallant and told Henrietta Musgrove that Anne looked so different that he would not have recognized her. In his defense, he did not know that what he said would reach Anne, although he was still angry at her for how he thought she used him. He also wanted to marry, as he was rich and needed a wife.
His interactions with his former love Anne were very awkward. He was coldly civil to her, much to her dismay, as he was still reeling with hurt from the past. He spent a lot of time at Uppercross where the Musgroves lived, and where Anne was staying with her sister Mary, since he had admirers in Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove, as well as the Miss Hayters. He told stories about his time abroad and the ships that he captained.
Pursuit of Louisa MusgroveEdit
He told his sister that he intended to find a wife and he began to pursue one of the Musgrove girls, although it was clear this was in large part to spite Anne. He then set his eyes on Louisa, who told him some information about Anne's past that he did not know: that Charles Musgrove preferred Anne to Mary and had proposed to Anne first. Wentworth's sister, Sophia didn't actually approve of either Musgrove girl for her dear brother. She never spoke of her disapproval, but it was clear to Anne.
Wentworth began to pay special attention to Louisa, as Henrietta had an understanding with her cousin, Charles Hayter, who had disliked Wentworth from their first meeting since he viewed him as a rival. When Wentworth heard that his old friend from the navy, Captain Harville, was staying in Lyme with his wife and another naval friend Captain Benwick, Wentworth suggested that the Musgroves, including Anne, come with him to Lyme for a holiday. The idea was well met, and Anne agreed to the invitation as well. While in Lyme, Louisa suffered a bad concussion when trying to jump down from a few steps. She was bedridden initially, and Wentworth was beside himself with horror—as he felt it was his fault that she was injured. They were all very relieved when a surgeon examined Louisa and proclaimed she would be fine as long as she rested.
Wentworth realized that his behaviour towards Louisa constituted a courtship and that the Musgroves expected this to result in an engagement. As he has no interest in pursuing Louisa, especially having been in Anne's presence and realized she is still the superior woman, he left Lyme to stay with his brother and wife in Shropshire, hoping Louisa's attachment to him will lessen due to his absence.
While Wentworth was away in Shropshire, Louisa turned her affections to Wentworth's and Harville's naval friend, James Benwick. Wentworth let her go, ostensibly "not one to make a fuss about such things" but secretly relieved having escaped a possible engagement to a woman he did not love.
Stay in BathEdit
As Luisa recouped in Lyme, Anne went to Bath to rejoin her father and sister. Wentworth went to stay with his sister and brother in law in Bath. He ran into Anne and escorted her home when there was no room in Lady Dalrymple's barouche. It was raining, so he offered the use of his umbrella.
Wentworth's affection for Anne was reborn since his return to England and it steadily grew. In bath he attended a concert hosted by Lady Dalrymple because he knew Anne would be there. They were very aware of each other through the entire event. Unfortunately Captain Wentworth overheard that Mr. Elliot planned to propose marriage to Anne (and all expected Anne to accept). He became so jealous and stricken that he had to leave the event early despite his love of music.
In 1806 when first falling in love with Anne, Captain Wentworth was a fine looking young man. He had a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy. He was also witty, which did not help him win the affection of Anne's beloved's godmother, Lady Russell, who believed it to be an aggravation of the devil.
Wentworth met and fell in love with Anne when they lived near each other in 1806. He was 23 and she was 19. They would never stop talking and they were lively in their romance. He proposed to Anne and was accepted. He was incredibly hurt when she broke off the engagement, at the refusal of her father and persuasion of Lady Russell. This was due to Wentworth being a young sailor with no money and no prospects. Since Wentworth knew the main reasons to be Lady Russell and her father, he blamed Anne for being weak minded and easily persuaded as opposed to finding her own path.
When Wentworth returned to England to visit his sister and brother-in-law, after eight years abroad, he was a naval Captain and had made a small fortune which made him a very eligible bachelor. When he met Anne again, he was initially at a loss for how to feel. He was still very hurt so he turned his attentions resolutely away from Anne to the Musgrove girls, who happily fawned over him. He was so intent on ignoring Anne and possibly slighting her, he did not realize his attention to Louisa was such that it appeared he was courting her.
As Wentworth interacted with Anne at Uppercross and Lyme, he fell in love with her again. He went to stay in Bath with Admiral and Mrs Croft specifically so that he might meet and interact with Anne. He was jealous and worried when he realized that Mr. Elliot, heir presumptive to the Elliot baronetcy, was interested in Anne as well. Wentworth finally made his sentiments known in a personal letter that he handed to Anne himself. She, too, had never loved anyone else and they married, this time with support from her family.