Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;
Dame Jill had the job to plaister his knob,
With vinegar and brown paper.
Jill came in and she did grin
To see his paper plaister,
Mother vex’d did whip her next,
For causing Jack’s disaster.
I think it’s obvious why most of us only heard the first verse of this rhyme when we were kids. Why on earth did Jill have to take care of Jack, and more to the point, why did she get in trouble for what happened to him? I see nothing in the verse that implies Jill caused his disaster. Was she much older than him and supposed to be in charge of his well-being? I don’t know. Either part of the story is missing, or the mother is just a horrible witch who is playing favorites with her children. I’m really starting to think Mother Goose was quite the sexist.
Verdict: Use the paper this rhyme is written on to plaster Jack’s head and then kick him down the well.
It’s widely understood that Aesop’s fables had a lesson to impart to the reader. It’s less commonly known, but no less true, that the original Grimm’s fairy tales contained a lot of violence and sexual content that was inappropriate for children. But what about Mother Goose? Were the colorfully illustrated nursery rhymes in your Little Golden Book really so innocent? Were they carefully curated to be only about silliness and pat-a-cake? Let’s explore the reality together in this year’s Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.