Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

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Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” published in 1871, is in essence, a bunch of nonsense words strung together in verse. However, a closer look shows that it is about a person facing inner difficulties and fears. It is a tale of conquest, and how good always wins in the end, even when we are taking things very seriously all the time.

Jabberwocky

BY LEWIS CARROLL

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

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’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Analysis of Carrol’s “Jabberwocky”

Lewis Carroll published the entire text of “Jabberwocky” in 1871 in his book “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.” Carroll’s works are popular with both children and adults – and for good reason. Children are entertained by the whimsical and fantastical elements, while adults can enjoy the layers of complexity that emerge as they read his works. Carroll’s vocabulary puts us in a world that is very different from our own.

The two major themes in “Jabberwocky” are perseverance and good versus evil. The poem can be viewed as an epic since it is a tale of conquest.  Keeping the poem’s epic scope in mind, our protagonist must persevere. His journey is no cakewalk. It seems like he thinks he has to prove himself by how he ignores warnings his father gives him and still goes ahead and searches for the monster to defeat it. He wants to find the Jabberwocky to kill it with his sword.  In the end, his determination is shown to pay off as he is rewarded with a beautiful homecoming.

Furthermore, when the good man, our protagonist, and the evil beast, the Jabberwocky, finally face each other in this narrative, violence begins. The poem pits an individual against a legendary beast. This means that since the Jabberwocky is nonexistent in the real world, it could be said to be a metaphor for evil. We could have come to the same conclusions if it was one man against another, but a lone man vanquishing a beast like the Jabberwocky holds more surprise, greater magnitude, and deeper meaning in itself.

The poem not just teaches us that everyone can do amazing things, but also that things like having the courage to speak up for what you believe in, speaking the truth, and standing up for someone who deserves it is what counts.

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