Jabberwocky Essay

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In his poem “Jabberwocky”, Lewis Carroll uses many poetic devices that weave together an epic battle with the Jabberwock. Carroll uses nonsense words that seem to have no meaning on the first reading, to make sense of these nonsense words this poem needs to be read out loud. This use of onomatopoeia is used to evoke not only a feeling of being somewhere odd and strange but also what that place might sound like. The words have then been chosen not so much for their meaning but for the sounds they make when the poem is read. One of the best examples of these sounds is during the fight between the hero and the Jabberwock “The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!” (18). This word snicker-snack seems to evoke the sound of a sword being swung swiftly through the air. Another example of these sounds is in the Jabberwocks approach to the hero “Came whiffling through the tulgey wood / And burbled as it came!” (lines 15-16). There is no mention that this beast is flying or has wings but in the word whiffling sounds like wings beating against the air as it lands. The Jabberwock’s sound is also in the word burbled, which seems to suggest a sound like a large bird might make. Carroll also takes two words that would make sense and makes one nonsense word out of them to create a whole new meaning. This literary device called portmanteau is used in the very first line of this poem “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves” (1). The word slithy seems to be a combination of the word lithe and slimy. Even tough it is hard to make out the meaning of the word toves, it can be assumed they are something that is moving and writhing. Another use of this is near the end of the poem when the jabberwock has been vanquished and the hero returns home “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” (23). The use of the word frabjous seems to be a combination of the words fabulous and joyous. Using words in this way
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