Opinion on "Brabantio's Dream or Shakespeare and the Unconscious"
“Brabantio’s Dream or Shakespeare and the Unconscious” by John Drakakis is an intricately composed essay. At first glance it is difficult to understand Drakakis’s argument. The word ‘dream’ has a variety of denotations and connotations that causes the word to be misinterpreted. The rest of the title: “Shakespeare and the Unconscious” clarifies Drakakis’s meaning of ‘dream’ but at the same time it makes the essay have more layers to be interpreted. In my opinion, Drakakis uses Freud’s definition of dream as the ‘residue of the day’s mental activity. Drakakis also explores the meaning of dream by giving it a prophetic function. Dreams could be conceived as nightmares or anxieties, according to Drakakis. Drakakis developed a series of questions about the category of the ‘unconscious’ (dream) in Shakespeare’s texts. Drakakis uses psychoanalysis to relate to the conscious and unconscious psychological processes. Freud defines the dream as a residue of the day’s mental activity: a repressed wish. In Hamlet, the ‘residue’ could be the awareness of mortality and in Macbeth it could be interpreted as ‘guilt’. In Othello, the narrative that Iago and Roderigo tell Brabantio makes Brabantio’s dream a residue: unfinished business that has risen from his unconscious. Brabantio thinks his dream causes the elopement of his daughter to be true. In Othello, Brabantio’s dream has a prophetic function. Desdemona’s elopement is prophesied in Brabantio’s dream. His dream confirms the ‘reality’ to which Iago and Roderigo now expose him even before firsthand ‘proof’ is available to him. His dream might also have had an effect on Othello’s conscious. His wife was bold enough to disobey her father, could she also disobey or hurt Othello? Caesar’s dream in Julius Caesar, Bottom’s dream in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Sly’s dream in The Taming of the Shrew epitomize future action. In Othello, anxieties on the issues of class, race, patriarchal power, and social propriety are evident in the characters and their actions. Drakakis wrote that “Othello is the tragic nightmare re-figuration of three earlier plays: The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado About Nothing.” Brabantio’s dream is the nightmare of Venetian patriarchy, and anxiety that informs both its domestic life and its political strategies. In Othello, “the political unconscious that brings about fantasy revealed that a dream can seep into the political and domestic business of everyday waking life.” In Macbeth
, Banquo has a fear of his dream, “cursed thoughts that Nature gives way to in repose”. Therefore, he resists the prophesies of the Weird Sisters, which are moral and ethical, but also political since it is based upon a sense of obligation that underpins Duncan’s rule. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth experience a nightmare: a world without sleep. They felt guilt for the murder of King Duncan. They made the prophesy of the Weird Sisters come true by taking matters into their own hands. Their anxiety got the best of them. Drakakis tried to explain how dreams and the unconscious can come together and affect the conscious thoughts and actions of Shakespeare’s characters. Dreams can affect the social and political environment that overdetermines ‘intention’. Drakakis wrote “the complex knot of overdeterminations whereby body, mind, and social order meet, is the unarticulated dream that flows out into the ‘body’ of the dramatic action itself. Although parts ofrakakis’s essay was difficult to understand, it certainly has insight and interesting concepts about dreams and the unconscious in Shakespearean texts