Humpty Dumpty is a character in an English nursery rhyme, probably originally a riddle and one of the best known in the English-speaking world. Though not explicitly described, he is typically portrayed as an anthropomorphic egg. The first recorded versions of the rhyme date from late eighteenth century England. Its origins are obscure and several theories have been advanced to suggest original meanings.
- 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 together again.
Humpty appears in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872), where he discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice.
- "I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
- Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "
- "But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
- "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
- "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
- "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."
- Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"
It has been suggested by A. J. Larner that Carroll's Humpty Dumpty had prosopagnosia on the basis of his description of his finding faces hard to recognise.
- "The face is what one goes by, generally," Alice remarked in a thoughtful tone.
- "That's just what I complain of," said Humpty Dumpty. "Your face is the same as everybody has—the two eyes,—" (marking their places in the air with his thumb) "nose in the middle, mouth under. It's always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance—or the mouth at the top—that would be some help.
In a later chapter, when Alice sees the White King, he is, along with many other characters in the story, the size of a normal adult. Humpty Dumpty, as a chesspiece, is "taken" (symbolised by his notorious fall from where he sits) and the White King appears with his soldiers, presumably in hopes of putting him back together.
Public Domain Comic Appearances
- Cartoons Magazine vol. 5 #1
- New Funnies #74
- Fawcett's Funny Animals #13
- Santa Claus Funnies #2
- Four Color #41, 59, 68, 103, 126, 140, 172, 185, 201, 220
- Punch and Judy #1