Mr Bennet of the Longbourn estate has five daughters, but his property is entailed, meaning that none of the girls can inherit it. Since his wife had no fortune, it is imperative that one of the girls marries well in order to support the others on his death. However, Jane Austen's opening line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" is a sentence filled with irony and playfulness. The novel revolves around the necessity of marrying for love, not simply for monetary reasons, despite the social pressures to make a good (i.e. wealthy) match.
Pride and Prejudice retains the fascination of modern readers, consistently appearing near the top of lists of "most-loved books" among both literary scholars and the general public. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, with over 20 million copies sold, and paved the way for many archetypes that abound in modern literature. Continuing interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.
Persuasion is linked to Northanger Abbey not only by the fact that the two books were originally bound up in one volume and published together, but also because both stories are set partly in Bath, a fashionable city with which Austen was well acquainted, having lived there from 1801 to 1805.
Besides the theme of persuasion, the novel evokes other topics, such as the Royal Navy, in which two of Jane Austen's brothers ultimately rose to the rank of admiral. As in Northanger Abbey, the superficial social life of Bath—well known to Austen, who spent several relatively unhappy and unproductive years there—is portrayed extensively and serves as a setting for the second half of the book. In many respects, Persuasion marks a break with Austen's previous works, both in the more biting, even irritable satire directed at some of the novel's characters and in the regretful, resigned outlook of its otherwise admirable heroine, Anne Elliot, in the first part of the story. Against this is set the energy and appeal of the Royal Navy, which symbolises for Anne and the reader the possibility of a more outgoing, engaged, and fulfilling life, and it is this worldview which triumphs for the most part at the end of the novel.
this version contains original illustrations