Great Expectations

The Meaning of Dreams in Great Expectations

“Tell me your dreams for a while and I will tell you what you are really like.” Written by E.R. Pfaff in 1868, this proverb posits dreams as authentic manifestations of an individual’s identity and character. It makes two conclusions: 1) dreams are a very accurate measure of character 2) an outsider can know more about an individual’s character through the interpretation of his or her dreams than he or she can know about himself or herself. The proverb goes so far as to suggest that an individual’s dreams are the most revealing measure of personality, more revealing than actual life occurrences, than voluntary daydreams, than conversations with others, or than any other conventional means of judging character. “What you are really like,” is more accurately discerned by the contents, issues, longings, recurring themes, and other aspects of an individual’s dreams than by any other attempt to judge his or her character. This proverb also implicitly supposes that an individual’s personal opinion of his or her own character is biased and flawed, and that a more accurate depiction of character is constructed from outside interpretation of dreams. Written eight years prior to E.R. Pfaff’s proverb, Great Expectations is filled with...

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