Persuasion is a novel about second chances. It was Jane Austen's last work. She wrote it during her illness which led to the end of her life at the young age of 42.
Jane Austen, was perhaps thinking about her own life when she wrote Persuasion, about her missed chances at love and marriage. About the nature of relationships in her society, and how love was secondary if allowed in the decision to marry at all. I think the examination of Austen's society in this book is very thorough and insightful.
Jane Austen reminisces in this book and as always, gives her characters a chance to find each other again, a chance that she did not have herself in her lifetime.
The title of the book is very appropriate. Jane Austen has succeeded in persuading the reader that love in marriage does matter and that life is about second chances. All her books teach the reader, Persuasion, as her last, gives us that happy ending that we so crave, along with Jane, who did not succeed in attaining for herself. But she never disappoints with her characters.
It is not only Anne's experience that relates to the title. Mary is often "persuaded" that she is sick, simply because she is restless and unhappy. William Elliot is "persuaded" that Anne will be happy to marry him because he has good graces and respectability and because he flatters her. Henrietta and Louisa are easily persusaded to believe themselves in love with Captain Wentworth, although they both obviously turn to others. Captain Wentworth is easily persuaded to believe that Anne will marry her cousin.
Austen is using her characters to criticize rash judgements and biases, whether based on our own wrong assumptions or based on the assumptions and too forceful guidance of others. For today's time period, Assumptions would probably prove a better title. However, for the language of the time, Persuasion suits the book quite well.
The title is fitting because the novel traces Anne's regrets and suffering after she is "persuaded" not to marry Wentworth as a young woman. She follows the advice of her mother's dear friend, Lady Russell, and rejects Wentworth's proposal even though they love one another. During this time, class distinctions were a large concern, and, Anne, as a baronet's daughter, is of a much higher class than Wentworth. The novel follows a time eight years after their original break-up; Wentworth has become Capt. Wentworth and distinguished himself in the Napoleonic Wars. He and Anne meet again and fall in love again. The match is much more acceptable to Anne's family and friends at this time because Wentworth has accumulated a large fortune.
Also, what is persuasion exactly? Should we ever try to persuade ourselves or each other? Or just go with our first instinct? Kind of ironic when you compare it to Sense & Sensibility!