Sunday, March 1, 2015

Nursery rhymes are disturbing

So for speech and debate we had to do a nursery rhyme explication.

There was an Old Lady who Lived in a Shoe 

 There was an old lady who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without a bread.
Then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.
My Interpretation

We grow up reading nursery rhymes but have we ever stopped and thought about how gruesome and disturbing some of them are? Take this poem.
    It starts of “there was an old woman.” Now I take old as meaning she looked aged. Maybe she isn’t actually old but she’s had a hard life and her suffering and stresses have caused her to appear “old.”
    Then it says, “she lived in a shoe.” Now we always saw the pictures of her living in an actual shoe, right? When you think about the woman and the hard life she may have faced then you can change the image of a shoe. A shoe is a tight cramped place that holds us in. It doesn’t let us breathe per se. Because of her difficult life she is placed in a situation where she can’t better herself. She is held in one place because of the troubles she faces every day. It is a tight, cramped, worn down home that she now has to live in because she doesn’t make enough money to have the luxury of a nice house.
    “She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.” Because of the woman’s troubles, she turned to men to help her with her problems but she turned to the wrong men. They only wanted sex and when she became pregnant they abandoned her so she was left with too many children for her to handle by herself.
    “She gave them some broth without any bread.” The woman doesn’t make enough money to support herself and the children. She can’t give them much food to eat because there is so little she can buy with the meager amount of money she can earn.
    “She whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.” This is perhaps the most disturbing part of the nursery rhyme. I think that maybe the woman was raised getting spanked or even possibly abused. As we know, abuse is a cycle and is very hard to stop. Because of her difficulties in life, she has no hope and she is not able to end the cycle. She takes her anger at herself and her past out on her children without feeling guilty and then she sends them to bed without a word.
I read this nursery rhyme when I was little and never thought anything of it. I just thought it was a story of a crazy woman who lived in a real shoe (how I ever thought this was possible I will never know. Kids imaginations are wild.) Now I realize how deep this kids poem really is. It describes a situation that is constantly seen in the world today. A situation of poverty, struggle and a never-ending cycle.

Bethany Davies
March 12, 2012

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