Sigmund Freud Questions for English 256 Intro to Theory, Chapman University Fall 2012



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Assigned: Sigmund Freud. From The Interpretation of Dreams (814-24 Leitch).

From The Interpretation of Dreams

From "Chapter V. The Material and Sources of Dreams"

1. On 814-17, how (and for what psychoanalytic purpose) does Freud account for the perpetual and seemingly universal appeal of Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus the King? What view of the play does he oppose, and why? If you are presenting on this question, do you find Freud's reading of the play sufficient and compelling? Why or why not?

2. On 817-18, Freud addresses Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet as another instance of the Oedipus Complex. How is Prince Hamlet's problem different from Oedipus' dilemma? How does Freud explain the variation, and what does he infer to be the wider cultural or historical significance of that difference?

3. On 818, how does Freud draw upon Shakespeare's biography and career as a dramatist to construct an expressive theory for the play Hamlet? What limitations does Freud place upon this kind of biography-based expressive criticism of a work of art?

From "Chapter VI. The Dream-Work"

4. On 818-19, how does Freud define the manifest content of dreams and the latent dream-thoughts, respectively? Why have previous explicators of dreams failed so badly in their attempts, in Freud's view -- what didn't they understand about the "dream-content" as Freud conceptualizes that content?

5. On 820-22, how does Freud explain dream displacement and dream condensation? How do these two mechanisms, taken together, constitute the form of dreams? Why are they essential to establishing a relationship between the dream-content and dream-thoughts?

6. On 822-24, what insights does Freud offer regarding the manner in which the dream-work represents logical connections, causal relations, and negations or "contraries and contradictories" that may have been a factor in the dreamer's original "dream-thoughts"? What is the dream interpreter's role with regard to understanding such representations when they appear in the manifest content of a given dream?

7. General question: It's obvious why Freud's theory of the Unconscious instills anxiety in many people about the autonomy of individual consciousness. How do you personally deal with or process this unsettling theory? This question may be used for the journal set, but it isn't intended as a presentation question.

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2010. ISBN 978-0-393-93292-8.