Jane Austen Questions and Answers

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What would the Style be for Jane Austen's poem, "I've a Pain in my Head?" I'm having difficulty with the whole concept of style, and when I was assigned this problem, I was very confused! Please help me understand style and it's place in this poem.

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Style refers to the way in which the poem is written, the techniques the author uses in the poem, and how the way it's written affects the meaning of the poem (at the theme or content level). This poem is a short narrative work because it tells a short story—or, in this case, it is more like an anecdote. "I've a Pain In My Head" relates a brief interaction between a doctor and a patient complaining of a headache. The poem then consists of exchanged dialogue between the two to show their interaction.

The style is also rather light-hearted, especially for a work that is about pain. This is created by the rhyme scheme, repetition, and brevity. Take, for example, the first stanza:

'I've a pain in my head'
Said the suffering Beckford;
To her Doctor so dread.
'Oh! what shall I take for't?'
The simple rhymes of "head" and "dread," and "Beckford" and "for't" create a sing-song-like rhythm that makes the poem seem rather innocent. The use of colloquialism in the contracted words "for't" (for it) adds a bit of country charm and shows the casual nature of the patient-doctor relationship. At the same time, the relationship is marked by the propriety and manners of the time, since he calls her "Ma'am" and they have a pleasant, respectful tone toward one another.

These style choices continue throughout the poem, as Austen again uses simple rhyme, like "notion" and "potion" to relate the short interaction between the woman and her doctor.

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When you're trying to describe the style of a poem, imagine how you would describe it if it were a person. The style of Jane Austen's poem "I've a Pain in my Head" is very similar to her prose style: satiric and sly. It is a narrative poem, which means it tells a story. Actually, the story could be considered a joke as well. A "suffering" lady named Beckford asks her doctor, the "dread" Newnham, what to take for a headache. His reply? "Ah, what can you do Ma'am?" Not much of a doctor, right? Beckford comes up with her own solution, and the doctor is in such agreement, he decides he needs the same medicine. This is funny in two ways. First, it satirizes the medical profession, which must have been very unhelpful in Austen's time. Second, it makes fun of hypochondriacs, who probably do give their doctors headaches.

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