Emma

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Riddles and Word Games Symbol Analysis

Riddles and Word Games Symbol Icon
Riddle and word games represent the major theme of misperception, as their hidden meaning leaves much open for interpretation and misinterpretation. Just as Emma constantly reads romance between the lines of various social interactions, riddles and word games serve as disguised messages of romantic intentions. For those like Emma who possess an incomplete knowledge of others’ and their own hearts, however, these puzzles may contribute to, as opposed to clarifying, the confusion. For instance, Emma interprets Mr. Elton’s riddle of “courtship” as intended for Harriet, when it is in fact intended for Emma herself, and Mr. Elton mistakenly interprets Emma’s warm reception of it as encouragement.
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Riddles and Word Games Symbol Timeline in Emma

The timeline below shows where the symbol Riddles and Word Games appears in Emma. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Social Class Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Misperception Theme Icon
Pride and Vanity Theme Icon
...efforts to improve Harriet’s mind with reading make little headway, but the two enjoy collecting riddles in a book. Emma asks Mr. Elton to compose one for them, and Mr. Elton... (full context)
Chapter 43
Social Class Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Misperception Theme Icon
Pride and Vanity Theme Icon
Mr. Weston presents a riddle in praise of Emma, and Mrs. Elton and Mr. Elton huffily excuse themselves from the... (full context)