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Analysis of Lewis Caroll's Jabberwocky

by Lori Eldridge

I like this poem because of the exciting drama it invokes and also the rhythum of the words and the sounds they make as they tumble out of your mouth, even though most of them don't make any sense. The fact that the first and last stanza is full of nonsensical words makes it even more appealing to me because I can fill in the blanks myself. I like to write poetry because I can manipulate words and make them say what I want in a different way, sort of like a hidden code language, and this poet does a good job of just that!

When I read this poem I can see little children running around trees in the woods playing tag because of the word "gyre" which is a short form of gyrate. The poem's main character is a boy whose dad has warned him about evil lurking nearby. So the brave little boy stands on guard with his sword watching for the foe, as little boys will do, and all of a sudden there is this terrifying monster coming at him, and he courageously strikes out at him with his sword and kills him dead. Then we have my favorite verse where the father is praising his conquering hero and he gives his son a hug. And then once again the children are safely playing in the woods, and everyone lives happily ever after.

I read this poem a few months ago in a book called "Understanding Poetry" by James Reeves in which he stated that the author explained what some of the words meant. If I go by the authors meaning of the words then at four o'clock in the afternoon we have this slimy, lizard looking creature that twirls round and round and drills holes in the grass under sundials and lives on cheese. Also, there is this flimsy, miserable looking mop/bird thing and a pig that makes a sound something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle. Then this "three headed monster?" called the Jabberwock comes out of the woods, on a puff of wind, making a bubbling sound. The boy kills it dead and then runs back in triumph into the arms of his joyous dad. And then there are more of these weird creatures running around at the end of the poem.

I don't know about you, but I like my interpretation better. You may see something quite different when you read this poem, but that's what makes it so good, it can be enjoyed by all, with a little imagination.

While I was analyzing this poem I realized another reason I like it is because it speaks to me of all the bad things that have happened in my past. The reason I like the verse where the father praises the son is probably because I never had a father who hugged me or praised me for my accomplishments. I had to fight off many monsters in my life all by myself and up till now they have gotten the upper hand, but not anymore! Because now I believe there is a God who cares about what happens to me and I am learning to let Him fight my battles for me with the help of His word, which is sharper than any two edged sword. He helps me climb my mountains; I don't have to do it alone anymore. Therefore, I would like to believe that this poem is all about the monsters in our life and how we can overcome them with God's help.

Lori Eldridge
© Oct 15, 1993


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