Explanation of the Jabberwocky (2nd draft - re-blocked).

I will begin to attack what I wrote last night with extreme gusto.

Keep in mind this is meant to be recited orally, so it is written in such a way. The first step is to read each sentence aloud and attempt to clarify anything that might sound confusing. Secondly I will break up the lines, kind of like a poem, not that this is poetry, but good speech is about rhythm. I want to be able to chew these words up like mashed beans.

Originally I stated that I would explore the examples I've seen in the multiple adaptations I've seen, but I could squeeze those throughout the video itself. I'd like to just leave this text as is, come back some time later and possibly make some adjustments.

(UPDATE: I got tired of scrolling down this lengthy post, so I've re-blocked the sentences into paragraphs).


One must naturally think that any film-maker who dares try to adapt a highly regarded classical work must have at least done their research or hired a research assistant or has sought advice from an expert on the source material. In the case of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll, it is not so inaccessible a story as modern editions have come provided with annotations containing thorough history and information regarding the text, much like reading a play by William Shakespeare. Through-out the century the original story has been celebrated so often it is permissible now-a-day to curse anyone who still believes it was invented by Walt Disney (with extreme prejudice).

I've witnessed many film interpretations of the Alice story and thus it is my understanding that film-makers, while acknowledging the information readily available, by choice continue to make additions and alterations for the purpose of either keeping a fresh perspective or maintaining a unique vision. This is what's called a 'happy accident', whereby a creative discovery is made which happens to enhance the material in such a way like being a great metaphor for the whole piece
(or for the human condition in general). These freak discoveries are mostly not so bad. However, my only other conclusion is that they just did not do their research. The most common scenario I find is the inclusion of the Jabberwocky.

And so to begin, for the uninformed, I will recap the story of the Jabberwocky, with all of my information provided by what I have read within the annotations given through-out 'Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There', plus some common-sense knowledge about dreams.

Alice begins her adventure on a winter day by playing with her cat, Dinah, and her two kittens, Kitty and Snowdrop. She soon falls into a daydream and begins to elaborate an entire world behind the looking-glass. On our side we may see a normal reflection, on the other side, however, is when everything becomes totally different.

It is safe to say Alice has by now fallen asleep and begun dreaming, for in her discourse she has ended up on top of the chimney-piece and has advanced through to the other side. In the real world this is impossible because a mirror is simply
reflective glass that bounces light exactly in the opposite direction. In dream logic, mirrors work differently. A dream is designed to make you always think you're not really dreaming. Since light does not exist in dreams, the other side of a mirror is really another room generating a reverse facsimile of every object that is on your side! It is a trick!

Continuing, Alice arrives on the other side of the Looking Glass and witnesses the events of some of the chess-pieces come to life for a while before she discovers a book lying on a table next to her. At first, she believes it's all written in some foreign language she cannot read, but happens upon a page containing words she can recognise however the text is printed in reverse. She realises this is a Looking Glass book and must hold it up to the glass to make the words appear the right way,
and suddenly the entire poem reveals itself. It is a poem entitled 'JABBERWOCKY'.

Notice when you first see the poem printed in reverse that you are only given the first stanza (and title). According to a letter that Lewis Carrol wrote to his publisher in January 1868, he may have implied that he wanted the entire poem to be printed in reverse. His publisher responded that it was definitely possible but would cost 'a great deal'. The result of showing only the first stanza may have inadvertently worked better for the story as written text in dreams tend to become muddled and constantly changing. One could interpret that Alice, holding the book up to the glass, was actually reading and re-reading the one stanza over and over as the words kept changing and including a vocabulary of gibberish nonsense.

In actual study of the poem, we unfold a story about a boy who slays a kind of a beast called the 'Jabberwock' and triumphantly returns home carrying its head. There is also a brief mention of the 'Jub Jub Bird' and the 'Bandersnatch', however they remain without description.

The story conflicts with the provided illustration by John Tenniel who has clearly represented a young girl (resembling Alice from behind) swinging her sword against the Jabberwock. It must be here that stems the confusion--or intentional misinterpretation--within the many adaptations of this story. But the truth is simple.

Lewis Carroll originally intended this image as the frontispiece for 'Through The Looking-Glass' but upon receiving suggestions that it is (quote) 'too terrible a monster, and likely to alarm nervous and imaginative children', he succumbed and submitted the image to its rightful place next to the poem, replacing the frontispiece with a much more serene illustration of Alice and the White Knight. Obviously it would have been much too bothersome, even to think about, changing the Alice-resemblance to a boy as the original poem describes. So it has been left as is, giving way to new interpretations and restructuring of sub-plots
for the chance to add the Jabberwocky as a new character (always a villain), after all it does make a great metaphor for the human condition.

I have gotten rid of the (horrible) first draft, but in case you want to read it for comparison I have re-posted it in the comments.