LEE ANN MURPHY: To sleep, perchance to dream – Opinion – Neosho Daily News – Neosho, MO

Although more than 400 years have passed since his death, William Shakespeare’s work remains both relevant and popular, among literature lovers and in popular culture. Of the many characters he created, Hamlet is one of the best known. In Hamlet’s soliloquy he talks of death, sleep and dreams, including the well-known quote, ‘to sleep, perchance to dream’.

Although more than 400 years have passed since his death, William Shakespeare’s work remains both relevant and popular, among literature lovers and in popular culture. Of the many characters he created, Hamlet is one of the best known. In Hamlet’s soliloquy he talks of death, sleep and dreams, including the well-known quote, ‘to sleep, perchance to dream’.
Dreams have fascinated me from an early age. As a teenager, while packing up items from my childhood home in St. Joseph, Missouri, I found a vintage copy of a little book titled ‘Dr. Jayne’s Dream Book’ that had apparently belonged to one of my great-grandmothers. The paper volume had an original price of a quarter and dated to the 1930’s. In addition to some basic dream themes for interpretation, the book also contained some health tips, a few notes about fortune telling, and some intriguing ads.
So, while scavenging some jeans and a few sweaters from my dad’s closet, adopting my mother’s high school literature books as my own, and choosing a few toys to save for the future, I read Dr. Jayne’s book with interest although the ads for his patented vermifuge lacked any appeal.
I’ve always been a dreamer and can remember a few vivid dreams from my earliest years. Now, while I’m certain I dream, I don’t always remember all of the dreams.
Sometimes, however, I do. I no longer have Dr. Jayne’s once popular book although I’ve seen it offered for sale online for more than a hundred times the original cost but I own a few dream books.
As an author, I’ve been known to untangle a few plot knots in my dreams or even to dream about distant places. Eli Whitney, American inventor, best known for inventing the cotton gin, also came up with the first patent for a sewing machine. He’d been stumped about exactly how to make the device do what he envisioned until a dream revealed the way to make the needle function as he had imagined.
From the psychology courses I took in college, I recall Freud believed all dreams to be based in wishes, both manifest and latent. In manifest dreams, the dreamer seeks something they are aware they want but in latent, the symbolism of the dream becomes the focus. Some other psychologists theorized that dreams spring from either a wish or a fear.
But symbolism in dreams existed long before Freud developed and published his theories.
I recently had a very vivid dream that began as more than a little frightening. I dreamed I was watching a movie video on my Kindle while it rested on my dresser in the bedroom. In the video, I spotted a copperhead snake and since I’m not fond of snakes, I shuddered. Then, within the dream, I realized the snake was on my dresser.
Snakes in dreams are generally held to represent a problem or issue. As my subconscious explored the dream, I experienced fear and revulsion but then, my dream-self snatched the viper behind the head so it couldn’t strike at me and I removed it from my house. As I captured it, it attempted to bite me but failed.
I woke with a start and then realized that within the dream I had conquered the snake. I’d fallen asleep fretting over some issues in my life and so, once awake, I realized that the dream was a good one.
It tells me that I can and will overcome the difficulties and issues in my life.
Is that a wish? Maybe but for me, the significance is the self-confidence that the dream provided.
My dreams, always in color (which I’ve been told is rare but I really don’t know) are usually vivid.
Some fall into the category of wish or fear dreams. Sometimes I dream about conversations with relatives who have made the transition from this life to the next or ancestors I didn’t know in life, just in family stories. I have dreamed about places I have never been in time periods during which I didn’t yet exist. Genetic memory, reincarnation, or just imagination? I don’t know but I believe I will continue to dream and that my dreams sometimes have significance. Another portion of Hamlet’s quote speculates what dreams may come and I wonder the same, with my writer’s mind and my well-developed imagination.

    
Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.

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