Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet

by Mother Goose

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Summary of Little Miss Muffet

  • Popularity of the Poem, “Little Miss Muffet”: Mother Goose, a famous imaginary author of French fairy tales and nursery rhymes, wrote this famous nursery rhyme. It was first published in 1805. The poem is about a little girl who is afraid of spiders. There are also a few urban legends based on the rhyme. Similar to most rhymes, it doesn’t have a solid origin. This rhyme is taught to preprimary children in most countries.
  • “Little Miss Muffet”, As a Representative of Fear: Miss Muffet, a young girl, is sitting on a tuffet to enjoy her lovely food. A tuffet could a clump of grass or hay. Suddenly, a spider appears and runs away. Some believe that Thomas Muffet studied insects. He had a lot of spiders in his laboratory for experimentations. The little girl ran away, leaving her food, being terrified of a spider coming from her father’s collection. Some believe that the story refers to Mary, Queen of Scott. She was frightened by the religious reformer, John Knox. However, the first interpretation is widely accepted.
  • Major Themes in “Little Miss Muffet”: Fear and innocence are the major themes of this poem. The girl in the poem represents a carefree childhood. She sits wherever she finds a place to enjoy her delicious food. When a spider appears and steals her joy, she escapes from the scene. There is no in-depth meaning or direct themes in the rhyme. The readers can only understand that sometimes the smallest creatures, spiders can cause fear. A few spiders are known to dangerous and poisonous. Perhaps, that’s why she rushes to save herself from the spider’s bite.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Little Miss Muffet”

Literary devices are tools used by writers and poets to convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. Mother Goose has also used some literary devices in this rhyme. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. For example, “Eating her curds and whey “Who sat down beside her” and “Along came a spider.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /m/ in “Little Miss Muffet”.
  3. Assonance: An assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in “Little Miss Muffet”.
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /n/ in “And frightened Miss Muffet away” and /r/ sound in “Eating her curds and whey.”
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meanings. Spider symbolizes danger.
  6. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues in the next verse. For example,

“Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Little Miss Muffet”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this rhyme.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There is only one six-lined stanza in this poem.
  2. Sestet: A sestet is a six-lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. The poem composed of only one sestet.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme in this poem. For example, “muffet/tuffet”, “whey/away” and “her/spider.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are suitable to be used while teaching phonics to the children. The repetition of consonant and vowel sounds will help them to learn the correct pronunciation. You may even use the rhyme to start storytime.

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.