English 117 Kleist - Elucidation by Sleep An Analysis of...

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Elucidation by Sleep: An Analysis of Kleist's "Ordeal by Fire" Dreams are a narrative of the subconcious. They are the raw and carnal representation of what we truly want. That is why dreaming has become synonymous with desire. When we want something, we say that we have dreamt of it to better express the magnitude of our wish. Though our dreams are sometimes vague or nonsensical, psychologists still consider them to be a useful tool for self discovery. Some Freudian psycho-analysts even believe that the dream-state is a perceptual manifestation of our inner id and therefore a representation of what we truly want. If dreams are a facilitator for desire then they can help elucidate our truest feelings. This is why the recurring theme of somnolent revelations in Kleist's "Ordeal by Fire" suggests that sleep, a motif that catalyzes most of the characters' internal motives, is a metaphor for truth. Firstly, Kleist makes a point of having key characters sleep at significant times to develop the plot. The playwright initially portrays this when the audience is told about Vom Strahl's prophetic dream. In the dream, Vom Strahl meets the woman that he is intended to wed by God's divine will. He is also told by an angel that said woman will be the daughter of the emperor. This girl is eventually identified as Katie and the aforementioned prophesy becomes real. In other words, it was the truth. Kleist does this to motivate Vom Strahl into seeking love which becomes the overarching theme of the entire play. Katie changes from being the figurative to the literal girl of Vom Strahl's dreams which helps solidify the theme of true love- the purest and most real emotion. We see another
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