Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll: Summary and Analysis

Jabberwocky is regarded as one of the greatest English nonsense piece of literary work written by Lewis Carroll. Many portmanteau words, which mean two words are joined to make one, are used by the poet such as vorpal, Jubjub, mimsy, borogoves, tumtum etc.

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

It is considered as nonsense because of the use of meaningless words. This poem was incorporated in his novel, Through the Looking Glass.

At the beginning of the poem, in an afternoon, some strange creatures are making noises. Because of the noises, one father warns his son that there is a creature called ‘Jabberwocky’ with terrible teeth and claws. The father tells the son that the strange creatures live in the dense woods. Others strange animals like ‘jubjub bird’ and ‘bandersnatch’ also reside in the horrible forest. Then the son takes out his sword and set off in search of those strange creatures. After some search, the son finds the creatures and kills it. When returning, he holds the head of Jabberwocky in his hand. The father is happy with his son for his bravery and they celebrate their victory. All the things come back to normal after the killing of Jabberwocky.

The poem is mainly intended for the children so the language is funny, fanciful, lively and easy. These entertaining words and use of language makes the children love this poem. As it contains the story of a brave boy, children can learn a lesson of being brave and face the problems of life the way the boy does in the poem.

Some critics take Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky as a masterpiece for the invention of the new linguistic words. His use of neologisms, nonsense and portmanteau words help his work outstand among many literary works in English literature. Some of his portmanteau words are: "slimy" and "lithe" become "slithy", ‘boiling’ and ‘grilling’ becomes ‘brillig’. The poem is a ballad with ABAB CDCD EFEF rhyme scheme.

Related Topics

The Mad Gardener's Song: Summary and Analysis

Lewis Carroll: Biography