Essay on The Reality of Dreams

Essay on The Reality of Dreams

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The Reality of Dreams

In the novel, Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M Coetzee, the magistrate’s progressive, non-linear dreams are a parallel to his growing involvement with the barbarians and his growing distaste for the empire. The great psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud said, “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious.” In every dream there is a hidden meaning and when the reader starts analyzing the magistrate’s dreams he reveals that he is oddly attracted to the barbarians and knows he should not get involved and it will be a trial to get close to them.

At the beginning to the book the magistrate is just an innocent bystander. He works for the Empire and does as he is told with a blind unquestioning eye. The reader sees him start to sympathize with the barbarians when he helps a little boy enduring inhumane torture. From then on the magistrate wants less and less to do with the Empire. As he helps the boy he says, “I feel my heart grow heavy. I never wished to be drawn into this.” (Coetzee 8) He also helps a barbarian girl by taking her in when he sees her on the street begging for money. He is very fond of her. She has been beaten harshly by the Empire and the magistrate says, “the distance between myself and her torturers, I realize, is negligible; I shudder.” He grows to hate the Empire and their unjust actions.

In one of the magistrate’s dreams, he dreams of a hooded girl. This girl automatically reminds the readers of the barbarian girl. He always struggles to reach her, see her or even talk to her. As he tries to reach her he says, “My feet sink so deep that I can barely lift them. Each step takes an age”. (Coetzee 59) In reality, the magistrate is also having a hard time gettin...

... middle of paper ...

... used to associate himself with and he starts empathizing with the barbarians. First his dreams reveal his true feelings of the Empire’s wrongs then his actions in reality start to reciprocate these desires. Through the symbols in his dreams to his helping the barbarians in reality, the magistrate divulges his odd attraction to the barbarians.

Coetzee, J.M. “Waiting for the Barbarians”. Penguin Books, 1980. Print.
Dominic , H. (2009). The Cambridge Introduction to J. M. Coetzee. (1 ed., p. 49).
Freud, Sigmund, and James Strachey. The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Basic, 2010. Print.

Works Cited

Coetzee, J.M. “Waiting for the Barbarians”. Penguin Books, 1980. Print.
Dominic , H. (2009). The Cambridge Introduction to J. M. Coetzee. (1 ed., p. 49).
Freud, Sigmund, and James Strachey. The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Basic, 2010. Print.

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