MCM: Captain Wentworth


Our Man Candy Monday on this Valentines Day is Captain Frederick Wentwork, if for nothing else than for his letter to Anne Elliot in Persuasion:

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”

If a person could find such a letter addressed to them and not feel loved, they are dead inside. OK, and it wouldn’t hurt if it came from one of these fellas, if that’s your thing!



Bryan Marshall in Persuasion (1971)

Bryan Marshall, Persuasion (1971)

This second TV adaption of the novel (the first was either lost or destroyed) is most notable for all the bouffants on the ladies, but Marshall makes for a decent Wentworth.



Ciarán Hinds in Persuasion (1995)

1995 Persuasion

But it’s hard to beat Hinds as the classic captain! And our only one in uniform, what’s up with that? I don’t recall in the novel that he’s retired from the navy, so why wouldn’t he wear a snazzy uniform on occasion? Protocol droids, er, experts, weigh in, please.



Rupert Penry-Jones in Persuasion (2007)

Persuasion (2007)

I do like him as Wentworth & he’s great with Sally Hawkins as Anne. But the rest of the production doesn’t measure up to them, so this version sits behind 1995.



Cosmo Jarvis in Persuasion (2022)

Cosmo Jarvis, Persuasion (2022)

Coming soon, Captain Wentworth as tech bro on a coffee break. No, really, if not for the fall-front pants, I’d think this guy is just wearing stuff from The Gap & carrying a file folder on the way to his next venture capital meeting. WE CAN DO BETTER PPL.



Which onscreen Captain Wentworth would be your valentine?

37 Responses

  1. Colleen

    I don’t think Wentworth is retired. He’s basically on furlough, because there are no wars. His brother-in-law, is the one that is allegedly retired, even though he talks as though he’s going back to fight Bonaparte with the rest of the Royal Navy. I can’t remember if he’s written as always in uniform.

    • Aleko

      Austen never says anything about what any of the officers in the book wear, because she (the sister of two sea officers, both future admirals) knew and expected her readers to know that they would be in civilian dress, it being improper to wear uniform when on leave.

      • Colleen

        That would make sense. I’m obviously not from that time, so I didn’t know the societal rules. I was going to ask about Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, but realized he was only ever on leave once in the book, after returning from marrying Lydia.

  2. Aleko

    Ciaran Hinds for me, every time. Penry-Jones was very pretty, don’t get me wrong, but I never for a moment believed he was a formidable, highly competent frigate captain.

    Why wouldn’t Wentworth wear a snazzy uniform, you ask? Because it’s inauthentic, that’s why. Naval and military uniform in Regency Britain was only worn by officers when actually “upon service”. In navy terms that meant, roughly, when aboard ship; when in a naval port; or when in London on naval business. Jane Austen specifically tells us how Fanny Price regrets that when her newly-promoted-to-lieutenant brother visits her at Mansfield Park, she can’t see him in his new uniform – because he’s not allowed to wear it till he gets to Portsmouth. So actually none of the sea officers in Persuasion should wear uniform at any point in a dramatisation, because they are all on leave.

    (And in P&P, while Wickham and the other militia officers should be wearing their uniforms all the time when in Meryton, because they are on service with their regiment there, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is on leave visiting his aunt, certainly should not.)

    • Gray

      But I can see (literally) why a designer might put him in uniform. It helps him stand out in a crowd and connects him with the other good guy navy characters. And separates him from the bad guy civilian characters. It’s a visual thing.

      • Aleko

        Absolutely: it not only makes him look like a hero, it makes it easy to see the naval community!

        A similar inauthenticity-for-the-sake-of-the-visuals is in S&S. The action of the novel (excluding the ‘Reader, she married him’ coda) takes only about fourteen months: as it starts with Mr Dashwood’s death, we wouldn’t actually see Marianne and Elinor wearing anything other than deepest black till they have been in London for some time with Mrs Jennings, and even then they would be in half-mourning for the rest of the action. and we’d never see Mrs Dashwood out of black at all.

    • Popka Superstar

      You can always pretend he has to go do some naval business at some point during his leave, I guess. In my memory he doesn’t wear a uniform the whole time but I don’t know if that’s true.

  3. Gray

    Cosmo slept in his costume.

    I’ve only seen the Ciaran Hines film so….
    It’s my fave film of the Jane Austin craze of the 90s.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      Mine, too. Very well acted and produced, and very Austen–Anne’s relatives aren’t all charm; her sister Mary is hilarious, but you wouldn’t want to be related to her. And watching Anne’s gradual transformation is enchanting; some day she’ll be as outgoing and self-confident as Fiona Shaw’s Mrs. Croft,

  4. mjsamuelson

    I am so torn between Ciaran Hinds and Rupert Penry-Jones! Every time I watch one of them I think, he’s Wentworth. Then I watch the other version and it’s a muddle. But in terms of looking the role the most, I may have to go with Ciaran Hinds. I also vastly prefer Amanda Root as Anne, so that definitely plays into it.

  5. Roxana

    I think Rupert Penry-Jones is the prettiest. Cosmo Jarvisis pretty too but going by his costume and Anne’s this version of Persuasion is going to be a nightmare!

  6. Lynelle

    It will always be Hinds for me. So many swoon-worthy moments with Hinds. Marshall is also rather good but Penry-Jones I find completely meh. And I’m not particularly looking forward to the new one either.

  7. Elaine Raleigh

    I am now, and will always be, a Hindsmaid. The double-whammy of Captain Wentworth and Mr. Rochester in the mid-90s set that firmly as in my hormones as mini-marshmallows are set in lime jello at a Methodist church supper.

    • Lily Lotus Rose

      Oh, Elaine…I just LOVE “as mini-marshmallows are set in lime jello and at Methodist church supper.”

  8. Maureen

    The 1971 and 1995 versions are the only ones I’ve seen so far. Of those two, Hinds is definitely the better Wentworth! Now to track down the 2007 version…

  9. MrsC (Maryanne)

    Hindsmaid here. All the laden looks! And he is in such an iconic version of this film, the first I saw (at the cinema no less) where people looked dressed not costumed, and one had a sense of candle light and real life. Without any mud and pigs!

    • Aleko

      Another thing I liked about his Wentworth was the very slight touch of, not gaucherie – he’s far too subtle an actor for that – but the sense that the drawing rooms and concert venues of Bath are not really his natural habitat; whereas walking with Anne and the Musgroves, and afterwards, sitting with his wet shoes off to let his stockings dry on his feet in front of the fire, he’s totally at home.

  10. Karena333

    Ciarán in everything! I’ve been a devoted Hindsmaid since seeing him as Brian De Bois-Guilbert in Ivanhoe (1997) – of course I love him in Persuasion.
    I’m hoping he wins the Oscar. He certainly deserves it.

  11. Lily Lotus Rose

    CIARAN HINDS!!! Sorry, I can’t help but shout when I see him.

  12. MsNomi

    I’m a Hindsmaid too, but Trystan I have a question referencing the photo of Cosmo Jarvis’ costume. Is “front-fall pants” the correct historical term for them? I have lived in the Amish/Mennonite community my whole life, and they refer to them as “broad-fall trousers”. I was just curious.

    • Aleko

      I’ve always known them, and seen them referred to, as “fall-front” breeches / pantaloons / trousers, as distinct from “fly-front” ones. They come in two types: a “broad fall” has a flap that covers the whole front right to the side seams, and a “small fall” which just covers the centre.

      The male folk costume of many parts of the Czech and Slovak republics includes small-fall breeches with boots, and it’s customary for young men on festive occasions to pull a patterned kerchief through the flap and leave it with the colourful ends dangling out each side. Way to bulk out and draw attention to your assets!

      I’m also unreasonably fond of the fact that the French for fall-front is ‘pont-levis’, which means ‘drawbridge’.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Fun fact: there really isn’t one perfectly “correct” term for any type of clothing, historical or modern. Aside from maybe “pants” or “dress” lol. During any historical period, as today, folks have lots of ways to describe clothing styles & construction techniques. Consider all the ways we currently refer to jeans styles & what they actually describe.

      So for these 18th-c. / early 19th-c. pants, “fall front” & “broad-fall” mean the same thing — there is a flap that “falls” down in the front. As opposed to a “fly” front, which came in later. See also, my recent rant about bad pants in Snark Week:

    • Karena333

      December Bríde is such a touching movie! And he is just beautiful in it. (Early 20thC Irish farming community, so historical, but not worth a costume review.)

  13. Linnet Moss

    “A well-looking man,” said Sir Walter, “a very well-looking man.”

    “A very fine young man indeed!” said Lady Dalrymple. “More air than one often sees in Bath. Irish, I dare say.”

    Never was there a better casting choice for Wentworth than Ciarán Hinds!