In this, Jane Austen’s final novel, she explores the role of ‘persuasion’ in the lives of women living in regency England. The heroine, Anne Elliot has been persuaded to give up the man she loved because of his lowly social status. Eight years on, her beau returns to Bath, but this time he is victorious from the Napoleonic wars and worth a small fortune. Frederick Wentworth, still bitter at being jilted by Anne, now announces his intention to marry. However, he is quite determined that he will marry anyone but his ex-fiancee.
Persuasion explores the rise of the ‘nouveau riche’ versus ‘old money’ in regency society. It lets us peek into a world where gentlemen are making their fortunes in sugar or tea in the new world, or performing breath-taking acts of valour in the battlefields of the old world. Persuasion explores the regency dilemma – whether it is better to choose a rich and privileged man born to high society? Or to seek out an entrepreneurial man of low pedigree with honourable intentions?
Persuasion is Jane Austen’s last novel, and arguably the most honest, published posthumously in 1818.
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