Sabrina Fawley
Sabrina Fawley

By Sabrina Fawley 
HCP columnist

We all know about Grimm and Hans Christian fairytales ("The Little Mermaid," "Rapunzel," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White").

The original fairytales are filled with blood, gore and unhappy endings; whereas, Disney's counterparts have a nice red-ribbon ending wrapped around these tales.

One does not have to have look between the lines of Grimm and Christian's tales to find out what is happening in these stories like you may have to do with other writings for children. Behind nursery rhymes, there may be gruesome truths that cannot be seen with a quick read.

(Humpty Dumpty could never be put back together again, but we don't really know why, do we?)

In this rhyme, Humpty Dumpty refers to what some believe was a massive cannon used during the English civil war between Oliver Cromwell's parliamentarian forces and the royalists forces of King Charles.

The royalist cannon was protecting a fort that eventually fell. All the kings men tried to lift the cannon up, but in the process they were slaughtered and couldn't get the cannon to work again.

The rhyme was used as propaganda and was spread to tell news of the king's defeat.

A few centuries later the rhyme was featured in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass." This is where the iconic image of Humpty Dumpty emerged as an egg sitting upon a brick wall.

Another nursery rhyme that has many different interpretations is "Jack and Jill."

One suggestion is that Jack referred to King Louis XVI and Jill referred his Queen Marie Antoinette. The king was beheaded (lost his crown in 1793) and the queen was soon executed (and Jill came tumbling after).

Another interpretation of this rhyme is about a couple would regularly climb the same hill together. One day Jill became pregnant and soon after Jack died from a falling rock that hit him in the head (the rock being from the same hill he would visit regularly with Jill). Jill died later during childbirth. The latter explanation of this rhyme is the more simplistic of the two and based off a local legend in a small village in England.

"Ring Around the Rosy" is a rhyme that may have a false history placed behind it.

The rhyme was first written in the 1800s but dates back further than its written history. Many associate this rhyme with the bubonic plague that fell on Europe or the Great Plague of London in 1665.

Although some believe that ring around the roses refers to a symptom: A red rash. A pocket-full of posies refers to people placing flowers in their pockets to dull the stench of the dying around them and ashes, some say, refer to the sounds made by those who were infected.

Of course, the public didn't grab hold of this interpretation until after World War II, but since then they have run off with it.

If you look beyond the ink – at what you think is innocent, and written only for children, you find a history behind a simple set of words just waiting to pop out. History can be ingrained in the simplest of things.

We may have forgotten the stories that these rhymes address, but we have never forgotten the rhymes, themselves. They will forever live on with their murky history, all hidden underneath simple poems read to children.

Sabrina Fawley is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and a student at Ohio University.