Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Eighteenth-Century Europe, predominantly France, England, and Holland

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is narrated in the first person by Roxana. She is retrospectively looking back at events from her past and describing them from the point of view of someone later in life, who has seen how the consequences of her actions has played out. Readers eventually learn that Roxana is looking back from the position of someone who has lost everything, and therefore has a regretful point of view.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the novel is often cautionary, regretful, and uneasy. Roxana sees many events from her past as having been the stepping stones toward her moral ruin. The mood is often guarded, suspicious, and acquisitive; Roxana focuses on the details of her ability to acquire money and wealth, and displays that wealth to readers.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Roxana is the protagonist; her husband, the Brewer, and later her daughter Susan, function as antagonists in the novel.

Major Conflict

The major conflict revolves around Roxana's efforts to acquire and build wealth while also concealing her identity and history. The two desires are intertwined because Roxana can only live as a wealthy and independent woman so long as her true identity is not revealed. If it was known that she was married to the Brewer, he could potentially claim her fortune; if it is revealed that she was never married to the Landlord/Jeweller, much of the wealth she acquired from that relationship would be forfeited.


The climax occurs when Roxana learns that Susan has vanished, and realizes that Amy likely murdered her.


Roxana's emigration to England as a child foreshadows later occurrences where she will have to flee from various countries, and her inability to find a truly safe and secure home for herself. The Brewer's disappearance and abandonment of her and their children foreshadows how other men will also abruptly disappear from her life (the Jeweller because he dies, and the Prince because he decides to reunite with his wife), leaving her to depend only on herself and Amy. Amy's suggestion that Roxana begin sleeping with the Landlord/Jeweller foreshadows Amy's later suggestion that they murder Susan to conceal their identities.






See Imagery section





Metonymy and Synecdoche