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
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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. After all, what is a Jabberwock, and how, where, and when does it chortle or galumph?

 

How could Carroll create a poem so full of nonsense, so seemingly devoid of meaning, but still sound like proper English? In part, Carroll's unique ability to manipulate diction gives the poem the outward appearance of 19th century sensibility. It looks like a conventional poem. Yet, with a closer examination of the actual words, the poem becomes much more difficult to read, let alone understand. The reader must search out hidden codes that are included within the text. In some cases, words have been combined to make new words. For example, when Carroll uses the word, "frumious" (in "The frumious Bandersnatch"), a word that is not in the Oxford Dictionary, many readers assume the word has no real meaning. When the reader looks more closely, what appears to be nonsense is just words which have been reconstituted. For example, the words fuming and furious are used in this case to create one word. The new meaning is fuming-furiously, but instead of using that dictation, Carroll combines the words to say "frumious." This technique creates words that look realistic but take some investigation to understand.

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