Essay on The History of Nursery Rhymes

Essay on The History of Nursery Rhymes

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The unexpected and unpredictable ways that nursery rhymes came about, from devastating diseases, discrimination, rise and falls of royalty, to civil wars makes for a remarkable story. There was no telling how they were to originate or how long they would last, but nursery rhymes have withstood the test of time, not only because of their seemingly fun and catchy tunes, but because they contain key lessons that modern day children must learn, as well as portray events that occurred over the course of history.
Beginning under Henry VIII, the Anglican Church and remaining through to the Victorian era was a time of great religious discrimination. In England this era peeked during the 15th and 16th century. This intolerance even manifested in the nighttime tales recited to children before they went to bed. Goosey Goosey Gander channeled the great anti-Catholicism present in England, as it showcased a Catholic priest hidden away in a secret chamber within homes, avoiding their most certain death upon discovery. The royals of England were so enraged with people and their attempt to hide the priests that everyone in the house would be sentenced to death, not only the priest. One implication of the rhyme being a reference to those of the Catholic faith is due to the mention of not saying his prayers, as typically they were spoken in Latin.
During the 15th century in England Humpty Dumpty was a common nickname used to describe larger people. This may have assisted Lewis Carroll while illustrating the picture to assist the rhyme Humpty Dumpty in his book Alice Through the Looking Glass which was published in 1810, there features a round egg sitting on a wall. There was a civil war in the year of 1648 in the town of Colchester. Colchester...


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..., and then loved her very well” (Source). Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater is another dark tale which is candy-coated in order to hide the depraved behavior it presents. By taking a psychoanalytical view of the rhyme it is obvious the Peter’s treatment of his first wife exemplifies fear of and a desire to control women, as explained by Lucy Rollin in Cradle and All: a Cultural and Analytical Study of Nursery Rhymes. During the Victorian era keep would be used in a sense of providing for his wife, nut the image of his wife in an enclosed shell certainly implies keep in a more sinister and modern tone. There lies a hidden lesson in verse two of the rhyme, the association of marriage and learning how to spell might have a strong unconscious appeal for the child by repressing their unsatisfied curiosity about sexual matters in favor of the knowledge that adults offer instead.

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