The plot follows a crew of ten hunting the Snark, an animal which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum.
The crew consists of ten members, whose descriptions all begin with the letter B:
- Bellman, the leader
- Boots, a ghost
- Bonnet, maker of Hoods
- Barrister, who settles arguments
- Broker, to appraise the Goods
- Billiard-marker, who keeps score
- Banker, who possesses the money
- Butcher, who has only one thing in mind
- Beaver, dutifully studious weaver of lace
- Baker, who makes the cake
The hunt begins
The Hunting of the Snark has seen various adaptations into musicals, opera, theatre, plays, and music.
Various themes have been suggested by scholars. According to biographer Florence Becker Lennon, the poem's "motif of loss of name or identity" is typical of Carroll's work.
According to Kelly, The Hunting of the Snark is "Carroll's comic rendition of his fears of disorder and chaos, with the comedy serving as a psychological defense against the devastating idea of personal annihilation." Kelly writes that the Bellman's Rule of Three and starting each character's name with the letter B are "notable attempts to create a sense of order and meaning out of chaos.