Alice originally comes across the poem when she realizes she’s entered the world on the other side of the looking glass. She holds a mirror up to the poem and reads it, but it does not make total sense to her. The original first stanza was published by Carroll in 1855 as “Stanza of Anglo Saxon Poetry”. From this first stanza, he incorporated the story of the slaying of the evil Jabberwock, and the son who triumphantly returns home to his father. While many believe that Carroll was inspired by local Sunderland legend of the Lambton Worm, the poem really highlights the themes of good versus evil, and the desire for parental approval.
The first and last stanzas are seemingly in gibberish, but many scholars agree that the stanzas provide a setting in the woods in the evening, with various animals moving and making noise. The second stanza begins with a father warning his son of a monster with sharp teeth and claws called the Jabberwock; he also warns him of the Jubjub bird and the Bandersnatch. The son takes up his sword and seeks out the monsters. He rests by the Tumtum tree when suddenly the Jabberwock appears. The son cuts down the Jabberwock and takes his head back to his father, where his father receives him into his arms with joy at the boy’s triumph.