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Sir Walter Elliot

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Sir Walter Elliot is a main character in Persuasion. He is a baronet[3] and lives at Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire. He is a widower and was married to Elizabeth Stevenson Elliot until she died 13 years hence. He has three daughters by her, Elizabeth Elliot, Anne Elliot, and Mary Musgrove. Sir Walter was born March 1st, 1760[1]. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. on the 15th of July, 1784. She died in the year 1800[1].

BiographyEdit

DebtsEdit

After Lady Elliot died, there was no one to curb Sir Walter's spending and lack of frugality, thus he pitched headlong into vanity and overspending, beggaring his family and putting it into a lot of debt[1]. His favorite daughter Elizabeth, ran the estate since the death of her mother, but shared her father's lack of financial sense.

His attorney, Mr. Shepherd, and his late wife's friend Lady Russell, urged the Elliot family to spend time away from Kellynch. It was between London, Bath, and the country. Sir Walter had been aiming for London, but Shepherd and Lady Russell convinced him it should be Bath[4].

Move to BathEdit

Sir Walter was apprehensive at first about a naval officer and his wife renting Kellynch. As he was all about appearances, he was more concerned with the physical beauty of his renters as well as their manners and breeding. When he met Admiral Croft, he was actually quite pleased, and declared the admiral one of the best-looking naval officers he had ever seen[5]. When he and Elizabeth moved to Bath for the season, they brought along Mrs. Clay, Elizabeth's friend. This annoyed Lady Russell, who felt that Anne was being ignored for the sake of a lawyer's daughter[4].

Sir Walter rented a townhouse on Camden-place, a fashionable part of Bath. Mrs. Clay stayed with them throughout the whole time, and Sir Walter grew to like her[6]. While Anne was staying at Uppercross with the Musgroves and Lady Russell was away, William Elliot came to call at the Bath townhouse. He was apologetic and looking to reconcile with the family. Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Mrs. Clay thought he was the most genial man with very impeccable manners and wealth[2]. His money came from his late first wife, Mrs. William Elliot, who was very plumply dowered[1]. The late Mrs. Elliot left William with a large fortune[7].

He was pleased when it seemed like William and Elizabeth were growing fond of each other, as he always knew would be proper. Anne was worried to see that Mrs. Clay might have designs on her father, and he thought quite well of the woman, considering she was not a gentlewoman.

Arrival of Lady DalrympleEdit

Sir Walter and his eldest daughter were ecstatic about the arrival of Lady Dalrymple, a dowager viscountess, and her daughter. Sir Walter used to converse with the late Lord Dalrymple, a cousin of his, before the man's death. A misunderstanding led to the estrangement between the two houses. Sir Walter and Elizabeth annoyed Anne by forever mentioning and namedropping the Dalrymples, doing anything they could to alert others and themselves to the family connection[2]. They visited the Dalrymples at their rented house on Laura-place to begin the acquaintance. They were successful and they visited Lady Dalrymple and her daughter quite a bit after that[8]. When Sir Walter heard that Anne visited her former governess instead of coming with them to visit Lady Dalrymple, he became immensely snobby and criticized the poor woman. Anne withheld from pointing out the similarity between her visiting Mrs. Smith, and their putting up Mrs. Clay[8].

The Elliots were invited to a concert hosted by Lady Dalrymple. They were the first ones there—quite unfashionable—and took their places in the octagon room to wait for Lady Dalrymple[9]. Sir Walter noticed Frederick Wentworth, the man whom he had previously forbidden from marrying Anne, and thought him quite a genial man now—perhaps because of his newly acquired wealth.

Final days in BathEdit

Wentworth asked for Sir Walter's consent in proposing to his daughter, and this time the notion was greeted with more civility, as Wentworth was no longer a nobody. Mrs. Clay ran away with William Elliot, showing her true colors to Sir Walter and Elizabeth, both of whom were surprised at how she deceived them[10].

Personality and traitsEdit

He enjoyed reading about the history of the baronetcy and the Elliot family, and these pursuits often inspired contempt, pity, and pride. He was vain about his familial origins[1].

He was also not frugal, and wanted the best of everything to show his class so he spent, putting his family in a lot of debt.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Persuasion, Chapter 1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chapter 16
  3. Baronets are not peers, but are in possession of a title. It is a hereditary title, and passes to the firstborn son or the nearest male heir.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Chapter 2
  5. Chapter 3
  6. Chapter 13
  7. Chapter 12
  8. 8.0 8.1 Chapter 17
  9. Chapter 19
  10. Chapter 24

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