English Language and Literature


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Dreams and fantasies provide humans with a means of escape from everyday reality. According to Sigmund Freud, dreams carry one "off into another world" (Strachey, 1900, 7). Their aim is to free us from our everyday life (Burdach, 1838, 499) and to provide us with the opportunity to fantasize about how we would like our lives to be or to imagine our lives as worse than they are so that we can cope with our current situation. Dreams can also serve as wish-fulfillments, or the embodiments of fear (Strachey, 1900, 123). However, not all dreams occur in the unconscious; some occur in the conscious state as fantasies. The level of distraction individuals maintain between fantasy and reality can vary considerably. Sometimes, a person loses the ability to discern between reality and fantasy. Such a person may find their fantasies more appealing than their reality and begin to assign more significance to their fantasy lives than their immediate external realities. The fantasies of such imaginative escape artists often take various pieces of their lives and re-synthesize them in a way that helps them to deal with their problems. Branwell, Emily, and Charlotte Bronte all utilized this method; their literary imaginations became, for them, a means of escape to a better life. Their writings represent fantasies that have entered the conscious and have been expressed in a literary form. The fantasies of all three Brontes center on the theme of a great love lost due to circumstances beyond one's control. They had varying degrees of success with this method. Branwell and Emily lost touch with reality and became immersed in their fantasies; they died as a result of their inability to handle reality. Charlotte, on the other hand, was able to cope successfully with her experiences and used her fantasy as a healthy means of expressing her inner feelings.

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