Literature Essay: “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carol
In the “Jabberwocky”, Lewis Carrol helps the audience understand this nonsense poem through structure and figurative language. The poet uses syntax and the four steps of catharsis to do so.
The poem begins one afternoon when the small animals scramble to hide from the strange nonsense creatures. A father tells his son to beware of the “Jabberwocky”, a “Jubjub bird”, and the “Bandersnatch”. The son takes his sword and goes to fight off these creatures. With the help of the syntax the reader can derive meaning from the nonsensical words used in the poem. The poet also uses the four steps of catharsis: confrontation, epiphany, decision, and catharsis. This tool washes away the initial reaction of the reader.
The use of syntax throughout the poem assists the reader in deciphering the meaning behind the whimsical words. The poem begins, “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe…” The word “brillig” is derived from the verb to bryl. In the same way, one can see that “slithy” is compounded of slimy and lithe. “Tove” is a species of badger. The word “gyre” in the poem means to scratch like a dog, “gimble” is to make holes, and “wabe” comes from the verb to soak. From this one can understand that the story starts off at tea time when the small badgers would scratch and make holes in the soaked floor.
In addition, Carroll uses the four steps of catharsis to change the reaction of the reader. In the first step of confrontation the son realizes that the “Jabberwocky” is there. The son then has an epiphany and realizes that he must fight. He makes a decision and is successful with the confrontation. In the last step of catharsis the father welcomes the son back. From the father’s initial warning, the reader originally thought that the son was not capable of fighting the creatures. Once the reader sees the thrill of the father, s/he realizes the son’s capabilities. Through the use of...
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