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Symbolism In The Poem "The Walrus And The Carpenter"

1466 words - 6 pages

Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter" could possibly be just a nonsensical rhyme meant purely for entertainment value. The fact that this is a nonsense poem inside a nonsense story makes it all the more difficult to decipher a deeper meaning. Like the author, who had a darker side to him, so too might his work. Carroll made this statement in a letter to an American friend,I'm very much afraid I didn't mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I'm glad to accept as the meaning of the book. (Shaw)This passage almost defines the relationship between the author and what he or she pens. Even though it is a statement regarding "The Hunting of the Snark", he could have said it about any one of his works. Meaning is in the mind of the reader and this is the beauty nonsensical literature. Every reader can interpret a unique hidden behind the words on the page. Many interpretations believe that the poem could be biting remarks at religion and it's followers. The main argument towards that theory is that Jesus Christ was a carpenter by trade and so the carpenter in the poem could represent Christianity. The trouble with this is that Carroll had told the illustrator that he could choose from a carpenter, a butterfly or a baronet, which is a member of the lowest titled social order the English had at the time. Carroll gave the artist these three choices only because any of them would fit the poem's meter. The illustrator wanted to sketch a carpenter and other then this there is no real reason for the career choice of the character. Could "The Walrus and The Carpenter", then be a political satire written to shed light on the atrocities occurring in the political realm at the time? Are the characters are symbolic of Capitalistic politicians and the unquestioning lackeys that follow them? This interpretation is popular and one to be examined in greater depth.Carroll begins the poem with a sun trying with all his might to show light through the darkness. The sun symbolize Carroll himself (De Rooy). The sun shining brightly is Carroll enlightening the reader and showing light on the corruption and faults of the world. The fact that the sun is showing at night is significant of how Carroll view society. They are in darkness and his light is trying to penetrate the night. In the next stanza, the moon is upset by the sun's presence. This is her nighttime and it is very rude of the sun to be hanging around. It is no coincidence that the moon is female. Government in England at the time and to present day is headed by a woman, the Queen. She comments that it goes against his manners to ruin her good time. Surely, the Queen is benefiting from ignorance of her subjects.The two seemingly unrelated characters that make of the title of the poem enter in line 19. The Walrus and the Carpenter...

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