Diction, Connotation, and Words Convey Meaning in The Jabberwocky

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Diction, Connotation, and Portmanteaus Words Convey Meaning in The Jabberwocky

Lewis Carroll's poem "The Jabberwocky," means something different to each of its readers. Lewis's use of diction, connotation, and portmanteaus words help the reader build their own personal understanding and meaning of the poem.

'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 arm, 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 "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!" was Alice's reaction (of Alice in Wonderland) after reading Lewis Carroll's poem "The Jabberwocky." Alice's response to this poem was not an uncommon one; there are very few ...

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...For example, "slithy" means both lithe and slimy; "mimsy" means both flimsy and miserable. There are enough of these multiple meaning expressions to create a type of word labyrinth.

Some say there is only one correct meaning to a poem. However, before one makes this claim, they must understand the word "meaning." Edgar Roberts and Henry Jacobs, authors of Literature, An Introduction to Reading and Writing, define meaning as: "The combination of a poem's theme, its emotional impact, and the experience it creates for the reader." This clashes with the theory that says a poem has a single correct meaning. Each person has a unique personality which will result in varying perspectives. Lewis Carroll may have intended his poem to be interpreted one way, but the poem impacts each of us differently based on our emotional and intellectual makeup.
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