By Rohith Nathan
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again
In my interpretation Humpty Dumpty will represent society. This article is a sociological interpretation or perspective (Mostly Marxist) of the famous children’s rhyme Humpty Dumpty.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall”
This looks to me that society (Humpty Dumpty) was not a higher plane and it evolved or something pushed it to go up and sit on the ‘wall’. This wall is the pinnacle of capitalism that Karl Marx talks about, it was lead to that point by the evolution in the modes of production from a primitive agrarian society which is seen as an egalitarian set up to a capitalistic free market economy. This line symbolises the flow of society and its movement to what society views as ‘ideal’, the perception that Humpty Dumpty had was that going up the wall of capitalism was good for him was miscalculated because he didn’t realise that his shape and physical condition was not suited to sit on a narrow high wall. Capitalism was seen as a panacea of all evils that people were facing without analysing what is good for the people. The ego of Humpty Dumpty which didn’t allow him to see himself and accept his true nature led to his downfall.
“Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”
As Marx mentioned. An egalitarian society cannot be reached without going through capitalism. The pinnacle of capitalism, vulgar capitalism will be so exploitative that it will rock the stability of society as it tries to balance the different variables to keep it in balance at the high point where the ego (capitalists) is satisfied. Being on the high wall, only Humpty Dumpty’s ego was satisfied. That ego boost didn’t allow him to keep his balance because he was probably drunk on power. There is no mention of any disturbance to make Humpty Dumpty fall, thus I would like to say that his very nature of existance was not suited to be put up on the wall of capitalism. His greed to satisfy his material (ego) need and the greed to ‘feel’ on top put him in an uncomfortable position in a place he should have never ventured out to reach anyway.
His very egg shaped nature lead to his fall and this is paralleled to the fall of capitalism through a revolution of the masses. The instability and inequality that capitalism creates out of exploitative means that took it up will be the reason for its downfall. Once Humpty Dumpty falls, his fragile outer shell breaks into several pieces and this is how society will be after the revolution and overthrowing of the capitalist ego and the notion of greed that brought it down to such a sorry state.
“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men”
This line depicts the different agents of capitalism that allowed humpty dumpty to go up the wall. The propagators of capitalism that incited Humpty Dumpty to go up the wall for their own vicarious pleasure. If they were not supportive of him climbing the wall they would not have allowed him to do so in the first place. Because as soon as he fell, they assembled around him. So it means they were watching him climb the wall all along and in fact knew that he was unstable but still made him go up the wall expecting him to somehow magically remain steady there. For them it all seemed to be like a dream.
“Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again”
The king’s horses and the king’s men were supposed to be the guardians of Humpty Dumpty otherwise they would not be worried if he fell or broke into a thousand pieces. The agents of capitalism who more or less control society (at least economically) were supposed to safeguard society from total chaos and destruction. But they did not bother. The loss of Humpty Dumpty was their own loss because they depended on him and it was their duty to keep him safe.
The destruction of Humpty Dumpty as they knew him led to a feeling of alienation or anomie and it was furthered by the division of labour that they were entrusted with while trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. No matter how much they tried, the alienation they faced because of the loss of society and the division of labour among them couldn’t let them even pick up the pieces of society back again and they could never put it back together as they knew it.
This is what will happen to society if we let it climb up the wall and reach the pinnacle of capitalism. It will lead to the disintegration of society as we know it. Though the rhyme is a simple tool to teach children and interact with them while enhancing their vocabulary the Marxist undertones were too much to be ignored by me.