Thursday, June 26, 2014

Freudian Dream Symbolism

The theme of “drawer” takes yet another turn as we are searching for psychoanalytic meanings about the subject of “drawers” or “boxes”. Throughout Freud’s works, we come across two principle meanings with which drawers tend to be associated: 1) a chest of drawers is equated to a torso of a woman, as Salvador Dali already depicted it in both painting and sculpture with The City of Drawers and The Woman with Drawers. The “empty” drawer, on the other hand is a symbol of a woman’s uterus, a space that produces life but also forebodes death. Thus by extension, the drawer/ box also acquires the meaning of the final box/ the casket in which we place the dead body. In his Interpretations of Dreams (1900), Freud writes: “that the heart will be represented by hollow boxes or baskets (p.86.); “Boxes, cases, chests, cupboards and ovens represent the uterus” (p. 354); A man had a dream of 2 his brother being in a Kasten [box]. In the course of interpretation, the Kasten was replaced by a Schrank [cupboard - also used abstractly for ‘barrier’, restriction]. The dream – thought had been to the effect that his brother ought to restrict himself [sich einschraenken] - instead of the dreamer doing so. “(407) In Freud’s famous case history of Dora, the symbolism of box/ Schachtel acquires center stage as one of her dreams reveals the close unconscious link between a box and a woman as well as the tie between a key and a man. Freud (1905) writes, “Where is the key?” seems to me to be the masculine counterpart to the question “Where is the box?. They are therefore questions referring-to-the genitals.” (p.97)

In a later, less known essay, The Theme of the Three Caskets (1913), Freud discusses The Merchant of Venice and King Lear and derives at the conclusion that when a man has to choose between three caskets as the suitors are obliged to do as they woo for Portia, the suitors are not really choosing between three caskets but between three women. “If what we were concerned with were a dream, it would occur to us at once that caskets are also women, symbols of what is essential in woman, and therefore of a woman herself - like coffers, boxes, cases, baskets and so on.” (1913, p. 292)
- Jeanne Wolff-Bernstein

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