Jabberwocky

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.

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

Summary of the Poem, “Jabberwocky”

  • Popularity of the Poem, “Jabberwocky”: This poem was written by Lewis Carroll, one of the greatest English writers. ‘Jabberwocky’ is one of the greatest literary pieces and also known as a nonsensical poem.  It first appeared in 1871 in the novel Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The poem comprises the bravery of a young boy who faces an evil dragon-like creature and wins the battle. The poem grabs attention due to the creative invention of new words and phrases.
  • “Jabberwocky” As a Representative of Courage: The poem presents parental love and courage of a young boy. The poem starts when the father of the boy hears some strange noises, and he warns his son about the strange creatures that live in a dense wood along with other strange creatures. The son, in response, takes out his sword and sets off in search of those dangerous creatures. After some search, he not only finds them but also fights them. He returns with the head of Jabberwocky in his hand. On seeing this, the father praises his son and celebrates his victory. Thus, their lives get back to a normal pace. However, what enchants the reader is the strength of the boy who courageously faces evil by leaving his fears behind.
  • Major Themes in “Jabberwocky”: Courage, love, and good versus evil are the major themes of the poem. The poem revolves around the heroic victory of the boy who risks his life to kill Jabberwocky. Although his father warns him about the evil creature, the boy musters up the courage to eradicate evil from the world.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Jabberwocky”

Literary devices are tools used to make the texts understandable for the readers. They also allow the readers to interpret the text in multiple ways. Lewis Carroll has also employed some literary devices in this poem to express his ideas. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /aw/ and /a/ in “The jaws that bite, the claws that catch” and the sound of /o/ in “One, two! One, two! And through and through.”
  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a verse or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, moves over the next line. For example,

“So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.”

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /m/ in “Come to my arms, my beamish boy” and the sound of /l/ in “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /t/ in “So rested he by the Tumtum tree” and the sound of /h/ in “Came whiffling through the tulgey wood.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “The jaws that bite, the claws that catch”; “Came whiffling through the tulgey wood” and “Came whiffling through the tulgey wood.”
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meanings. ‘Vorpal sword’ symbolizes power and strength, ‘Jabberwocky’ is a symbol of evil, and ‘Jubjub bird’ is a symbol of fear.

 Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Jabberwocky”

Poetic Devices refer to those techniques a poet uses to bring uniqueness in his text. The analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem is given below.

  1. Ballad: Ballad is a type of poem used for recitation or singing. This poem is written in the form of ballad meter and it describes the story of a brave boy.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are seven stanzas in this poem, with four lines each stanza.
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is quatrain.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues throughout the poem.
  5. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, ‘Sought/thought’, ‘flame/came’, ‘stood/wood’ and ‘snack/back’.
  6. Refrain: The lines that are repeated at some distance in the poems are called refrain. The first stanza is repeated with the same words at the end of the poem. Hence, it has become a refrain.

Quotes to be Used

There are no specific lines that can be used as a quote from this poem. However, the poem can be used in humor, to learn phonic sounds or to invent new phrases and words for fun.

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