There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

 by Mother Goose

Version 1

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread;
And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Version 2

(Below is the most common version of the rhyme used in the pre-primary curriculum)

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth and a big slice of bread.
Then kissed them all soundly and sent them to bed..

Summary of There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

  • Popularity of “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”: This famous nursery rhyme was written by Mother Goose, a famous imaginary author of French fairy tales and many other nursery rhymes. It was first published in Gammer Gurton’s Garland in 1794. This poem details the survival of a family in unfortunate circumstances. In both versions, readers notice that despite having troubles and adverse circumstances, the mother is providing food to her children.
  • “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” As a Representative of Misery: The short rhyme narrates the life of an old woman who lives in a shoe with her children. She struggles to handle them. This short poem speaks a lot about the responsibilities of that old mother. It also highlights her survival in difficult circumstances. In the first version of the rhyme, the mother is frustrated. However, in the second one, the mother is patient and positive in spite of their poverty.
  • Major Themes in “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”: Survival and mother’s love are the major themes of this poem. On the surface, the poem illustrates the struggle of a woman who manages to survive in a small house with her children. She gives them food and looks after them well. On a deeper level, this simple rhyme captures the miserable plight of that lady who is trying her best to overcome the difficult situation of her life. She is concerned for her children’s well-being and does her best even if it makes her lose her patience.

Analysis of the Literary Devices in “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”

Literary devices are the tools used by writers use to convey their messages. They also serve as tools to bring richness and clarity in the texts. Mother Goose has also skilfully used some literary devices to make this rhyme a masterpiece. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe”.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /d/ in “And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed”.
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe” and “She gave them some broth without any bread”.
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. Living in a shoe is a metaphor of poverty or a miserable life.
  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. “Shoe” symbolizes a hut or a small house.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”

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 poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There is only one stanza in this poem that comprises four lines.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. This poem has one quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the AABB rhyme scheme.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “shoe/do” and “bread/bed.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used to describe the situation of a single mother. These could also be used to show a mother’s concern for her children.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread;
And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.”