Alice in Wonderland

A College Student's Explication of "Jabberwocky"

At first glance, the poem Jabberwocky - as Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, transcribed in Alice in Wonderland - appears to be pure unintelligible gibberish, a madman's ravings about some unfathomable and inexplicable beast. It rambles about "vorpal blades" and "slithy toves", "frumious Bandersnatches" and things that go "snicker-snack", and not once does it apologize for its fantastical nature. Indeed, a person reading this poem aloud would doubtless be considered unfit for normal, sane society. Yet there is something about the poem "Jabberwocky" that has sparked an infatuation with the nonsensical among the young and the old alike. And why not? Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were, after all, preordained as children's books in the first place, so it should follow then that so too was the "Jabberwocky".

Perhaps even more so than the larger epic engulfing it, this nonsensical poem has seen its influence spread across nations and across centuries. Its absurd nature helped spawn The Beatles' perennial classic "Yellow Submarine," much as the Fab Four's "I am the Walrus" was inspired by Carroll's poem "The...

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