A great English writer of the early 1800's, Jane Austen wrote many great novels we still discuss to this day. The thing that she is most well-known for is her critique of women's status in her time and their need to get married. The novels she is most well-known for are 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Mansfield Park', and 'Sense and Sensibility'. This variety of novels made her very successful during her time and she is still studied in classrooms everywhere. Although most people know her for her books she also had a very strong collection of poetry. A lot of her poetry came in the form of charades. Even though we now think of charades as being a game in which you act out clues for people to guess, they used to also have the meaning of a riddle that describes the answer syllable by syllable. These riddles are especially fun because you have several tasks. First you must figure out each separate syllable then you have to fit them together to create a single term. |
Most of Austen's writings are heavily influenced by her feelings about feminism. It may not always be apparent how these riddles/charades and feminism are related, but most of the charades she wrote deal with gender in some fashion. In some of these charades it is obvious that she is making some sort of point about gender and the two genders relations to each other, but it isn't always clear how. Her charades can stand alone with their meaning, even though they do have solutions. These riddles and their final solution are entertaining and fun, but their separate parts say a lot about language and society. By breaking these words down into syllables they are given meaning past their dictionary definitions. In this way the words no longer have only their definition but they are also derivative of their parts. The individual parts have meaning to the entire word or phrase.
One of these great riddles written by the great Jane Austen goes as follows:
"My first doth affliction denote Which my second is destin'd to feel. And my whole is the best antidote That affliction to soften and heal."
The answer to this riddle is woe-man, or woman. This riddle is entertaining and fun to solve, but it also has some social implications as well. By breaking down the word woman into the separate words woe and man, it implies that women are like men with great sorrow and distress. This could be construed as meaning that women are responsible for all of the woes of the world and for combating them, while men are without these sorrows.
Jane Austen was an amazing author in her time and is still very appreciated and read today for her great literature and all she did for women's rights. Even though the world has changed a lot since her life, her literature is still very relevant and powerful.
For some great riddles from Jane Austen and more visit Good Riddles Now's riddles for kids section.
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