This was bugging me when I stumbled on a Ricky Gervais snippet during lunch. I love his attempts to figure out what’s going on with the story (starts at 3:30):
And of course as he tries to figure it out, all the other questions that have come to me over the years have cropped up too.
So, I went to the cyber oracle for answers and got a smattering of different things. (Seriously, google “what was humpty dumpty?” and each blurb says something different.)
Some of the sites I randomly clicked on explained a few theories. Certainly there’s the anthropomorphic egg aspect, popularized by Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, but the rhyme originated well before that. Humpty Dumpty was a brandy type for a time. Might’ve been the name of a cannon at one point.
The Today I Found Out site has a short article on a bunch of these theories.
And as far as the rhyme goes, it was supposedly a riddle that became a story as the words simplified. But is it a complete riddle, with the answer being an egg?
If so, doesn’t make much sense or it needs a better editor.
Still, the questions keep on coming, and not just from Ricky Gervais:
Was it a story or a riddle? Was there a moral?
Who or what was Humpty Dumpty?
How “great” was the fall?
Why would you use horses to put H.D. together again?
How were horses gonna put H.D. together again?
Why all the king’s horses?
Why use all the King’s men? How many men would that mean?
Why did it have to be the King’s men? Why not some farmers down the lane or wherever?
How many king’s horses and king’s men would it take to put H.D. together again (because maybe they didn’t have enough)?
How important was H.D.?
Why would they give a rat’s ass about H.D. and bother to put H.D. back together again in the first place?
Anyhoo–how many questions did you have about this stupid rhyme growing up (or even today, now that I’ve stuck this awful thing in your brain)?