Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
- Now we're in a different place altogether, a place with humans talking.
- This transition would be refreshing if it weren't for the fact that the first word of human speech is beware. That's warning that something bad might happen.
- Also, we can tell from the "my son" bit that this is a parent talking. What are we supposed to beware? The Jabberwock, of course, the title...thing…of the poem. We have no idea what a Jabberwock is at this point, but if we're to beware of it, we can be pretty sure that it's not a fluffy bunny.
- And we're right – in the next line, the parent warns the son of biting jaws and grabbing claws.
- So this thing is pointy, no doubt about it. Maybe a dragon-like creature? Or a horrible wolf-like thing? The parent obviously knows what it is, but we don't.
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
- Oh no, more awful things.
- Unfortunately, no one in Through the Looking-Glass has anything more to say about this poem, so we're entirely on our own for both the Jubjub bird and his friend, the Bandersnatch.
- Like we said before, deciding what these creatures are, what they look like and how they behave is part of the fun.
- The Jubjub bird could be anything. Anything you're most scared of. Hawks? Giant, angry ostrich? Spooky owl? All are possible.
- Same with the Bandersnatch. Sounds a little like badger, but if we go with Humpty Dumpty, toves are also a little like badgers. Maybe these are bigger and fiercer than the average badger.
- And frumious sounds like a combination of fuming (i.e., "smoking" or "angry") and furious. Clearly, these are creatures not to be trifled with, which is probably why the parent is taking great pains to warn the child.