Jabberwocky Essay

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Witcover's fiction and critical essays appear regularly in magazines and online. In the following essay, he examines the relationship between sense and nonsense in Lewis Carroll's poem, "Jabberwocky."

What is one to make of Carroll's "Jabberwocky"? As Alice herself remarks in Through the Looking-Glass after reading the poem for the first time, "It seems very pretty … but it's rather hard to understand! … Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are!"

Anyone who has read this masterpiece of nonsense verse, which has mystified, amused, and inspired generations of children and adults, can sympathize with Alice's reaction. "Jabberwocky" rarely fails to inspire equal measures of puzzlement, anxiety, and delight in any but the dullest of readers. Indeed, these qualities seem to mutually reinforce each other, so that the less a reader understands exactly what the poem is about, in a...

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This section contains 3,033 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Jabberwocky Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Jabberwocky from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.