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Nursery Rhymes

Posted by R. Berg on March 20, 2001

In Reply to: Nursery Rhymes posted by Cybill Freud on March 20, 2001

: : Is it true that:

: : Little Red Riding Hood is about a girl who goes through puberty and then loses her virginity?>>>

: According to Bruno Bettelheim it is, but of course fairy tales are meant to be viewed subjectively, each tale having special meaning to the individual. According to Bettelheim in his book "The Uses of Enchantment":

: "Red is the color symbolizing violent emotions, very much including sexual ones. The red velvet cap given by Grandmother to Little Red Cap thus can be viewed as a symbol of a premature transfer of sexual attractiveness...Little Red Cap's danger is her budding sexuality, for which she is not yet emotionally mature enough...premature sexuality is a regressive experience, arousing all that is primitive in us and threatens to swallow us up."

: : Ring around the roses, pocketfull of posies, atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down is about the bubonic plague in mediaeval Europe?>>>

: According to, it's not. See

: : Rock a By Baby on the Tree Top is about a serial killer?>>>

: I've never heard of that, sorry.

: : Jack and Jill is about a boy and girl who are having sex and they fall down a hill thinking they were on a bed?>>>

: Never heard of that, either. Honestly, where do you get these ideas? ;)

: : London Bridge is Falling Down is really about the London Bridge actually falling and sinking?>>>

: It could be. See

Ms. Freud, FYI, the rhyme you haven't heard of goes like this (roughly; I'm relying on memory):

Rock-a-bye, baby, in the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

A member of my family once said, when in an unusually intuitive (altered) state of consciousness, that the deeper message in "Little Red Riding Hood" concerns an incest fantasy. But I've never been able to match up the elements in the story with the structure of incest fantasies so as quite to understand that. Some other tales of Grimm's are more transparent.