Nonsense Is Defined by Its Inability to be Defined Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear's Alice in Wonderland

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The definition of nonsense has been debated throughout literature. Yet nonsense itself cannot be defined, but rather it is defined by its inability to be defined. It’s the destruction or defiance of the norm that often leads to creation of nonsense. The language of nonsense itself is closely intertwined with various techniques of style, structuralization and various motifs. Authors such as Lewis Caroll in Alice and Wonderland and Edward Lear’s The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear use such techniques to invoke the language of nonsense as well as to create nonsense within their writing. Both Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear use the language of nonsense is also defined by paradoxes, the play on stereotypes, and the usage of polysemy. Lewis…show more content…
In such a structure, Lear creates a paradox in that he uses various stereotypes of each individual that he chooses and breaks and defies that stereotype. In the creation of such limericks, Lear is specific in choosing adjectives; he uses places such as ‘Portugal’, ‘Madras’, etc. In such places there is an assumption of a stereotype of the individuals from those places, yet instead of creating that stereotype he creates nonsensical actions for those individuals. Both Carroll and Lear use polysemy throughout their nonsense. Polysemy can be defined as words or phrases having multiple meanings. Carroll uses polysemy in the fact that the creatures often take specific words for face value. For instance, the word mad has multiple meanings, it can either mean angry or crazed. Carroll is very careful to create ‘the mad hatter’ and the ‘as mad as a March hare’ as the same individual (Carroll). Yet it is in this matter that also fuels the nonsensical element has the ‘mad hatter’ becomes a paradox. Lear uses polysemy as well throughout his limericks. For instance, “There was an Old Person of Leeds/Whose head was infested with beads…”(Lear, 12). The word ‘beads’ could refer to the things that jewelry is made of or a reference to ones sanity (i.e. often called marbles in today’s society). Such a play on words allow for the
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