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Guide Mentor

Character Role Analysis

Lady Russell

Lady Russell is mentor, friend, and surrogate mother for Anne. While she thinks her advice is good, she tends to ignore any input from Anne, such as when she votes for the Elliots moving to Bath despite Anne's hatred of the place.

Lady Russell felt obliged to oppose her dear Anne's known wishes. […] And with regard to Anne's dislike of Bath, she considered it as a prejudice and mistake arising, first, from the circumstance of her having been three years at school there, after her mother's death; and secondly, from her happening to be not in perfectly good spirits the only winter which she had afterwards spent there with herself. (2.11)

Lady Russell imposes her own interpretation on Anne’s bad feelings about Bath, putting them down to poor timing and unhappy associations rather than anything about Bath itself. Of course, demonstrating the irrationality of the reasons why Bath rubs Anne the wrong way doesn’t do much to change the fact that Anne can’t stand the place. For Lady Russell, her conviction that Bath shouldn’t bother Anne trumps Anne’s understanding of her own feelings, and it’s Lady Russell’s way or the highway.

At the end of the novel, however, she supports Anne's happiness in marrying Wentworth, even though it proves her wrong. This about-face suggests that, despite her misguided actions, she really does have Anne’s best interests at heart.