“The dream-thoughts are immediately comprehensible, as soon as we have learnt them. The dream-content, on the other hand, is expressed as it were in a pictographic script, the characters of which have to be transposed individually into the language of the dream-thoughts” (819).
One fundamentally challenging things about dreams, that in a way echoes the slippery duality of the social contract though even more so, is that dreams only appear to an individual, and while descriptions and interpretations may follow, it can never truly be recounted or recreated. In some cases, I personally have had dreams so unlike reality I literally did not have the vocabulary or concept to begin to describe what my brain had produced – I had to liken it to existing elements of our society and our generally understood concepts, yet that did a tremendous disservice to the dream itself.
In this vein, I find Freud’s determination to decode and interpret dreams inherently problematic, as many defy description. He acknowledges the possibility for multiple meanings, yet he does not allow for dreams that cannot be described. He functions under the preconception that, while a dream may make little sense, it can be recounted and conveyed in a way that matches ideas, objects, and experiences that others can – at the very least – try to understand. The fleeting nature of dreams – both in time and in singular occurrences – also strikes me as problematic within Freud’s context.
In applying Freud’s methods to literature, I find it both compelling and problematic. To an extent, dream analysis arguably resonates, however gently, with the author and the characters. Using dreams to better understand the psyche can contribute to a fuller idea of what the individual has experienced, or the experiences that have influenced them. Yet, I also feel ascribing certain elements to dream moments may act as an imposition, and reiterating what was aforementioned, if dreams may be indescribable to living, breathing, communicating people – then what can truly be uncovered through the dreams of a fictional character?
However, I do find Freud’s endeavors intriguing, and while I cannot say I personally subscribe entirely to his assertion, I do feel that attempting to analyze dreams does provide some insight – perhaps even a small window- into the mind, and while it can never truly be uncovered or revealed, The Interpretation of Dreams does serve as a highly interesting perspective into dream analysis.