chapter
Riddles
Motifs H530–H899
ByJane Garry, John Brennan
Pages 5

The presence of riddles in folk narratives often functions as a test of the hero or protagonist. The neck riddle occurs when a protagonist must either propound or expound a riddle or a series of riddles in order to avoid being killed. In Type 927, Out-riddling the Judge, a man is set free when the judge is unable to answer his riddles. Motif H561.1, "Clever peasant girl asked riddles by king," is a component of Type 875, The Clever Peasant Girl, who in some versions answers riddles correctly and wins the king as her husband. One of the best examples of this class is the ballad "Riddles Wisely Expounded". In this ballad a man beds a maiden and when she asks in the morning if they are to wed, he says they will wed only if she can answer his riddles.