What is a summary in simple English of "Jabberwocky?"

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"Jabberwocky" is a nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll, famously appearing in his novel Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The poem is free to read online, and can be found at eNotes in the links below along with a study guide. Here is a brief summary.

As strange and wonderous creatures (slithy toves, borogoves) perform activities at the time of day called "brillig," a father warns his son about the more dangerous beasts in the forest, most importantly the Jabberwocky. The son, unafraid, takes his "Vorpal Sword" and goes to find the Jabberwocky, intending to kill it. After he searches for a long time, he rests by a tree. By coincidence, the Jabberwocky shows up, and the son engages it in battle. With the power of his sword and his will, he kills the Jabberwocky, and takes its head back with him as proof. His father exults and celebrates, and the creatures mentioned in the first stanza repeat their activities, indicating that at least one day has passed (as it is "brillig" again).

The poem has been interpreted variously as a coming-of-age metaphor, a straightforward heroic ballad (as in Beowulf), or simply as a children's poem full of funny words meant only for amusement.


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