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by Lewis Carroll

Jabberwocky Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What can a poem like "Jabberwocky" tell us about the nature of good and evil. According to the poem, how should we construct our notions of good and evil? Is this a black and white issue?
  2. What do you think is achieved in "Jabberwocky" through the use of nonsense language? How does the poem play with the English language, and to what effect? Why is it not told in regular English? What might the purpose of this be – to persuade the reader of something? To create a world? How are worlds created through language?
  3. How does this poem work on both a children's level and on a more sophisticated, adult level? Can you point to themes or sections where meaning could be constructed either simply (for children) or made much more complex (for adults)?
  4. What is the role of imagination in "Jabberwocky"? Do you think that the poem is best if it is allowed to be different for every reader, or ought we try as students to figure out exactly and definitively what a mome rath is? How do the workings of individual imaginations both help and hinder a broader understanding of the poem?
  5. Why is the hero of the poem – the ultimate good guy who slays the Jabberwock –anonymous? Consider that we have no idea who this young man is. What kind of effect does that have on the poem itself? How about concepts of stereotype and archetype? What might the anonymous hero represent through his anonymity?

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