Term Paper: Dreams in Sigmund Freud

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[. . .] .. The unconscious is the true reality of the psyche, its inner nature just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world..." (405). Referring to the externality of the unconscious, Freud's discourse illustrates how the Unconscious as an external force that resides 'within' the individual. In effect, Freud illustrates how through dream experiences, the Unconscious is confronted by the individual. Thus, the individual, through his/her dreams, bridges the gap and resolves the conflict between the Conscious and the Unconscious selves of the individual. It is then posited that after an analysis of a dream experience, people become more 'in touch' with themselves, the true nature of the Self, and not the "impersonal one."

This episode is what exactly had happened in Kafka's literary work, The Metamorphosis. This long short story by Kafka chronicles the life of Gregor Samsa, a sales agent who discovered one day that he had been morphed from being human to being an insect. Although the short story borders on the theme of absurdity, Kafka's treatment and portrayal of his characters in the story illustrate how the theme of the dream experience as a medium for Self-discovery is conveyed to the audience through symbolism.

At the beginning of the story, Kafka narrates, "As Gregor Samsa awoke in the morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect... What has happened to me? He thought. It was no dream" (Kafka, 1972:89). This introductory statement in the story sets the ground for Gregor's journey towards self-realization and acceptance of the Unconscious, or the real part of his Self. Dream in The Metamorphosis is mainly used as a symbol that represents Gregor's repressed emotions and thoughts about his family, work, and concept and perception of himself. It is evident that his denial to accept his real condition (morphing into an insect) suggests how Gregor fails to accept the truth about his life, which is full of sacrifices without any sense of fulfillment on his part.

Indeed, Kafka seeks to 'enlighten' Gregor's enslavement to his ideals of being the sole provider of the family, bonding him to a life of servitude not only to his family but to other people as well. Although he fails to recognize the truth about his change, Gregory's transformation reflects his newfound freedom from all the responsibilities that continually disturb his mind: "... Gregor was now much calmer. The words he uttered were no longer understandable... although they seemed clear enough to him, even clearer than before... He felt himself drawn once more into the human circle..." (99).

The above-mentioned passage mirrors his detachment with the society in his previous life as Gregory the human being. When he transformed into an insect, it is ironic that it is only at this time that he felt any affiliation with human society. This feeling of belongingness and contentment in life may be construed as the emergence of the Unconscious Self, the self who is "Kafka's representation of the subjective reality," making Gregor realize how he had been 'cut off' from having the opportunity or "possibility of (establishing) real human associations" (Greenberg, 1965:51-2).

In effect, the dream represents two important changes in Gregory Samsa's life: (1) his metamorphosis made him deal directly with the Self, undergoing self-realization, if not fulfillment, at the end of the story; and (2) the expression of the real Gregory, as symbolized by the insect, and the emergence of his freedom after years of being dependent on his family and society for their approval (as his source and standard for success and happiness in life). Kafka's The Metamorphosis indeed illustrates in absurd, yet truthful, account on how the Unconscious, real Self can be tapped through dreams. The author's belief in individual expression and freedom through the Unconscious being echoes Freud's stance that it is through dreams that the real (Unconscious) Self resides, always in conflict with the impersonal (Conscious) Self.

Bibliography

Freud, S. (1999). The Interpretation of Dreams. Translated by J. Crick. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Greenberg, M. (1965). Gregor Samsa and Modern Spirituality. In Franz Kafka: A Collection of Criticism. L. Hamalian (Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.

Kafka, F. (1972). Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories. N. Glatzer (Ed.). New York:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Dreams in Sigmund Freud."  Essaytown.com.  December 3, 2003.  Accessed April 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/dreams-sigmund-freud/8754454.