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Fairytales and Mother Goose

  1. Aug 22, 2005 #1
    I have a friend of mine who has never read or been exposed to any Mother Goose or Fairytales that many of us have been exposed to and grew up with as children. He was asking me what the meanings of some of the stories were. What the real meanings of these stories were.

    What are some of the meanings of these stories? Why do some of these stories have such violent undertones?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2005 #2


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    Fairy tales were originally folk tales told by the rural poor to their children. These people, especially on the continent, lived hard, dangerous, and unfairly restricted lives, and these facts colored the stories. Why so many wicked stepmothers? Because women often died in childbirth and the father remarried, and the new wife was not disposed to favor the brats of his first wife, when she wanted her own children to inherit the father's meager possessions. Why so many wolves? Because wolves did really prowl through the european forests in the middle ages, and ate children who strayed too far. And so on. And then fantasies about Kings and Princesses with mean fates wished on them from class spite.

    Cinderella is actually a Chinese story, which made its way west over the silk road.
  4. Aug 22, 2005 #3
    Even at my age a Fairy tale, artfully told, will get my full attention. They are great for imagination, and as a child, I recall the moral lessons too, of good and evil. They are a great bit of folk lore tampered with legends and myths.
    If you didn't read them as a child, you should read them as a adult. My favorits are from Russa and India.
    The tales are violent, and some contain some sexual undertones. But these stories were not just for children, but were told to groups, long before the books were made.
    Life then was more harsh, and the books were not so far out of line with there reality.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2005
  5. Aug 22, 2005 #4
    In contrast to Fairy Tales, the 'Mother Goose' rhymes were originally, purportedly political in nature. Elizabeth Goose, from whence 'Mother Goose' got its name (according to the accounts), was simply an English mother who combined French Folk tunes with English Nursery Rhymes, to entertain her infant child.

    In these original short rhymes, people were supposedly able to make statements they didn't dare make directly. Examples:

    Ring around the Rosie - - - - - - rings that form on the skin, blemishes inside
    A pocket full of posies - - - - - - Flowers to mask the odor of death
    Ashes Ashes - - - - - - - - - - - -funeral incantation
    We all fall down - - - - - - - - - - death
    (Purportedly about Bubonic plague)

    Little Jack Horner
    Sat in a corner
    Eating his Blueberry pie
    Stuck in his thumb
    And pulled out a plum
    And said what a good boy am I

    During the reign of Henry VIII, a Catholic Bishop purportedly attempted to make amends with the King, by transferring the deeds to a set of manor houses to the King. These were concealed in a blueberry pie and given to Jack Horner to deliver. When, some time later, Horner came into possession of a Manor House, people simply made some assumptions.

    These are supposedly the motivations behind the rhymes.

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