The Reason, Process, and Meanings behind Gregor’s Transformation in the Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis presents a story about a man’s alienation from his family: Gregor, working arduously for his family, suddenly turns into a bug, and progressively gets abandoned by his parents and sister. However, beyond this abrupt event, Gregor already is a social “vermin” – justified by his inability to execute individuality; his transformation is, in my opinion, also a gradual process that not only symbolizes the changes in his perspectives toward his surroundings, but also the alteration of his family’s thoughts about himself.

Gregor’s transformation illustrates his problems about general isolation from modern society that put expectations to his hard-working. Long before Gregor turns into a vermin, he has wished to get equally well-treated with his colleagues and family members but fails. As Gregor says, “That’s all I’d have to try with my boss; I’d be fired on the spot. Anyway, who knows if that wouldn’t be a very good thing for me. If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would have quit long ago.” (1.5), he is constrained by the working conditions that force him to get up early while seeing other workers enjoying their breakfast. Turning into a giant bug seems a fulfillment of his will to get rid of this job. In addition, he is the only one who can support the family, but after this transformation deprives him of the ability to work, every member attempts to expel him without considering his contribution, further suggesting his verminous position before the metamorphosis really takes place.

The establishing process of transformation stems from Gregor’s tedious lifestyle. Working as a traveling salesman, he can presumably get to know a lot of things from outside world. Instead, he complains that there cannot be long-enduring relationships with other people around this business. Besides, he cannot have the time like his family members to get relaxation from reading newspapers, playing music instruments, etc. Such monotonous life mode makes him distasteful, as depicted after his waking up: “His room, a regular human room, only a little on the small side, lay quiet between the four familiar walls.” (1.2) Though Gregor is familiar with the room, he feels uncomfortable about it, as emphasized by the phrase “regular human room”.

Despite Gregor’s literal transformation, there are more, symbolically, transformations about his entire family. His father most directly shows the outrage toward Gregor, and as he returns to his job, wearing up the clothes, he regains the authority of supporting family and controlling Gregor’s will. His mother, being stunned by the moment as she sees the vermin, feels desperate about her son’s mishap but later turns in to suppress her anxiety. What’s more is about Greta’s transformation: “She had in fact noticed that Gregor needed plenty of room to crawl around in; and on the other hand, as best she could tell, he never used the furniture at all” (2.22). As Greta notices her brother’s needs, she comes to be more decisive in taking care of Gregor, accompanying the decrease of Gregor’s agency. This is even testified later when Gregor scares the boarders away, it is Greta who makes the ultimate decision to get rid of Gregor as the family is dealing with a kitchen bug.

Summing up all the points about the why, how, and what about his transformation, Gregor is unhappy about his situations, living with a verminous lifestyle. The transformation makes him lose respect and the ability to support family, but also changes the entire family’s roles, as exemplified by Greta’s increasing agency of making decisions.


Works Cited

“The Metamorphosis.” by Franz Kafka. Trans. David Wyllie. Sweden: Wisehouse Classics, 2015. Print.

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Project of Albert Camus’ The Plague

Above is our masterpiece!

(We received the project assignment at the right beginning of the new semester. This project instructed students to interpret one of the four levels operated in Albert Camus’ The Plague: Literal, political, metaphysical, and existential. We chose metaphysical. Through a week’s work for it, we accomplished an artwork. Here’s our project reflection, and two corresponding quotes that help us create our painting.)

Part 1: Reflection of The Plague Abstraction Project

Literary ideas could be simply expressed using abstract objects, such as the different levels of thoughts made in The Plague. This book operates on four lens: literal, political, metaphysical, and existential, each of which could be interpreted using different viewpoints. We selected metaphysical level to create our abstract work through the project.

This process took us about half a day to accomplish our goals. First, we brainstormed about the structure of this artwork and its corresponding properties, like colors, shapes, and some highlighted objects. Then we bought the required materials: a piece of A3 paper, pigments, water, and a paint brush. While three other students of our group have done the purchasing or explaining the ideas behind our creation, Blake worked for painting and finished it before school.

The artwork we created so far was revolved around the metaphysical lens that generally emphasizes the presence of evilness and people’s reactions toward it. Therefore, through this understanding, we attempted to create a scene that there was a red bloody background – symbolizing the deaths in The Plague – and a bar that represents Oran’s isolation. Within the bar exists a black solid circle, which is the plague itself, accompanied by various things that stretch out of the circle symbolizing different people’s reactions.

In my opinion, our portrait of this lens was successful in capturing the metaphysical lens through the coloring, shaping, and highlighting of this artwork. We could envision many different reactions in respect to the plague simply through the objects themselves. Besides the red background and the bars, the gloomy color tone also makes the audience aware that the plague puts the entire town into distress. However, since most of our objects that are attached to the black circle were based upon the main characters, our work could also be misinterpreted as portraying literal lens of the novel.

Nevertheless, I gained deeper understanding about different ways to view the novel The Plague. Instead of focusing on the written texts, I tried to convert the main ideas expressed in this novel into a simpler, abstract painting. Through the project, therefore, I knew to make what seemed complex into a vivid imagery. Moreover, I got to appreciate other groups’ works, and understood that there were other lens successfully portrayed in their paintings. Their works gave me insights about expressing different levels of meanings through abstraction.

Part 2: Analysis of quotes from The Plague in metaphysical level

Quote: Generally speaking, they did not lack courage, bandied more jokes than lamentations, and made a show of accepting cheerfully unpleasantnesses that obviously could be only passing. In short, they kept up appearances. (Part 2, Chapter 10)

Analysis: While the plague is expected to put the whole town into silence and fear, there are certain citizens who, surprisingly, would express their feelings in an extreme way. Instead of focusing on the plague, they seem to be indifferent toward its existence, pretend to continue normal lifestyles, and even accept the truth. This absurdity of actions makes us aware that different people conceptualize the world in different aspects, and thus behave distinctively to the society they perceive. They surely are the observers of this entire catastrophe, but they have different perspectives about it.

Quote: Rambert said he’d thought it over very carefully, and his views hadn’t changed, but if he went away, he would feel ashamed of himself, and that would embarrass his relations with the woman he loved. Showing more animation, Rieux told him that was sheer nonsense; there was nothing shameful in preferring happiness. (Part 4, Chapter 20)

Analysis: Confronting this plague, people may differ in their reactions throughout the passage of time. Rambert, though occasionally attempts to escape the town to seek his wife, changes his decisions through the impact of Rieux. The dynamism of his changing actions imply the transformation of his original viewpoints about the plague and the isolation of Oran. The interaction between the two characters also illustrates that in the face of evilness, they both decide to fight against the plague, though Rieux regards it as a necessary duty, while Rambert does this job through a moral conflict between rightness and wrongness.

Rhetorical Analysis of Man’s Search for Meaning

During the time around World War II, psychoanalysis had set its reputation in the field of psychology. Nevertheless, new theories of interpreting psychological factors arose and got new attention from the public – logotherapy was one of them. In Man’s Search for Meaning, the author explicated on his experience in concentration camp and the lessons derived from his sufferings. These things obtained him new insights about logotherapy as he explored deeper into the psychology of human beings.

Of course, the first part of this book took a long account telling the experience, but what’s more important is the three phases of the prisoners inside the concentration camp. “When one examines the vast amount of material which has been amassed as the result of many prisoners’ observations and experiences, three phases of the inmate’s mental reactions to camp life become apparent.” (P22) As Frankl observed the prisoners’ behaviors, he generalized them into three discontinuous segments, and took separated paragraphs to illustrate several examples of these phases. Moreover, the story was not written in chronological order, but rather in the form of different episodes that included different characters’ interactions. The full book itself is in first person, but besides the introspection Frankl took about his own experience in the concentration camp, it also encompassed other people’s thoughts about their own life’s meanings, as Frankl concluded from his observations: “It can be readily understood that such a state of strain, coupled with the constant necessity of concentrating on the task of staying alive, forced the prisoner’s inner life down to a primitive level.” (P40) Obviously, the author took his voice to convey the meanings that various factors implemented inside the camp might contribute to the mental disorder of the prisoners. By contrast, therefore, the author, having blocked the negative impacts of these factors, has gained the credibility of explaining what he envisioned about logotherapy.

The second part, being more naturally theoretical, describes his own psychological theory. In this part, Frankl explored on the way his school of psychology came into maturation, including his experiences of being a psychotherapist and his patients’ diagnosis. As he proposed several basic components involved in logotherapy, he also postulated this theory as similar but different from psychoanalysis: “Logotherapy, in comparison with psychoanalysis, is a method less retrospective and less introspective. Logotherapy focuses rather on the future, that is to say, on the meanings to be fulfilled by the patient in his future.” (P104) Through this explanation, Frankl successfully arrived at a new concept for the society to be learned, that is, looking forward to the dreams people have, and the motivation they inherently possess instead of neurosis. Compared to Freud’s relatively emphatic tone in The Interpretation of Dreams, Frankl tries to be communicative with the readers to introduce this seemingly sophisticated topic, thus making them readily capable of understanding his psychological theory’s concepts.

The postscript plunges into the optimism beyond tragic situations. As he mentioned, people suffers in different degrees, they have distinct views about their lives: some people are capable of coping with stressors while others are not. This distinction had given the readers a warning sign about their own attitudes toward living. Traumatic events and daily hassles all implement on the psychological well-being of men, so “the human capacity to turn creatively turn life’s negative aspects into something positive or constructive” (P139) is rather a fundamental part of Frankl’s ideal about tragic optimism. It is easy to observe this pattern during our learning of ideals of human emotion, stress, and health. Therefore, if the previous two parts are said to be describing his own psychological theory, the postscript answers the readers’ confusion of the theory’s application through connecting concepts of logotherapy to the general knowledge in the field of psychology.

Life has a meaning. Throughout this book, this central theme almost surrounds the entire text to testify different people’s fates inside the concentration camp, as they have diverged degree of hopefulness. Frankl often quoted Nietzsche’s maxim, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” (P5) This sentence emphasizes his belief that men possess the ability to choose what is meaningful in his life. There are also a lot of arguments inside the first part. For instance, love gives life meaning. As the Frankl thought about his wife in the concentration camp, he could be relieved from the hardships he experienced: He did not know about his wife’s status, but was rather empowered by taking the emotional burden he had for thinking of her. In author’s view, religion also gives life meaning, as individuals are aware of the assignments the divinity gives for them a reason to survive. What’s surprising to the readers, still, is Frankl’s idea that suffering gives life meaning. He was not frustrated with the will to meaning though he was in bad conditions. He suffered for his loss to honor something he once owned.

The intended audience, ostensibly, is those who have experienced intense stresses in any way. Just like what the author mentioned about his life in concentration camp and other patients’ accounts, they could, in some way, be connected to the powerful message of this book about dealing with those stressors. It also has certain identification with people who have other sufferings, such as oppression or persecution, though not physically implemented, could also hurt their feelings. They might find some ways to cope with the stresses through the exploration of this book. Nevertheless, even people with relatively easy lives could find ways to connect to this book. They surely have gained adequate success, and possibly possess need for achievement. However, Frankl still prompted them to find deeper levels of their lives’ meanings. We adolescents, who are susceptible to identity and role confusion, can also be enlightened by this book’s reflection on purposes of people’s life circumstances and choices.

References

Frankl, V. (1992) Man’s Search for Meaning (Fourth Edition.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press

Thank You, My Interview

This winter break, I am not relaxed. Earlier than that, I had declined my classmates’ several invitations of a trip to Japan. From the start of the break (January 12), I was just preparing for the upcoming InitialView interview in six days, and struggled for a while to think about my own words: What I could say about myself? Is it really good to say this? Will the admission office of my dream school value my speech? Sometimes I even thought whether my TOEFL Speaking score – the unchangeable label – would put stereotype threat to my interview performance.

Obviously, I took a lot of time to draft my interview according to my past events. I picked my most dedicated extracurricular activity – mangrove forest protection – as the main topic around the interview. “Whatever the interviewer’s trick is, I am going to swerve his or her interest to this activity.” Additionally, NOVA Monthly magazine club, my violin playing, as well as my campus life, are all encompassed in the big bundle of my mind. Gradually, I also got many insights beyond these activities, making me surprised about the power of introspection.

The preparation was intense, but it worth. Everyday I stared at the mirror and warned myself to be expressive. I sat in front of my father, who was, not definitely great at English, acted as my interviewer. As he questioned me about various aspects of my life, I really had to take time to process what he intended to say despite answering his “curiosities”. Nevertheless, I found myself really fluent in speaking, and whatever question my dear papa asked about, I would provide satisfactory response that was already packed in my mind full of the materials. Of course, my seniors also cordially offer their experiences last year during the InitialView and encourage me to catch this chance and make a hit; my foreign teachers in my school, though not available for preparation, also provide tips for me to get rid of this interview.

Still, the day will come. I got into the CBD of Shenzhen and was elevated to the fourteenth floor of the Time Finance Centre. There I saw teacher who instructed me to take a writing. “How to love a person?” Well, this topic was easy, and I harnessed what I learned from psychology course. After the writing, I was sent to have an interview.

At first, the interview asked me about my plan, and I told her the truth, that I would play violin on stage. (Actually, I just finished my performance yesterday!) However, as the interview progressed, I thought the topic about violin was talked about too much, and I took a strategic turn to swerve her attention to mangrove forest protection. Fortunately, I finished the entire interview process.

Today, I received my report, and I was quite satisfied with my results. My parents took a look at my chubby face and my seniors, as well, appreciated how great my interview was. I am confident to send my interview video to my dream school’s admission office. Now, as I send my InitialView video to the admission office of my dream school, I also send a seed of hope to it.

Status

Bourgeoisie’s Anxiety

Nowadays, more and more families decide to send their children study abroad. Despite those definitely rich people who regard the tuition fee as an ignorable fraction of their income, more and more middle classes, including my family, also make this choice. What’s different, though, is that we have to make plan to use money.

No need to mention my motivation beyond studying abroad. The core question is, why would my parents overcome the challenge of great cost and support my education? From the beginning of my high school life, anything about testing, studying, and applying is tied to certain expense.

Standardized tests are necessary part for our profile. However, registering for a test is, though not that costly, still countable to my parents’ weekly salary. For rich students’ ideals, it is good to test frequently and show the greatest score to the application office. But for the relatively poor students like me, I have to decide when is the most suitable schedule for me to plan a test and guarantee that I cannot lose the chance to best behave myself at that time. You now perceive the stress. Moreover, lack of context also puts stereotype threat to me. I must to confess that rich people really experience more about the world, and they have greater insights to certain questions. It seems inevitable for me to be considered less knowledgeable.

Cram school. Yes, in this generation full of intelligent people, it is common to see many students studying in such a place. We see from a lot of institutions hosting such auxiliary classes that their advertisements are great lists of students who get high scores on specific tests, thus implicitly propagating the effectiveness of aided education. But the cost is even far higher than the standardized testing fee itself. When preparing for such an exam, rich students really put great efforts in cram school. On the contrary, I am not able to assess the class simply because I have to seriously manage my cost. Furthermore, there are many academic competitions that require exceptional skills on certain subject field, and I heard my peers taking part in the course and got big, big, big prize. Is the prize really big? Or, it is just exaggerated by those cram institutions. Well, at least my careful listening to the school class and self-study technique work for me to win prizes important for my career interest.

College application is more of a big deal, even the cost of testing and studying is relatively too cheap to be mentioned. Of course, the application fee is not expensive, but the expenditure beyond the college application could be so enormous for some students who get to… Oh, the next thing I am going to say may be sensitive. Due to incomplete statistic, the majority of the international students in my district take agencies. You might not know this, let me explain this term to you. Generally, the agency is an institution which manage registered students’ materials and give them advice about the best way to succeed during application period. Sometimes, students who get to agencies earlier in high school do extracurricular activities out of their suggestions. It seems that the applicants who do not have an agency but apply by themselves are heretics, and even my community of international applicants make a term for this – DIY applicant. I am not completely DIY, though; I just use another way to aid my application, that is to ask help from seniors and my own school’s counselors. They are totally free and are glad to solve my problems.

We bourgeoisies are really not in advantage about these matters. However, we have different mindset from those of rich students which put more emphasis on intrapersonal intelligence. To make ourselves more self-aware is to make ourselves more outstanding.

The Interpretation of Dreams Journal 7

In the book “The Interpretation of Dream”, Freud puts forward his theory that the dream is the fulfillment of unconscious wishes, and he elaborately introduces the process of how unconscious wishes are concealed and how they endeavor to break through the consciousness: On its way to consciousness along the path of the thought processes, the unconscious wish is always distorted by the censorship, which transfers it into a recent material, and thus appears unrecognizable to us. Its further progress is then checked by the state of sleep of the preconscious, a system protects the unconscious wish from the diminishing excitations. Therefore, the dream process of regression takes place in the sleeping state and in so doing acquires representability.

While other writers attribute the occurrence of the forgetting of dreams to the mutually alien character of the waking and sleeping states, Freud believes that it’s dream-censorship that makes people forget about some parts of dreams, a way of resistance to the penetration of the dream-thoughts into consciousness. Upon this situation, Freud suggests that we direct our attention to a single element of the dream and find out the involuntary thoughts associated with this element. After we repeatedly do the same process with different component of the dream-content, we will finally come upon the dream-thoughts from which the dream originated. In other words, we should open a new path in our waking state and, along this path, run back from the dream-elements to the dream-thoughts instead of completely focusing on the interpretation-work of nocturnal dreams.

Before the explanation of regression, it’s important to first look at Freud’s interpretation of “psychic apparatus”, which he considers as a compound instrument containing two “systems” – the initial system receives stimulus of perception but retains no memory, while the second system lied behind the initial system transforms the temporary stimulus of the first into lasting traces. According to this structure, because thought-relations are contained in the second system, where they forfeit expression in the regression to the perceptual images, all those thought-relations of the dream-thoughts either lost in the dream-work or have difficulty in achieving expression. Freud conclude this phenomenon of regression as “the structure of the dream-thoughts breaking up into its raw material.”(Chapter 7, P277) At the end of this section, Freud puts forward a much more significant theory upon the regression, saying that we can have insight not only into the phylogenetic childhood but even into the evolution of the human race because dreaming is on the whole an act of regression to the earliest childhood.

Because the nocturnal thought-process stops working during sleeping in order to let preconsciousness have some rest, Freud assumes that the sensory surface of consciousness, which is turned toward the preconscious, is far more difficult to be excited than the sensory surface turning toward the perception in the sleeping state. However, dreams have a waking effect that can stimulate parts of the quiescent energy of the preconscious. Under the influence from this energy, dreams experience “secondary elaboration”, which patches together fragments from materials that seem to be contradictory in order to further disguise the unconscious wishes, just like piecing the cine film together. The absurd dreams, so frequently mentioned by Freud, also experience this secondary elaboration.

Negating the commonly held opinion that consciousness is the general basis in the course of psychic events, Freud considers unconscious as true psychic reality, comparing the unconscious to a larger circle including the smaller circle of consciousness. In addition, although most psychologists think that there are two kinds of unconscious, Freud maintains that one of them is the “unconscious”, which can not turn to the consciousness, and another one is “preconscious”, capable of reaching consciousness after passing through the censorship. Freud also vividly describes preconscious as a screen between the consciousness and the unconscious. Based on the knowledge I learn in class and the analysis in this book, I agree with Freud’s opinion concerning the relationship and the distinction between consciousness and the unconscious. The process such as the regulation of blood pressure works without our awareness, and it must be the unconscious. But sometimes, memory accessible to consciousness only after something calls my attention. For example, I can only remember my experience during childhood until my parents mention the details. According to Freud, those memories that I can only recall with stimulus must be preconscious.

 

References

Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature

The Interpretation of Dreams Journal 6

As to Freud’s thoughts, the dream content has a lot of backstories to tell about: “It would of course be incorrect to attempt to read these symbols in accordance with their values as pictures, instead of in accordance with their meaning as symbols.” (Chapter 6, P121) And there exists dream-work that makes the dreamer’s subconscious latent. Virtually, this work comes into two parts: condensation and displacement. Condensation means that even a single fragment of the dream has more than one thought about the dreamer, and the various thoughts attach to it. On the other hand, displacement transfer the dreamer’s thoughts about certain subject to another one, for the purpose of escaping from censorship. Moreover, symbolism also connects certain objects to other meanings. To address the mechanism of dream-work, Freud proposes some types of dreams, of which there are three major subcategories: arithmetic, speech and absurd dreams.

For the arithmetic dream, Freud says that “What the dream-work consists in, and its unceremonious handling of its material, the dream-thoughts, may be shown in an instructive manner by the numbers and calculations which occur in dreams.” (Chapter 6, P198) He points out that the digits are representative of the dream-work that makes something obvious unexplainable. Still, these numbers are not nonsensical, but possess certain traits the dreamers are await. Freud exemplifies this principle through a typical dream: The dreamer perceives himself as a policeman with a mission, and he sees his supervisor has an armlet with number 22 and 62. In fact, the dream is a high class general, with the same number on the armlet, but he wishes to get higher to be a supervisor. Through further investigation, Freud knows he only serves for 22 years, and two years plus two months are needed to get a satisfactory retirement pay. If he does so, he can get all the payment, just like his colleague, who retires in age 62 recently. Therefore, it is still that the dream subconsciously has the wish to be at a higher position as well as that of getting more money, and Freud’s account of the nature of dream is thought to be feasible.

I also have a dream about arithmetic: When I am traveling in a forest with a zoologist, I sees a lot of squirrels. Suddenly, as the zoologist calls out a signal, the squirrels become obedient to him and even stand in certain locations to make the entire team looks like a number “five” in front of my eyes. If Freud’s argument is true, it should be obvious that there is a wish: I dream of becoming an expert in biology. I do like squirrels, and they never come to be so agile inside this scene. But for more things about number, I guess it conveys me information that I need to study for at least five more years to profess in this field of study.

The second typical dream Freud mentions about is speech. “No matter how many speeches and answers, which may in themselves be sensible or absurd, may occur in dreams, analysis always shows us that the dream has merely taken from the dream-thoughts fragments of speeches which have really been delivered or heard, and has dealt with them in the most arbitrary fashion.” (Chapter 6, P200) This applies to the dream-content measure mentioned in previous chapter, which explains why dreams include fragments of various events happened in the past. Freud furthers his opinion about the speech dream by pointing out another dream. In this dream, the dreamer is posited inside a big yard, where many corpses are burned. As he says, “I want to leave here, this scene is unbearable,” the butcher’s two kids appear and is asked whether the taste is good. One of them says, “No, it’s not good at all.” Supposedly, this meat comes from humans. But, as Freud explores deeper inside the dream, he discovers a context which completely alters the meaning of the dream: When he is visiting an old granny, who is not welcomed by others, with his wife, she just finishes the meal and forces him to taste her dishes. He politely rejects, with saying about his lack of appetite. But due to the granny’s urges, he tries and does feel good about the meal. However, when he is getting alone with his wife, he complains that this neighbor is too stubborn and cooks bad. Therefore, we can see that the dream really plays a magical role in carrying out the true thoughts about dreamers. Like this example, his bad feelings about the granny’s meal is transferred to the seemingly horrible content of the dream, though the words changed a little.

For me, this type of dream is rare, but I still can remember one: I works for a farm with a tool that remove the weeds. Though being tired, I still whisper to myself that working for a farm is far more “fortunate” than studying. As my cousin comes in, he says, “Your work is great, but you would rather study for a while.” This dream interesting because it provides me with confusion about my attitude toward studying. For no reason, I prefer reading books than doing farm works, and this should not be a direct wish fulfillment. However, as I start to think that maybe the word “fortunate” in Chinese is similar to “painstaking”, I recollect back some memories with my cousin that we really have great times in my hometown. But the farm works are actually tedious. But during present time, I also have gotten tired occasionally, so I transfer this feeling to the dream, with a complete change in the meaning of a word.

The last type of dream Freud talks about is of absurdness. To be more precise, it is the category that collects all the supernatural scenes into the dream-content. Even though the absurdity really intrigues a lot of thoughts about the nature of dreams, Freud still maintains his idea: “The dream-thoughts are never absurd and the dream-work produces absurd dreams, and dreams with individually absurd elements, when the dream-thoughts contain criticism, ridicule, and derision, which have to be given expression.” (Chapter 6, P215) Specifically, there is a dream Freud deals with for a patient who has a father died earlier: His father experiences a severe accident. When the train is traveling at night, it suddenly gets off the track and squishes his father’s head because the seats are distorted. Then, the dreamer discovers his father is in a bed with a clear scar. He is surprised by his father being involved inside an accident. In fact, this dream appears because of recollection about memories with his father. He asked for an artist to make a sculpture for his father, and he discovered a bust after several days when he checked the progress. Moreover, the scar inside the dream actually corresponds to his father’s frown of sadness, and as he finds out his picture, he accidentally dropped it, forming a scar piercing through his sister’s eyelids. The background for this dream seems very odd, but it still plays a major role in modulating the dream-content.

 

References

Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature

Compare and Contrast the Force from A New Hope and the Way from Taoist ideals

The Force from A New Hope and the Way in Taoism present two great distinctive beliefs. The Force, an energy field created by all li

ving things that bestows individuals with idealistic courage, surrounds and penetrates them; the Way, on the other hand, is the mysterious, unnamable process through which everything in the universe happens, teaching people to be less attentive to the glory from material world.

The Force provides people with means of completing some challenging quests that could render great results, regardless of what they have. In A New Hope, it is a natural power contrary to a more technological power the Death Star uses. To show this, the Rebels and heroes are seen in more natural settings like deserts and forests while the Empire is seen in large technological settings. As the mentor Obi-wan Kenobi always says to Luke, “May the Force be with you.”, this sentence acts as a spiritual guide to Luke’s journey and gives him determination, which is a clear distinction with Darth Vader’s emphasis on brutal destruction. For instance, when he is going for a mission to destroy the Death Star, there are many missiles from his enemies that block his way. Commonly, he is not able to handle this situation by himself, but every moment the sentence flashes back to his mind, he can pay more attention toward the mission and be less stressed. In a way, the Force goes beyond the superiority of technology and makes something impossible come true.

By contrast, the Way emphasizes more about the balance between gain and loss throughout lifetime. If people is enlightened by it, they will be guided to understand the benefits and drawbacks of certain deeds. Also, the Way reduces the distinction between different things but rather integrate them into a whole. “Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs.” (5.1-2) Under Taoist view, all the living things are under the same world, that they should be treated equally, since their existences have certain meanings that people should not depreciate. To reinforce the idea, Daodejing points out that the Way in which stricter and stricter laws create crime and stifle a country’s productivity. As people are members of the society, they need to obey the law of nature regardless of how powerful they are. In conclusion, it is feasible to say that the Way goes beyond the superiority of rules – the confinement – and makes something absurd explicable.

Though the Force and the Way differ in many perspectives, they share the ideal intellect of having people completing certain important goals. As Luke is able to defeat dreadful enemies and finally save princess Leia and her planet behind so many challenges through the encouragement of the Force, he has to think about the negative effects about his journey, like what the Way considers. Even though A New Hope does not have any mention about the Way, it actually exists throughout the storyline: As the Death Star’s evil plan irritates the Rebels, the Force comes into action to urge the heroes wiping out the vicious authority, giving Darth Vader a painful compensation.

In general, the Force and the Way both in a degree present people’s ideals about the right behaviors, but the Force can also be seen as a metaphysical power that prompts individuals to be dedicated to their actions, while the Way puts more emphasis on the two sides of a single event, benefiting, also punishing, the person who takes part in it.

 

Works Cited

“Star Wars: A New Hope” 20th Century Fox. Washington D.C.: L. George, 1977.

“Daodejing.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Trans. D.C. Lau. Third ed. Vol.A. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2012, 1347-1354. Print.

The Interpretation of Dreams Journal 5

In addition to one of the main points made by Freud which accounts for the distortion in dreams, there is another interesting idea concerning dream content: “It has at its disposal the earliest impressions of our childhood, and brings to light details from this period of life, which, again, seem trivial to us, and which in waking life were believed to have been long since forgotten.” (Chapter 5, P51) This sentence opens to a new discussion about the materials and sources of dreams in this chapter, which, basically, can be attributed to the four typical dreams Freud mentioned about.

The first typical dream is of nakedness. It is the dream common in everyone’s life that such case could lead to embarrassment. However, the dreamer, inside the dream, will not be mocked and blamed by other unfamiliar people. In fact, most of this type of dream has these strangers paying no attention to the dreamer’s embarrassing nakedness. “The substitute for these persons offered by the dream, the `number of strangers’ who take no notice of the spectacle offered them, is precisely the counter-wish to that single intimately-known person for whom the exposure was intended.” (Chapter 5, P100) As Freud said, the counter-wish signifies a kind of secret which prompts the meaning of the dream to become so vague that produces unsatisfying effects for people. Since we are born, the content of human nature is always present in our mind, but to some degree censored and suppressed as we grow up: we feel ashamed of exposing our body parts. Therefore, through this censorship, the vivid dream provides the means for the dreamer to avoid such situation in real life.

The second typical dream generally plots the death of relatives. Some portion of the dream has the dreamer does not feel so sad about this, but most of it still makes the dreamer feel deeply regretful for their relatives’ death even during real sleep. This type of dream seems to contradict the Freud’s claim that the latent content – the unconscious – plays a role in the dream’s content, since people really do not want to have their beloved persons die. But if people think of our childhood memories, they do have some uncomfortable experiences with their relatives that prompt the wish of leaving them away. Freud admits: “Many adults who today are devoted to their brothers and sisters, and support them in adversity, lived with them in almost continuous enmity during their childhood.” (Chapter 5, P103) Children always have egocentric thoughts that they consider everything surrounding them under their control. They do not have much sense about death but rather think it will not disturb other living people.

A more confusing element of the second typical dream is about the death of parents, since people tend to love their parents for their nurture. But for Freud, there is another thing needed to be brought out: “It is as though a sexual preference made itself felt at an early age, as though the boy regarded his father, and the girl her mother, as a rival in love — by whose removal he or she could but profit.” (Chapter 5, P106) Naturally, mother will be sexually attractive to son and father is sexually attractive to daughter. During childhood, for example, a son will be permitted to sleep with his mother when his “rival” – father – leaves, proving that the hostility has been testified by the sheer wish-fulfillment that inadvertently has set father dead in his dream.

Although not systematically categorized into the book, the third typical dream is added into the previous part: the dreamer flies with a feeling of ease or falls in terror. What is interesting is that it generally takes part in grown-up adults. Freud debunks other people’s theory that this type of dream is attributed to the present physical sensations while explains this dream as a kind of wish-fulfillment which is suppressed in real life. Children have been experienced in exciting rapid motion which afterwards ends with unhappiness, and as adults recollect back this memory, they are regretful for their inability to do such things again.

The last typical dream centers on examination: the dreamer fails on a test and has to study a subject again or fails to receive doctor degree. This dream is common for people who are going to take an important task such as final exam. But even for those who have already received doctor degree, they still experience this type of dream. “We dream of our matriculation, or the examination for the doctor’s degree … whenever we feel the burden of responsibility.” (Chapter 5, P116) For Freud, this can be attributed to the dreamers’ anxiety of conducting great things they feared of failure, because they are responsible for them. But as the dreamers realize they have succeeded in such tasks in reality, they feel relaxed about their testing experiences, willingly reducing the stress of doing their jobs in the future.

Compare the four types of dream, it is not difficult to find out that they both similar in the subconscious thoughts about fulfilling wishes. While the first and fourth type of dream gives the dreamer a sense of avoiding such cases in real life, the second and third type, though undesired, has its manifestation of the dreamer’s unconscious will to have their beloved persons die or move rapidly, which, as to Freud, are distorted by the strict dream-work. But still, they have common features for the dream content: “the preferential selection of recent and also of infantile material.” (Chapter 5, P82)

I often tend to have the second type of dream, which is about the death of my father. In one such a dream, my parents, after traveling, take airplane to return to Shenzhen, but the plane suddenly crashes when it is landing. As the plane incinerates, my mom successfully escapes through parachute, but my father fails to survive. After several moments, I am notified to participate in the funeral and I cries loudly with my mother. At first I could not understand why I cruelly set him to death during my dream, generally attributing this case as the manifestation of my parents’ personalities: my father being industrious but clumsy, while my mother being intelligent. (Like Homer and Marge) But deliberately, I noticed that it usually happens when my father actually stay at our city for quite long days. He is a good husband who has the will to spend time with his wife to have good experiences, and this really somewhat bothers the relationship between me and my mom. In fact, my mother fulfills my requests more often than my father does, and I am also biased to share some great experiences with her. Moreover, jealousy arises when she talks about my father’s advantages and expect me to act like him. According to Freud’s ideology, these stimuli, which could be regarded as Oedipus complex, prompt me to wish my father to receive a business and leave our city as soon as possible. If that wish comes true, I can take time to hang out with my mother.

 

References

Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature

The Interpretation of Dreams Journal 4

Though Freud asserts the dream is a wish-fulfilment, there are still some seemingly controversy over this argument, since not all people can perceive the wish hidden inside it. So Freud initially introduces the topic: “The anxiety-dream does really seem to preclude a generalization of the thesis … that dreams are wish-fulfilments, and even to condemn it as an absurdity.” (Chapter 4, P33) This sentence, though seems debunk Freud’s previous ideas, actually probes his innovative thought that there are some latent content of the dream remained undiscovered, disproving potential objections.

To further his opinion, he gives out his own dream as an example. In this dream, he describes his friend R., who is unable to upgrade his job because of his religious belief, as his intimate uncle and his appearance is featured with distinctiveness. But in reality, Freud’s uncle, with distinct outlook, is a poor man who is regarded as simpleton for his motivation to commit crime. Though the analyzable part of this dream is really succinct, there exists a lot of hidden information outside of consciousness. While this scheme is still unclear in respect to the interpretation because R. does not commit crime, he thinks about his friend N. who does not achieve greater title because of his criminal accusation, which is also related to religions. Eventually, this dream comes clear under Freud’s explanation: since there is a factor – religious belief – that influence the accomplishment of professorship, he dreams himself to be unaffected by it. That means, by making contrast, the dream actually forms a wish-fulfillment in which Freud himself could achieve better job than R. and N. through avoiding their disadvantages.

Looking back to this dream, there has great distortions that make it difficult to be interpreted, which as Freud proposes, is the people’s escapism of certain ideas that alters the expected content of the dream. “Wherever a wish-fulfilment is unrecognizable and disguised there must be present a tendency to defend oneself against this wish, and in consequence of this defense the wish is unable to express itself save in a distorted form.” (Chapter 4, P37) As a result, Freud links the distortions to consciousness that clearly manifest the existence of wish-fulfillment inside their mind even though it is oppressed by emotions. Furthermore, he points out there have “two psychic forces” (Chapter 4, P38) that illustrate personal attitudes toward their wishes. The first one is the content that shows wish-fulfillment, and the second one is like the trimmer of the content that distort the dream without any satisfactory aspects being added. This theory may be somewhat too metaphysical to be understood, but it improve the reliability of Freud’s claim that the seemingly painful experience of dreams is in part wish-fulfillment.

Through the analysis part of this chapter, Freud encounters a lot of individuals who discover their dreams contradict his claim but always explain some reasons for them, showing that his idea is still persuasive. These reasons include their anxiety of telling the truth, while it is to Freud’s logical deduction and imagination that propel the eureka moment of dream interpretation. “If we subject content to analysis, we become aware that the dream-anxiety is no more justified by the dream-content than the anxiety in a phobia is justified by the idea to which the phobia is attached.” (Chapter 4, P47)

I often have some difficulties with speaking clearly and fluently when I meet a stranger or need to do some important tasks. For instance, this is what I feel before going to be interviewed by a college officer to attend a summer session. At that time, I had heard Hynir, one of my best friends who shared many of my career interests, rejected by another institution. When I met with him, he said about his bad test scores and complained that the college should not care about them so much but rather focus more on his activities. I was shocked by his conversation because I also got scores that were not satisfactory. That night, I had a dream which was very frightening for me. In this dream, I saw all my classmates chasing me with anger. While I could not figure out what was going on that occasion, they yelled that I was too incompetent to even communicate with them effectively and get teacher’s appreciation, depressing their expectation.

Different from the usual dream which I had great joyful moments that really fulfill my wishes, I did not realize how this dream would mean to me. Maybe according to Freud’s opinion, this dream could have some connections with my upcoming interview and standardized test results. Since I found great similarities to Hynir, I identify with him in this dream, with the anxiety of being rejected by the college officer. On the other hand, the classmates could generally be some students wo were already been accepted by certain organizations I knew so far. Moreover, their speech, quite intimidating, warned me of my own disadvantageous situations. So there was actually a wish-fulfillment which I sought to avoid some factors such as speech-making and test scores that could partially determine whether I would be accepted.

Now I know that distortions of dream play a vital role in illustrating people’s unchangeable self-consciousness. Though these distortions are really confusing, they are widespread through humans’ feelings of anxiety. If we have better understanding of this phenomenon, just like Freud did, we could objectively face these stressful situations and come up with solutions wisely.

 

References

Freud, S. (1997) The Interpretation of Dreams (Wordsworth Edition.). New York, NY: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature