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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." Course Hero. 30 Mar. 2017. Web. 19 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/>.

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Einstein's Dreams | Motifs

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Dreams

Each dream in the novel contains a different theory about time, and the novel is comprised of back-to-back vignettes containing these dreams. In this light, dreams are the substance of the novel—without them Einstein's theories about time would never have come to light. The people who inhabit his dreams aren't meant to be characters that the reader follows from beginning to end, but rather a collective humanity that demonstrates the consequences of time inside of these dream worlds. Lightman seems to suggest that without these dreams, Einstein would never have arrived at his scientific theories about time that won him the Nobel Prize. Through this lens the exacting nature of science and the mysterious world of dreams combine to create something innovative and transcendent.

Consequences

Throughout the novel Einstein explores the consequences of cause and effect in the worlds he dreams. This recurring motif signifies the underlying belief that any human conception of time—whether infinite or unstable—has a consequence that may be unforeseen. Those who experience endless time in their dream world yearn for a way out, and those whose lives exist on a loop of time face the fact that they can't change the future or the past. In some dream worlds the inhabitants are acutely aware of the consequences of their actions, leading some to live lives of inaction. The author constantly investigates the idea that all time is consequential in one way or another—it only matters whether it is noticed.

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