Analysis of Jabberwocky 256 words

“Jabberwocky” is a truly unique poem in the sense that the author uses made up words to form a complex meaning. One might be most familiar seeing made up words in the vocabulary of a child not an accomplished writer’s works. On the surface one might deduce that it is about a boy slaying something called a Jabberwocky, but when you look deeper you will find that the Jabberwocky is also language itself. At the same time the boy is fighting the Jabberwocky the reader is fighting these unfamiliar words. This poem is about fear of the unknown and learning how to conquer these fears. Like the boy confronts the Jabberwocky we must confront the unknown language. In Nancy Goldfarb’s essay on this poem it is suggested that while the boy is lost fighting in the dark words the reader is fighting to understand this strange vocabulary. She also suggests that many of these made up words are an attempt at combining words with slithy meaning lithe and slimy. This sounds logical due to the context of many of these supposedly combined words. For example in line 20 “He went galumphing back” which appears to me he was galloping triumphantly. Also the tone also changes quite significantly at the end of the poem. At the beginning the setting seems to be dark and foreboding as the boy’s father warns him about the Jabberwocky, however after he slays it his father is cheering and the once scary slithy toves and borogoves do not seem so frightening anymore.


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