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Diction, Connotation, and Words Convey Meaning in The Jabberwocky

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.

Essay on Search for Identity in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club

Search for Identity in Joy Luck Club

Each person reaches a point in their life when they begin to search for their own, unique identity. In her novel, Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan follows Jing Mei on her search for her Chinese identity – an identity long neglected.

Four Chinese mothers have migrated to America. Each hope for their daughter’s success and pray that they will not experience the hardships faced in China. One mother, Suyuan, imparts her knowledge on her daughter through stories. The American culture influences her daughter, Jing Mei, to such a degree that it is hard for Jing Mei to understand her mother’s culture and life lessons. Yet it is not until Jing Mei realizes that the key to understanding who her mother was and who she is lies in understanding her mother’s life.

Jing Mei spends her American life trying to pull away from her Chinese heritage, and therefore also ends up pulling away from her mother. Jing Mei does not understand the culture and does not feel it is necessary to her life. When she grows up it is not “fashionable” to be called by your Chinese name (Tan 26). She doesn’t use, understand, or remember the Chinese expressions her mother did, claiming she “can never remember things [she] didn’t understand in the first place” (Tan 6). Jing Mei “begs” her mother “to buy [her] a transistor radio”, but her mother refuses when she remembers something from her past, asking her daughter “Why do you think you are missing something you never had?” (Tan 13) Instead of viewing the situation from her mother’s Chinese-influenced side, Jing Mei takes the juvenile American approach and “sulks in silence for an hour” (Tan 13). By ignoring her mom and her mom’s advice, Jing Mei is also ignoring…

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…Jing Mei realizes the part of her that is Chinese is her family. She must embrace the memory of her dead mother to grasp that part of her identity.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Gates, David. Critical Extract. Asian-American Women Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1997. 83-4.

Heung, Marina. “Daughter-Text/Mother-Text: Matrilineage in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.” Feminist Studies (Fall 1993): 597-616.

Huntley, E. D. Amy Tan: A Critical Companion. Westport: Greenwood P, 1998.

Shear, Walter. “Generational differences and the diaspora in The Joy Luck Club.” Women Writers. 34.3 (Spring 1993): 193

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Vintage Contemporaries. New York: A Division of Random House, Inc., 1991..

Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia. Reading Asian American Literature: From Necessity to Extravagance. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993

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