Publication details

"You dream by the book": Shakespeare's Dreams and Dream Interpretation Manuals



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In the latter half of the 20th century, authors such as Rachel G. Giblin (1971) and Steven R. Fischer (1978) pointed out the influence of real-life mediaeval dreams, accessible to modern readers only through mediaeval dream books, upon dream topoi in the literature of the period. The employment of extant dream interpretation manuals has proved to be an indispensable aid in the interpretation of widely used dream episodes in mediaeval heroic and visionary literature, since modern audiences are no longer intimately acquainted with mediaeval tenets. Although the importance of dreams in English Renaissance drama, literature, and culture in general has been well acknowledged (Manfred Weidhorn, 1970; Peter Brown, 1999; Carole Levin, 2008; Hodgkin, O'Callaghan, and Wiseman, 2008), an inquiry into the possible origin of symbolic dreams in Renaissance literature in the contemporary understanding of dreams in the early-modern cultural milieu is yet to be undertaken. This presentation will try to reinterpret some of the most well-known enigmatic dreams in Shakespearian drama, such as Shylock's dream of gold, Lady Eleanor's dream of her coronation, and Hermia's dream of a serpent, in the light of early-modern inquiries into dreams, in an attempt to determine how dream symbols contributed to the atmosphere and dramaturgical design of a number of Shakespeare's plays.
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