Contents Index

Recovering Nightmares: Nineteenth-Century Gothic

Ronald Thomas

Chapter 2 of Dreams of Authority: Freud and the Fictions of the Unconscious (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1990), 71-135.

It is within the experience of many medical practitioners, that a patient, with strange and unusual symptoms, has been more distressed in mind, more wretched, from the fact of being unintelligible to himself and others, than from the pain or danger of the disease.
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
The high esteem in which dream-life is held by some schools of philosophy . . . is clearly an echo of the divine nature of dreams which was undisputed in antiquity. . . . For attempts at giving a psychological explanation have been inadequate to cover the material collected, however decidedly the sympathies of those of a scientific cast of mind may incline against accepting any such beliefs.
-- Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
The author of the first gothic novel in English traced the origin of his story to the recovery and writing down of a haunting dream that disturbed his sleep: "I waked one morning in the beginning of last June from a dream, of which all I could recover was, that I thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head filled like mine with Gothic story) and that on the uppermost banister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour. In the evening I sat down and began to write, without knowing in the least what I intended to say or relate."1 Here, at the beginning point of English gothic fiction, Horace Walpole joined the experience of dreaming with a question about authority. In recovering his dream, Walpole represented himself as being virtually compelled to write about something outside of his own knowledge and intention, as if he had been forced to write The Castle of Otranto (1764) in the strange, gigantic hand of his dream. Authors of many {72} subsequent gothic tales attributed their origins to dreams, often to emphasize a failure on the part of even the writers to understand and control the forces that drove their narratives. The stories frequently contain dreams as well, most often nightmarish dreams of demonic possession.2 Matthew Lewis's Monk (1796), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), and Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) all contain dreams of this kind, and the dreamer is invariably someone who suffers from a state of illness or divided personality that he or she can explain only as a form of supernatural possession.

These characteristics of the gothic novel make it an appropriate place for Freud to put into practice his project of replacing a divine interpretation of dreams with a scientific one. In fact, in Delusion and Dream Freud gave an elaborate analysis of the dreams in an early twentieth-century gothic novel, Wilhelm Jensen's Gradiva. Even though Gradiva, like most gothic fiction, contains many reports of ghostly visitations, Freud did not regard it as a ghost story at all. He called the novel nothing less than "an entirely correct study in psychiatry, by which we may measure our understanding of psychic life, a story of illness and cure which seems designed for the inculcation of certain fundamental teachings of medical psychology" (Delusion and Dream, 64). Freud marveled that the author had somehow "acquired the same knowledge as the physician," or at least "behave[d] as if he possessed it" (77). He particularly admired the remarkable ways in which Jensen seemed to anticipate the talking cure by treating the protagonist's speech and his dreams as symptoms of a delusion, by tracing these symptoms back to their origins, and by effecting a "concurrence of explanation and cure" in the articulation of those origins (110-14). Freud could only conclude that "science leaves a gap which we find filled" by this "story of illness and cure" -- the same gap Freud himself sought to fill with his theories of dream interpretation (75).

Several other nineteenth-century gothic novels also anticipated the claims of psychoanalysis, especially the concern with replacing supernatural explanations for delusional formations such as dreams with scientific -- even medical -- explanations. Although the dreamers of these novels may not always be "cured" by their explanations, they consistently call attention to the symptomatic aspects of the words they use to describe their dreams. Like {73} Jensen's Gradiva, these novels expose a gap in scientific knowledge which needed to be filled by a language that would enable the dreamer's recovery, and they go some distance in helping to fill that gap as well.

The importance that Freud placed upon attributing dreams to the psychic health of the dreamer rather than to some divine intervention is evident in the very beginning of The Interpretation of Dreams, where he lines up the forces engaged in the nineteenth-century debate over the significance of dream experience. In reviewing the current literature on the subject, Freud concluded that the two basic theories then prevailing were not new but already established in the ancient world. On one side were positivists who, like Aristotle, maintained that dreams "do not rise from supernatural manifestations but follow the laws of the human spirit." On the other side were idealists of various kinds who, like Plato, thought of the dream "not as a product of the dreaming mind but as something introduced by a divine agency; and already," Freud goes on to say, "the two opposing currents, which we shall find influencing dream life at every point in history, were making themselves felt" (2-3). These same currents also made themselves felt in the gothic fiction of the nineteenth century. Frankenstein, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and Wuthering Heights, and the dreams in them present themselves through both story and discourse as neurotic symptoms, as attempts at "recovery" centered in the conflict between supernatural and psychological explanations for the uncanny experience of dreaming. At stake for the gothic hero or heroine in this conflict is the recognition of the powerful influence of irrational impulses on behavior and the need to take control over those impulses. The very rise of the gothic novel as a genre may be read as an attempt to recover or reconstruct an account of psychic life in the face of supernatural accounts whose inadequacy was becoming more and more apparent. Even more to the point, these texts expose how supernatural explanations of such events often mask a repressed pathological struggle rooted very firmly in the powers of this world.

The extensive theoretical writing on dreams during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was generally directed against supernatural explanations for psychic disturbances. Characteristically, the scholarship took one of two courses: dream theory either deferred to an idealism that tried to rationalize the supernatural element of dreams by attributing them to something like a world soul or collective unconscious, or it sought to explain dreams as purely physiological phenomena that did not reveal anything profoundly important about the dreamer.3 As the most systematic and comprehensive theory of {74} dreams in the period, Freud's Interpretation of Dreams offered a third course. For Freud, dreams were neither the manifestations of possession by some spiritual power nor the result of normal somatic processes during sleep. Rather, dreams were to be regarded as symptoms of a neurosis in the dreamer, evidence of a psychic wound or illness. But in regarding the dream as a symptom Freud did not think of it as a "pathological product"; on the contrary, he saw the dream, like any other delusion formation, as "an attempt at recovery, a process of reconstruction."4

The common association of physical and psychic illnesses with the dreams and dreamers of gothic fiction suggests some continuity with Freud's description of the dream as a symptom. The rise of gothic fiction during the latter part of the eighteenth century and its flowering during the nineteenth may in fact be read as a symptom on a cultural scale, an expression of a desire for a vocabulary by which to name and control psychic forces in terms of pathology rather than theology. Freud himself offers a direct point of contact between the two discourses not only in his commentary on Gradiva but also in his remarkable essay "A Neurosis of Demoniacal Possession in the Seventeenth Century." There Freud analyzes a case of alleged demonic possession which had been recorded in a form strikingly like that of a gothic novel. As is true of such gothic tales as Frankenstein, Melmoth, Justified Sinner, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula, for example, the material for this case consists of several documents written in the first person. A series of captioned drawings by the "patient" (who in this instance is a painter) depict his signing of a pact with the devil and his redemption at the shrine of the Holy Mother. Those drawings are combined with a description of the case by a "reverend compiler" (who also includes some lines in verse which contain information about his own life), a deposition by an abbot testifying to the authenticity of the documents, and finally the diary of the patient, which chronicles his possession and exorcism. Freud takes particular interest in the complex textual issues of the case -- the contradictions between the pictures and the painter's verbal accounts of them, the inconsistencies within the diary itself, the variations in wording of the patient's two written pacts with the devil, the compiler's attempts at textual reconciliation, and so on. The function of Freud's analysis is to add still another text of reconciliation or reconstruction, a "final" attempt to piece together the inconsistencies by substituting a story of neurosis for one of possession.

{75} Freud clearly took up the case in order to demonstrate how phenomena perceived in medieval times as demonic dreams, visions, and possessions could be explained in terms of repressed impulses and psychic forces. "We merely eliminate the projection of these mental entities into the external world," he says; "instead, we regard them as having arisen in the patient's internal life, where they have their abode."5 But Freud's analysis does much more. His translation of the incident from a theological into a medical vocabulary dramatizes exactly what is dramatized in the dreams of many gothic texts: fundamentally, dreams and visions are sites of interpretive power where dreamers are actually attempting to resist or surrender to the notion that an authority from the outside is governing their lives. Furthermore, these struggles for authority take place on the level of language -- in the giving or withholding of a dream account. In both cases, dreams and visions must be seen as symptoms that serve as attempts at recovery, and thus are actions taken by the dreamer, not actions taking him or her over from the outside. Like the case Freud analyzes here, gothic fiction commonly evidences this assertion of authority in the production of the texts themselves -- in the writing of pacts in blood, in the retraction of those pacts through confession and exorcism, in the revision of inconsistencies to preserve the authority of the church, and most important, in the patient's composition of a diary that seeks to bring together the fragmented pieces of a life threatened by a divine or demonic usurpation.

This particular case has a special fascination and significance for Freud since he is able to trace the patient's morbid anxiety to the recent death of his father and the paralyzing melancholia that resulted from this loss of parental authority. Not only does this scenario follow the pattern of Freud's own experience in writing The Interpretation of Dreams, but it corresponds to the set of forces commonly operating in the gothic novel as well -- problems of inheritance, incest, parricide, entombment, ghostly hauntings from the past, and so on. In Freud's view, this patient never fully recovered from his neurosis because he never recognized his visions as symptoms of this anxiety. Rather, he merely substituted one form of "possession" for another, replacing his father's authority first with that of the devil, then with that of the church. "He wanted all along simply to make his life secure. He tried first to achieve this with the help of the devil at the cost of his salvation; and when this failed and had to be given up, he tried to achieve it with the help of the clergy at the cost of his freedom and most of the possibilities of enjoyment in life" (104). This failed self-recognition in the desperate attempt to find the "security" of some transcendent authority is the fate of many gothic dreamers as well, and it reflects a larger crisis of authority in the nineteenth {76} century -- a crisis of which the rise of the gothic novel is itself a symptom.

The acceptance of a secular interpretation of dreams as originating in the individual psyche demands that the dreamer be the source of the significance as well as the haunting images of the dream. Any authority the dream might have for the dreamer is based upon her or his own recognition of it as a self-portrayal, rather than a revelation from the divine world. If, as T. S. Eliot claimed, one consequence of this assumption is that the "quality of our dreams suffers," another consequence is that the quality of the dreamer's account of the dreams becomes that much more important.6 In many gothic texts, acts of self-representation are presented as acts of self-discovery and healing, and acts of secrecy or repression are part of a pattern of illness and psychic disturbance. When the narrator of Justified Sinner complains of having "such dreams that they will not bear repetition," for example, he either fails to understand that his refusal to repeat his dreams keeps him "troubled" and "enchained" by them, or he admits that he wants to maintain his illusions about himself by censoring the thoughts that are behind the dreams.7 Stories like this narrator's consistently dramatize how dreams take shape and reveal themselves as symptoms only when they are put into words and connected with the dreamer's waking life.

This conflict between the "two opposing currents" of dream interpretation divided Freud from Jung more subtly than from his other opponents. Though Jung shared Freud's conviction that the dream was essentially a self-portrayal by the dreamer, he maintained that dreams had a higher, objective value as well. Jung's interest in symbol and archetype led him to conceive of the dream as transcending the personal ego and participating in a historical pattern external and inexplicable to the self. For Jung, the symbolic content of the dream had its own value and meaning, which could not be imposed by the individual dreamer. Ultimately, that symbolic significance was inexpressible in words: "A symbol does not define or explain," he said; "it points beyond itself to a meaning that is darkly divined yet still beyond our gasp, and cannot be adequately expressed in the familiar words of our language."8 Jung's use of theological language is significant here, and this kind of statement fundamentally distinguishes him from Freud, who argued that dreams are nothing more than our symptomatically disguised desires, which we can understand and control only when we translate them into the "familiar words of our language."

{77} Jung's views represented a compromise between the traditional religious belief that dreams have their origins and significance in a realm "higher" than the dreamer and the more scientific and biological orientation of Freud, who related them to the personal life history of the dreamer. But as Freud indicated, what he regarded as an entirely "pre-scientific" viewpoint was not without its adherents in the nineteenth century, not only the "pietistic and mystical writers" of the period but a number of "clear-headed men" as well: "It would be a mistake to suppose that the theory of the supernatural origin of dreams is without its supporters in our own day," Freud cautioned in The Interpretation of Dreams. "One comes across clear-headed men, without any extravagant ideas, who seek to support their religious faith in the existence and activity of superhuman spiritual forces precisely by the inexplicable nature of the phenomena of dreaming" (4). In this latter category Freud placed P. Haffner, Friedrich Schelling, and Johann Fichte, who saw dreams either as representative of some "complementary" reality, as "divine in nature," or simply as separate in important ways from waking life. Freud consistently made it a point to associate such views with the demands of religious faith and to oppose them to a truly "scientific" attitude of mind. While such claims may have overstated the case, these thinkers did consider dreams to be part of some complex of forces outside the spheres of rational and empirical inquiry, forces that we conventionally align with the gothic and romantic strain of nineteenth-century literature.

But the role of the dream in gothic fiction is much more complicated than that. The gothic use of dreams may be more properly understood as expressing the uneasy tension in the period between scientific and religious explanations of dream experience. The dreamers in these stories tend to be wounded figures suffering from some physical and psychological disturbance and some visionary experience that they commonly explain in terms of the supernatural. Those explanations, however, usually contend in the text with a desire for a more "psychological" explanation that connects the dream to some undisclosed repressed material, some traumatic experience, or some crisis in authority experienced by the dreamer. The conflict between these two viewpoints becomes apparent when the dreamer chooses either to convert the dream event into the common words of our language or to submit it to the uncommon language of the divine.

One of the more dramatic fictional examples of this situation occurs in Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla (1870). The narrative begins with a terrifying dream experience recounted by the young woman who narrates the story. In her dream she is visited by a female figure who first comforts and caresses her until the dreamer feels a terrible pain in her breasts. Then the dream figure disappears beneath the bed. The narrator, Laura, initially dreams this dream as a child, and it provokes a nervous disorder from which she never entirely recovers. The dreams continue, and they develop into a series of {78} voices that haunt the narrator in her dreams; one of these she recognizes as the voice of her mother mysteriously warning her to avoid her "assassin" (308). The warning seems not only to refer to the father in the tale but also to reinforce the sense that these dreams are efforts toward recovery and self-preservation on the part of the dreamer. She is told by various authorities that these dreams are either visitations of evil spirits, the product of a fever in the body, or finally, the haunting of a vampire. Eventually, her father destroys this monster and presumably solves the mystery, appropriately, in an old Gothic church.

But since the destruction of the supposed vampire does not cure the narrator's illness or alleviate her recurring dreams, this supernatural explanation is called into doubt. That the trauma of the childhood dream had obliterated Laura's memory of everything that preceded it strongly suggests that the dream serves as an agency of repression for her and her father as well.9 Her dreams are also continually associated with the loss of her dead mother (whom Laura cannot remember), with the awakening of her own sexuality, and with the domination of her life by her father. Together with the father's repeated attempts to dismiss the significance of the dreams and to obscure crucial events in Laura's past, these details indicate that her dreams may screen the memory of a childhood seduction or primal scene. But these "symptoms" are never fully understood in Carmilla because they are never allowed to be expressed. Rather, they remain unrecovered, uninterpreted memories for the patient, who is still plagued by her dreams, her illness, and her overbearing father at the end of the story.

Like William Godwin's Adventures of Caleb Williams or like Melmoth, Justified Sinner, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, and many other gothic tales, Carmilla represents a narrator's attempt to recover from a disordered state -- a condition that not only is often physically debilitating but proves to be psychologically crippling as well. This disability almost invariably takes the form of a loss of personal control, a usurpation, a denial, or a willing abandonment of personal authority over and responsibility for one's actions. States of dream, trance, madness, and possession provide the appropriate psychological conditions to investigate (or explain away) this problem. Typically, this project takes place in complex, embedded narratives that serve both to suggest the buried psychological origins of dreamlike materials and to designate the dynamics of the telling as essential to understanding the meaning of the condition. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), for example, represents a further development of the plot and structure of a typical gothic text such as Carmilla. Count Dracula's victims can never clearly distinguish their own dreams from the vampire's nocturnal visitations. The dreamers embed {79} their dreams in a strange legend composed of their own diaries, journals, case histories, letters, medical reports, telegrams, newspaper stories, and the transcripts of phonograph recordings made by a doctor about his patients, all of which are employed to project the dreamers' fears and desires onto an exotic, monstrous ghoul as an alternative to accepting them as symptoms of their own psychic disturbances.

These gothic novels anticipate many of the features of Freud's speaking cure and his emphasis on rendering an account of the images of our dreams in the familiar words of our language. But by also continuing to evoke the atmosphere and rationale of the supernatural in these tales -- even if sometimes discrediting supernatural explanations as strategies of denial or repression -- gothic fiction reenacted the debate that raged in England throughout the nineteenth century over the source and significance of dreams. Fashionable groups of secular and religious spiritualists argued that dreams were miraculous events that permitted communication with a divine realm, while positivist theorists maintained that dreams were explainable phenomena governed by natural law.10 The scientific community in England was most deeply influenced by the theories of the rationalists of the previous century, who based their description of dreams on the laws of association, the effects on the mind of recent sense impressions and ideas, and the state of the body during sleep. This positivistic tradition was carried forward into the nineteenth century by such theorists as Dugaid Stewart (Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, 1814) and Robert Macnish (The Philosophy of Sleep, 1838), and later others in England, including F. W. H. Myers and James Sully, who began to look more seriously at the psychological significance of dreams and to suggest the importance of what Freud would later identify as the unconscious.

Myers is a particularly interesting figure for the period, since he founded the Society for Psychical Research in order to oppose the tide of positivist thought in England and on the Continent. He maintained that positivist explanations of strange psychic events such as dreams and schizophrenia were often reductive and tended to minimize, manipulate, or ignore evidence that was contrary to their theories. His organization collected thousands of case studies and first-person reports of mysterious dreams, visions, telepathy, sleepwalking, and related occurrences, concluding that this sort of experience proved the immortality of the human soul. In his influential book Human Personality (1903), Myers cogently expressed the characteristic double vision of the scientific and literary communities in the nineteenth century: "The permanent result of a dream, I say, is sometimes such as to show that the {80} dream has not been a mere superficial confusion of past waking experiences, but has had an unexplained potency of its own, -- drawn like the potency of hypnotic suggestion, from some depth in our being which the waking self cannot reach."11 In a gesture typical of nineteenth-century ambivalence on the subject, Meyers simultaneously emphasizes the importance of explaining the hidden logic of the dream and the impossibility of doing so, comparing the dream logic to the mysterious "potency" of hypnotic suggestion. Like Jung, he forges a fragile compromise between the dictates of science and those of religion. The gothic novel of the period poses the issue more decisively: the dreams and their recollections are the sites of a struggle to gain authority over the self through language. At stake is a necessary choice between conceiving of the psyche as a supernatural soul facing damnation or redemption, on the one hand, and a medical subject capable of illness or recovery, on the other. Despite certain equivocations, however, figures like Myers and Sully anticipate the claims of psychoanalytic theory more faithfully when they trace dreams back to both immediate and distant memories and find them to be inextricably associated with current wakeful thoughts. These considerations also parallel the gothic preoccupation with the problems entailed in remembering and representing dream experience and in distinguishing it from waking life. Eventually, Freud would respond to this confusion raised independently by scientists such as Sully and Myers and novelists such as Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte. The realization that conscious thoughts "will be apt to be unconsciously read back into the dream" and become part of the dreamer's memory of the dream is transformed by Freud into a form of confusion which contributes to, rather than detracts from, understanding the significance of a dream.12 For him, the language of disguise becomes the language of revelation, at once a symptom of psychic distress and a sign of psychic recovery.

The dream accounts that permeate Frankenstein, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and Wuthering Heights anticipate this interpretive turn. They are all told by a narrator recovering from some illness or disabling event, and they all express a profound psychological conflict. Not only do these three texts offer a representative range of gothic conventions, they also foreground an essential characteristic of the genre: the narratives exist primarily as symptoms of an attempt to recover from a disordered state of mind which is most dramatically manifested in the narrator's dreams.13 Frankenstein began as the "waking dream" [Introduction 10] of Mary Shelley, which she proceeded to turn into a {81} "ghost story" [Introduction 6] for her husband and friends during a holiday in Switzerland. But most of the text itself takes the form of a deathbed narrative told by an ailing scientist trying to explain away his own obsessive dream as a form of demonic possession. Thomas DeQuincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater recounts its narrator's recovery from a paralyzing illness and addiction to opium, and it is written to "display the marvelous agency" of the dreams associated with that illness as well as to recover the dreamer's health (114). The Confessions demands attention not only because of its importance for the medical literature on dreams in the period but also because of its thematic and formal affinities with the gothic and autobiographical novel.14 Finally, the uncanny, disturbing events of Wuthering Heights can be said to grow out of the bewildering nightmares of its narrator who is stricken ill at the beginning of the tale and is nursed back to health during the course of it. His dreams seem mysteriously and irresistibly to connect him to the other dreams and dreamers in the story and to compel him to question his own authority over his experience, just as they do.

In each of these cases, the giving of the dream account is not only a part of the recovery from an illness but also a literal act of authorship -- the production of a text. Beneath the manifest plots of these novels, then, is another plot -- a plot of "recovery" or "reconstruction" that determines the narrative structure of the texts and reveals the attitudes that the narrators take toward the materials they dream and write about. These plots take a different form in each of the books, reflecting fundamentally different responses to the crisis of personal authority which haunted the period. But of central concern to all of them is the attempt to discover an appropriate language with which to represent and master the unsettling experience of their dreams. As Freud said of Gradiva, these gothic novels were all "working over the same material" that he would theorize about. They were merely using "a different method" to express it (Delusion and Dream, 117).

Demons and Disease in Frankenstein

I had retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time and exchanged the discoveries of recent enquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists. [1.2.5]

-- Victor Frankenstein.
{82}Frankenstein is an extended, elaborate account of its author's remarkable dream. In her description of the dream in the Author's Introduction to the novel, Mary Shelley equivocates about the exact nature of the experience. She regards her dream, on the one hand, as something she created -- as the product of her own "imagination" and "fancy." But on the other hand, she refers to it as an alien presence -- as "the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow," a "phantom" that "possessed" and "haunted" her.15 These two very different characterizations signal one of the central issues of the novel into which Shelley transposed her dream. The language with which Victor Frankenstein speaks about his own dream reveals the extent to which he is willing to take responsibility for his desires and actions. The connection between Mary Shelley's dream and Frankenstein's is made explicit when the author places the manifest content of her dream into a scene in the novel in which Frankenstein himself awakens from a dream only to be confronted with its terrible reality. Paradoxically, whereas Mary Shelley immediately transformed her dream into her "ghost story," the dreamer within the tale struggles through most of his story to keep his dream from being told. Frankenstein is, then, an elaborate weaving together of the activities of dreaming, invention, repression, and storytelling. It links by means of a dream event the issues of personal origin, authority, and power in a manner that establishes this novel as a myth of self-making for the dreamers that pervade nineteenth-century fiction. The gothic novel Mary Shelley called the "transcript" of her dream may be read as a symptom a text that expresses the desire for an adequate language to describe the mysterious forces that produced it.

Frankenstein is a story about storytelling, as its dependence upon and allusions to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" attest. Critics often note that Frankenstein is not a single story but a complex of stories, one embedded within another, and that the relationship among these Chinese-box narratives is important for understanding the novel.16 But it should also be noted {83} that the novel is not only a collection of stories; it is also a collection of personal documents that contain stories -- letters, journals, diaries, notes, transcripts, and so on. We are constantly reminded of these components by a number of devices and events within the text: the epistolary notations and conventions of Walton, the presentation by the monster of the DeLaceys' correspondence as evidence to prove his case, Frankenstein's subsequent handing over of those letters to Walton, the monster's discovery of his origins in Frankenstein's journal, Clerval's reproof of Frankenstein for failing to write to his family, and finally, Frankenstein's insistence that the notes made by Walton be "corrected and augmented" so that a "mutilated" version of himself not be passed on to "posterity" (207). This repeated representation of the narratives as sources of power underscores their value for their possessors. Moreover, such events as Frankenstein's demand to edit his own story, his fear of mutilation by Walton's narrative, and his terror of the influence of the monster's story reveal the relationship among the various narratives as one of conflict.

What is often ignored about these documents is that the first piece of the narrative fabric is not Walton's letters but Mary Shelley's introduction. Although it was added more than a decade after the first publication of the novel, the introduction becomes the beginning of the tale, since it presents, as Mary Shelley says, an "account of the origin of the story" (222). It is as if the telling of this story of authorial origin were the purpose for which the entire text was written -- its end as well as its beginning. In a novel that tells a whole series of conflicting dreams of origin, this dream account takes its place as the fundamental one and provides an interpretive frame for the others. It both surrounds the other tales as their source and forms their center as well. Like the accounts given in the novel by Walton, Frankenstein, and the monster, Mary Shelley's account of the origin and authorship of the story is also an account of the origin and authorship of herself. Each successive narrator within the novel begins his tale as Mary Shelley begins her introduction -- by recounting certain crucial facts about his childhood, his parentage, and the origin of his desires. At the heart of Shelley's introduction to her tale, is her dream about another dreamer who awakens to find his dream real, but at the margins, she provides the provocative dream thoughts that compose that dream: an autobiographical sketch of her own childhood, an account of her development as a writer who was the "daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity," and a view of the ordeal she struggled through as the wife of another literary celebrity to achieve the narrative authority necessary to "create the novel she called "my hideous progeny" (222, 229).

This paradigmatic story of authorship and competition is essential to understanding the role of dreams in Frankenstein: Mary Shelley begins it with a description of herself as a child -- a child distinguished by an impor- {84} tant pair of attributes: she liked to "write stories" and to "indulge" in "waking dreams" (222). Here at the very outset, she indicates that her writing was always at odds with and inferior to her dreaming. "My dreams were at once more fantastic and agreeable than my writings," she claimed. In her writing, she laments, she was merely "a close imitator -- rather doing as others had done than putting down the suggestions of my own mind" (222-23). Though she could assert, "My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody," she had to admit that her writing was not her own (223). Such statements pinpoint an essential conflict in the mind of the young Mary Shelley. The constraint she experienced as a writer made her an imitator rather than an author, while in her more authentic dream experience she was unfettered by any precedent or pattern. It was as if Mary Shelley's dreams themselves were potential narratives that contended with the existing rival narratives of her predecessors which governed her imagination. Those dreams remained suppressed during her childhood, "accounted for" to nobody, stories that were unrealized because they were never told. This narrative conformity has special significance for Shelley in light of her earlier references in the introduction to her parents as accomplished writers and the complicated admiration she would subsequently express for Percy and Byron as her rivals in storytelling.17

Following this piece of self-analysis about her literary heritage, Shelley relates the well-known incident in Switzerland which led directly to the writing of Frankenstein. She mentions Byron's proposal that each of his guests "write a ghost story," a suggestion posed immediately after they had together read a gothic tale in which the ghost of "the sinful founder" of a family returned to kill all the sons of his ill-fated house (224). Then, in recounting the invention of her own ghost story, Shelley describes the project in competitive terms, speaking of her desire "to rival those which had excited us to the task" (225-26). By juxtaposing the traditional gothic tale of a deadly threat from the past with her own desire to "rival" such a tale, Shelley introduces the notion of contending narratives which becomes a characteristic of her story -- the struggle for authority and originality which is a contest not only for narrative competence but for the right of self-definition. The author's rivalry here seems to be not only with past writers but specifically {85} with the writers of patriarchal tales, a culture of fathers who rival and threaten their own sons and daughters.18

The implication is reinforced by Mary's account of her painful struggle trying to compose her story in the context of the embarrassment she felt as a "silent listener" to the tales of Byron and Percy (227). "I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship," she says (226). This sense of authorial competition is also present later in the introduction when Mary makes a "declaration" that Percy had nothing to do with the content or feeling of the novel, except for the preface, which, "as far as I can recollect," she concedes, was "entirely written by him" (229). The story itself, however, was entirely written by her.19 The culmination of this conflict and of Shelley's account of the origins of her story occurs when she relates her climactic "waking dream" of an "artist" and inventor: "I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. . . . He sleeps; but he is awakened; he opens his eyes; behold, the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains and looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes" (228). After giving this account, Shelley then tells how much her dream terrified her and how she managed to conquer that fear, implicitly recognizing her dream as a symptom of her failure as an author, prescribing that she give an account of it to cure her of its horror: "Swift as light and as cheering was the idea that broke upon me. 'I have found it! What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow.' On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the words, It was on a dreary night of November, making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream" (228). By putting her dream into words, she transforms it from the alien "spectre" that haunted her into her waking dream and the story she conceived. This act also transforms her from a silent listener into a powerful -- even terrifying -- narrator. She has realized that the terrified has the power to terrify. Finally, the dream reveals to Mary Shelley that the conflict she had earlier posed between her dreams and her writing could be resolved only by uniting them, by making her writing out of her dreams. By recognizing her dream as her own production and as something she had herself imagined -- as a "thing" she had "put together" -- she established herself as an author rather than an imitator of others.20

{86} Two important aspects of this introductory dream account explicitly connect it with the major concerns of Frankenstein. First, like the story of Frankenstein, the account of Mary Shelley's dream relates the activity of dreaming to the recovery from a state of psychological paralysis through an act of "invention," a recollection of personal "origins," and the "creating" of something new "out of chaos" (226). Second, the content of Shelley's dream is transplanted into the novel at a point when Frankenstein -- a man of speculative science and a failed student of medicine -- awakes from a disturbing dream, discovers that the project that had been his "dream" now terrifies and repulses him, and perceives his own work as a supernatural possession that he must keep secret. His refusal to tell his story here is as significant as Mary Shelley's insistence on telling hers.21 The original version of the novel as told to Lord Byron and Percy Shelley was, in fact, described by Mary Shelley as "only a transcript" of her dream. Since the entire novel that emerges from that transcript is a series of stories told by someone to someone else, Victor Frankenstein's elaborate act of narrative repression must be regarded as unnatural indeed.22

George Levine has remarked that the "realism" and "secularity" of Frankenstein are evidenced by the lack of supernatural content in Victor's dream. Levine places the author of Frankenstein in the tradition of such nineteenth-century thinkers as Darwin, Freud, Marx, and Feuerbach, whose common project it was "to discover in matter what we had previously attributed to spirit."23 This phrase accurately describes both what Frankenstein attempts in creating his monster and what Mary Shelley attempts in transcribing her dream. The gothic customarily deals with a situation more like the one summarized in Shelley's introduction, in which a curse or a secret from the past returns to the present to assert its power in the form of a ghost or specter. But Frankenstein is the account of a curse that springs from the inside rather than the outside of a man, and then recoils on him with the {87} greater violence because he permits it to remain a specter. On the one hand, Frankenstein is a story of a man's self-authorship and self-determination rather than his determination by some conspiracy of the past or by supernatural forces beyond his control. On the other hand, it is a story about a man who denies just this self-creation. Critics have commonly spoken of the supernatural events in gothic fiction as allegories for psychological phenomena.24 But Frankenstein differs from this pattern in that it presents dreams as quite clearly humanly generated and then has their self-deceived dreamers speak of them in supernatural terms. Frankenstein succeeds by exposing a dreamer's failure to understand the psychological significance of his own dreams and by expressing the need for a new explanatory discourse through which to interpret those dreams. This feature of the novel is not so much a critique of nineteenth-century ideologies of self-authorship and self-assertion as it is a demand for more appropriate terms in which to express that ideology.

Even though Frankenstein is almost continuously sick in body and mind from the moment he creates his monster, he does not recognize that the monster is not only the embodiment of his dream; it is a symptom of a neurotic condition that he must understand and from which he must recover. After the monster murders Frankenstein's most beloved friend, Clerval, Frankenstein is again stricken by a fever in which his whole past life appears to him as a "frightful dream" (180-81). In the course of his "recovery from the fever," Frankenstein describes himself as being "possessed" by frightening dreams that figure his psychological paralysis and connect it with a failure to articulate: "My dreams presented a thousand objects that scared me. Towards morning I was possessed by a kind of nightmare; I felt the fiend's grasp in my neck, and could not free myself from it; groans and cries rung in my ears. My father, who was watching over me . . . awoke me" (181). With each death of a loved one, the pattern is repeated. Frankenstein becomes ill and plagued by dreams of his monster, dreams that he describes as demonic possessions. Then he is nursed back to health by another intimate, a parental figure from whom he keeps the dream-monster a secret for fear of being declared mad.25 Finally, that very person becomes a potential victim of the violence of Frankenstein's repressed nightmare. Walton is his last nurse and his final auditor, and the entire novel becomes the tale of repression the scientist relates to the navigator. As Victor finally fails to "recover" through telling his tale, Walton is placed in danger as well. He too risks becoming a {88} casualty of Frankenstein's nightmare. Though Frankenstein has finally revealed his secret to someone, he never makes the vital connections among the dream, his illness, and the monster; so he dies in his sickbed with his dream still presiding over him.

Frankenstein's manmade man functions both literally and figuratively as his dream in the novel, even in his own account. The monster is at first presented as the embodiment of Frankenstein's desires, his grand romantic dreams and aspirations; it is his remaking of himself. But as such, the monster is also his failure to deal with himself as he is, and the dream therefore becomes a nightmare to him as soon as it becomes a reality. "Now that I had finished," he concedes upon first seeing the creature he had made, "the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart" (52-53). Frankenstein immediately seeks refuge from his accomplishment in sleep ("to seek a few moments of forgetfulness"), but his sleep is disturbed by "the wildest dreams," which awaken him and remind him of the monster's reality: "Dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space, were now become a hell to me" (53-54). His desire to forget the implications of his dream enables it to imprison him and results in a chronic state of mental illness, which even he refers to as "the sickness of fear" (54). Frankenstein's refusal to face the psychological realities behind his dream, however, give the monster a power over him and lead him to continue dreaming in a literal and obsessive way. As Frankenstein's repressed story of himself, the monster is driven to violence only by Frankenstein's continual attempts to maintain its secrecy. When we first meet Frankenstein he is, like the Ancient Mariner to whom he compares himself, anxious to tell his tale. But the narrative he offers to Walton actually chronicles his continued, calculated suppression of that narrative. His story, then, is at least implicitly a confession of this narrative failure, an admission of his long resistance to offering his story and taking control of his own life and dreams. It is also an acknowledgment of his abandonment of science for superstition. "I had retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time," Frankenstein admits, "and exchanged the discoveries of recent enquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists" (from the 1831 text, 241).

The cost of this exchange of knowledge for dream is most dramatically registered at the crucial moment in the novel when Frankenstein tries to escape the reality of his completed dream project in sleep, only to be confronted by that reality in the form of another dream. This is also the place where Shelley has placed the "transcript" of her own dream of authority, calling attention to it as the crucial moment of narrative opportunity for the dreamer. What seems most important about the dream is that it occurs when it does -- just as Frankenstein finishes his invention, when "the beauty of the dream vanished" and he is attempting to repress its reality. His dream is conspicuously not about the monster he has made, at least not in its manifest {89} content, but his desire to repress the monster distorts its representation in revealing ways:

I slept indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I started from my sleep in horror. (53)
The dream is not about the fiend Frankenstein has made but about the fiend he has made of himself. Yet the dream encodes the sense that the monster is Frankenstein, that Frankenstein's dream is his symptom. Frankenstein directly causes Elizabeth's transformation from a woman "in the bloom of health" to a corpse shrouded in graveclothes. He is the source of a deadly illness. Elizabeth dies, he tells Walton, "as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips." Both his mother and his fiancee, his past and his future, are conflated into a single image of betrayal and death at the instant his desire is expressed in the form of the "imprinted" kiss. The dream appears to contain both a memory of guilt for the death of his mother and a prophecy of guilt for the murder of Elizabeth, merged in an image of the grave -- the place where the pieces of his own invention originated. That both figures in the dream are female, that they are his own mother and the potential mother of his children, also suggests a subconscious awareness of the horror of his desire to create a man by himself -- without a mother. Feminist critics have regarded this feature of the dream as symptomatic of Frankenstein's patriarchal exclusivity, which seeks to devalue and eradicate women even in the area of sexual reproduction. But Victor's preoccupation might also be read as yet another manifestation of his battle against just this sort of social authority, in this case as it is manifested in the restrictive controls exerted on him by the conventional family structure.26

Frankenstein had said of his monster in the course of making it that he "desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation" (52). The dream shows that Victor's immoderate desire to be a self-made man has required him figuratively to murder his family and lover, to eliminate the traces of his "natural" origins. In the remainder of the novel, this dream will become a {90} reality. As Frankenstein stifles the expression and interpretation of the dream, he will gradually eliminate all the people in his life who might inhibit his self-mastery in any way. Earlier, Frankenstein admits that he "forgot" his friends and neglected "all that related to my feelings of affection until the great object . . . should be completed" (50). This neglect denies him the very intimacy that the monster so deeply desires. The result is that Victor becomes "oppressed by a slow fever" and "nervous to a most painful degree" just before the monster is completed. Then he dreams his terrible dream (51). But even though he is a man of science, Victor views his dream as a visitation from another world, a "spectre," a "fiend," and a "demon" -- "my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave" (72). He still will not recognize it as a symptom of his disordered state of mind.

Frankenstein's repeated use of supernatural language to describe psychological conditions signals a linguistic crisis that the novel enacts. Victor presents himself as a scientist committed to a scientific world view, and yet he continues to represent his achievements in debased theological terms. The use of such language not only indicates Frankenstein's refusal to take responsibility for his own creation but also reveals his desire to replace divine authority with his own. His representation of himself to Walton can be read as a text in which these two vocabularies come into conflict. Frankenstein is a scientist, but he seeks to create "a new species" that would "bless" him as "its creator and source" (49). His approach to science does not demystify a superstitious world view. It only mystifies science. The young Frankenstein's fascination with mystical and occult practices exposes this internal conflict early in his career. He is attracted by the "unlimited powers" of science rather than by any truth about the world or about himself which science might teach him. He pursues those powers, he says, with "an almost supernatural enthusiasm" (42, 46). One of his more modern and realistic professors advised Frankenstein that the essential task of modern science was "to give new names" to the knowledge the occult scientists had articulated (43). But Frankenstein keeps resorting to the old names, especially in describing his own state of mind. Despite his commitment to science, Frankenstein fails to realize what Mary Shelley realizes in her introduction: in the modern world, human beings are not spoken to in dreams; they are speaking to themselves. The dream does not invade the dreamer; it is invented by the dreamer.

Frankenstein completes his first grand project of defying heaven and making a man very early in his narrative. At that point he commences his second project, which occupies much more of the novel and is perhaps an even more ambitious enterprise: suppressing the reality of his first accomplishment. Once "the beauty of the dream vanished," Frankenstein attempts to disown it. His determined suppression of the story of his nightmarish creation evidences itself right at the outset, on the morning after he awakes {91} from his dream and encounters the monster once more in his room, this time in the presence of his friend Clerval. When Clerval implores Frankenstein to tell him what has caused his obvious disturbance of mind, Frankenstein responds with a reproof: "Do not ask me." Then, imagining he sees the "dreaded spectre" before him, Frankenstein gestures wildly at it, screaming to Clerval, "he can tell," as he falls into another fit of unconsciousness (56).

This is the first of Frankenstein's many refusals to own his dream and the first time he explicitly identifies the monster as a potential teller of a tale. Indeed, Frankenstein comes to fear this threat more than any other, and it is the monster's tale that he struggles most intensely to suppress. His repeated warnings to Walton to avoid listening to any tale told by the persuasive monster are central features of Frankenstein's narrative of repression. The novel stages a competition between his creation story and the monster's version, a competition that Walton must finally judge. Though Frankenstein presents his narrative as a contest between two stories, their fates are bound together, as the monster warns the disbelieving creator when he claims they are "bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us" (94). Frankenstein admits that there is power in the monster's story which moves him deeply, but he does not recognize himself as the source of that power. The monster, however, has a better gasp of his creator's narrative connection to him, demanding to tell his own story as adamantly as Frankenstein insists on not telling his. "Hear me," the monster warns several times in his first meeting with Frankenstein, "or become the scourge of your fellow-creatures and the author of your own speedy ruin" (95-96). The monster reminds Frankenstein that he is the "author" of the material that constitutes his own life story and that a denial of his own actions by calling them demonic will eventually ruin him. This information is precisely what Frankenstein wants to repress, as he indicates when he responds to the monster in words that express his desire to "forget" the responsibilities of his own authorship: "Why do you call to my remembrance circumstances of which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author?" (96).

The monster's tale is also a story of desire. But his desire is to express himself in language. As Frankenstein's dream, the monster paradoxically acts both as a sign of the dreamer's repression and an expression of his desire to tell. As the monster tells it, his personal history is an exact reversal of Frankenstein's. The monster records his progress from uttering "inarticulate sounds" to becoming a master of the language, all in the pursuit of the kind of self-understanding and human community that Frankenstein has shunned (99, 114). The monster's resentment of his creator originates, significantly, in his discovery and reading of Frankenstein's private journals. They contained, he said, "the minutest description of my odious and loathsome person . . . in language which painted your own horrors, and rendered mine ineffaceable" (126). In the person of the monster, the dream material {92} declares itself here as ineffaceable, despite Frankenstein's effort to erase or paint over his connection to the dream as soon as he generated it. As the embodiment of the dream, the monster reminds Frankenstein of this ineradicability, relentlessly seeking the "ineffaceable" explanation of himself through the "godlike science" of language (107). The monster implicitly recognizes that language may be godlike, but it is not God-ordained. It is a tool of science, not a mysterious means of invoking or exorcising spirits. Appropriately, the first dream the monster tells to Frankenstein is about the power of telling his own story. In that dream, he overcomes the "disgust" of Felix and his family and wins their friendship through the efficacy of his own "conciliating words" (110).

From the beginning Frankenstein possesses an intense interest in the mysteries and secrets of nature. "The world was to me a secret which I desired to discover," he says of the quest for knowledge which took him away from his family and eventually from the whole human community (30). But clearly he is intent on repressing the secret desires of his own nature rather than bringing those secrets to light. He performs his grand project in complete secrecy, and during that time he acknowledges having received frequent reprimands from his family for not writing to them and accounting for his long absences. This failure as a correspondent must be significant in a novel that includes so many letters and is itself written in epistolary form. Frankenstein exhibits symptoms of his nervous disorder when Clerval raises the subject of writing home to his family. "Compose yourself," he counsels. "I will not mention it, if it agitates you; but your father and cousin would be very happy if they received a letter from you in your own hand-writing. They hardly know how ill you have been, and are uneasy at your long silence" (58). Frankenstein's silence is consistently associated with his illness and his refusal to "compose" himself by expressing it in language is always a symptom of that illness.

The first victim of Frankenstein's silence is his brother William, whose death Victor intuitively but inexplicably knows was caused by "his" monster. When Victor returns to his family to grieve over William's death, he considers telling his family his strange tale but finally resists. "I paused when I reflected on the story I had to tell," he says, claiming that he kept silent because the improbability of the story would make his family think him insane (72). This refusal to own his dream, to identify the monster's action as his own, is precisely what is driving him insane and causing the "nervous fever" from which he suffers (72). But he refuses to contemplate this possibility. "These reflections determined me," he says, "and I resolved to remain silent" (73). This resolution Victor makes several more times, and each time he causes the death of someone close to him. His silence assures Justine's unjust conviction and execution. Just prior to Clerval's murder, Frankenstein again decides to withhold his story from his family and keep his promise to {93} make a mate for the monster as a secret condition of his marriage to Elizabeth. Once more he rationalizes this silence as a gesture of concern for his friends and family, even though he knows the strategy is dangerous: "I knew that a thousand fearful accidents might occur, the slightest of which would disclose a tale to thrill all connected with me with horror."27 Again, just before his marriage to Elizabeth and her subsequent murder, Frankenstein avoids explaining his bizarre behavior to his family, so they will not think him mad: "I avoided explanation, and maintained a continual silence concerning the wretch I had created. I had a feeling that I should be supposed mad, and this for ever chained my tongue, when I would have given the whole world to have confided the fatal secret" (182). Frankenstein does not realize that what makes his secret fatal is that it is kept secret. He promises to divulge this "one secret" and "confide this tale of misery and terror" to Elizabeth only on the day after they marry. But it is a promise that -- as his nightmare revealed -- he would never have to keep (187).

Frankenstein's calculated effort to stifle his story is the most articulate symptom of his "incurable disease" (182). Its neurotic and compulsive character is suggested on the occasions when, despite his vigilance, "words" about his past which he refuses to explain "escape to my lips, as a half stifled sigh" (183). "I was in reality very ill," Frankenstein admits as soon as he has created his monster (57), and he alternately describes himself as suffering from "nervous fever," "insanity of the heart," "delirium," or some other form of illness from that moment on. Even as Frankenstein tells his tale, Walton is nursing his physical and emotional infirmities. But Frankenstein has neither the will nor the words to understand the symptoms of his own pathology. The language of psychological illness is "painted" over by the language of supernatural fatalism in Victor's account of himself, and he therefore cannot arrive at any understanding of his fears and desires.28

In this sense, Frankenstein never does succeed in becoming the narrator of his life story. Even as he speaks to Walton he continues to surrender his authority to the "fate" that he interprets as embodied in his dream. From beginning to end, Frankenstein refers to himself not as self-determined but as under the control of supernatural forces outside himself, forces he finally associates with the very dreams and desires from which he dissociates himself. Early on in the "record" he metaphorizes his "tale of misery" in a way {94} that makes its driving force seem to spring from the outside, even though he relates the origin of that force to a "passion":

In drawing the picture of my early days, I must not omit to record those events which led, by insensible steps to my after tale of misery: for when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion, which afterwards ruled my destiny, I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which in its course, has swept away all my hope and joys.

Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate. (32)

Frankenstein is "ruled" by "that passion" he has objectified, whose sources he has conveniently forgotten. His tale is an abandonment to fate rather than a record of his desires. The effects of his own desires (his "hopes and joys") have been "swept away" in his own self-alienating diction. Toward the end of his narrative, when he describes his life as a confusion of dream and waking, Victor's language explicitly turns his own passions and impulses into the agencies of heaven: "At such moments vengeance, that burned within me, died in my heart, and I pursued my path towards the destruction of the daemon, more as a task enjoined by heaven, as the mechanical impulse of some power of which I was unconscious, than as the ardent desire of my soul" (202). Here Frankenstein's attribution of his actions to the supernatural forces of heaven and hell keep him from assuming any control over the unconscious desire that he permits to be understood merely as an "impulse" issuing from some divine machine.

Frankenstein's refusal to assume the authorship of his own story, then, carries with it a cost for himself as well as for the victims of his creation. Even before he dies, he loses his life in a metaphorical sense -- by losing control of it. His failure to give an account of his dream turns his entire existence into a nightmare that haunts and possesses him, as Mary Shelley's dream did before she told it. "The past appeared to me in the light of a frightful dream," he says after being accused of Clerval's murder, which occurs appropriately, while Frankenstein sleeps in his boat on his way to an intended meeting with his friend (180-81). "The whole series of my life appeared to me as a dream; I sometimes doubted if indeed it were all true, for it never presented itself to my mind with the force of reality" (175). The confusion of dreams and reality is Frankenstein's own doing, his own failure to associate the forces in his dreams with those in his waking life. He prefers to conceive of himself as a gothic character haunted by a fiend or a phantom, a ghost he has been cursed with. This mastery by external forces Frankenstein identifies with the recurring nightmare by which he claims to be "possessed," in which he is engaged in a struggle with the "fiend," from which he cannot free himself: the monster's hands grasp his neck and he is silenced, just as William, Clerval, and Elizabeth were silenced (181).

{95} Victor as much as admits responsibility for his infirmities when he says that it was "by the utmost self-violence" that he "curbed the imperious voice of wretchedness, which sometimes desired to declare itself to the whole world" (183). His detachment from his own voice here, speaking of it as a thing apart from his will and power, underscores the harm that his failure as a narrator has inflicted on him. He is wounded by the secret he keeps even from his own consciousness. The single effort he makes to tell his "tale of horrors" before meeting Walton occurs when he goes to the magistrate after Clerval's murder. But even this is not a confession of guilt but rather an act of revenge in which Frankenstein still seeks to project responsibility for his crimes on an agency outside himself. He comes to the magistrate declaring he has "an accusation" to level, and in the course of arguing for the truth of his account he explicitly denies that the monster is his dream. "The story is too connected to be mistaken for a dream," he pleads (196-97). But the unacknowledged disconnectedness of the story is exactly what confirms it as a dream. Frankenstein laments that the judge "heard my story with that half kind of belief that is given to a tale of spirits and supernatural events" (197). Of course he did. This is precisely how Frankenstein has repeatedly represented his dreams and his neuroses. He explains away his "phrenzy" while telling his story as the "haughty fierceness, which the martyrs of old are said to have possessed." He refers to his "appearance of madness" during the narrative as an expression of his deep "devotion" and "heroism" (198). As he has throughout his career, Frankenstein takes refuge in a theological language in which his madness can be regarded as heroic and his "self-violence" can appear as martyrdom.

Frankenstein's self-deception may be seen either as an expression of the repressed romantic-gothic overreacher or as representative of a more widespread cultural problem. As a psychological case, Frankenstein, like the painter in Freud's case "A Seventeenth-Century Demonological Neurosis," might be understood as suffering from a crisis of authority which exhibits itself as a rage against his parents, as paranoia, schizophrenia, and egomania. Frankenstein's project at the outset is quite clearly associated with the death of his mother, his confused family history, and the failure of his father to guide him properly. He defines his scientific aspirations in Promethean terms as a human assumption of divine attributes -- the creation of a race of beings that will worship him as creator. But upon completing his project, Frankenstein discovers, among other things, that he is only a man who has taken on divine responsibilities, whose scope terrifies him. He fears the implications of replacing his father and mother with a family romance enacted in his own mind. Early in his narrative, Victor criticizes his father's curt dismissal of his interest in the occult and even suggests that had his father been a better guide, he might "never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin" (33). These issues emerge again when the father explicitly requests that {96} Victor marry Elizabeth at the same time as the monster requests he make a female mate. Frankenstein meets both requests with "horror and dismay," seeing each "solemn promise" as necessarily excluding the other, instead of recognizing them as parallel demands of the erotic life (149). Rather than accept the consequences of his essentially modern and secular situation, then, Frankenstein once more rejects responsibility for it and for himself. At the same time, he rejects the world of science for the more secure world of religion, failing in the project to "give new names" to the phenomena of human experience (43).

But Frankenstein's failure to give "new names" to psychological phenomena may also be read as a larger cultural accusation by Mary Shelley. Put another way, her dream text may be seen as expressing a desire for a scientific language to identify and explain human psychology, a language to mediate between the only alternatives Frankenstein could imagine to represent his condition: hopeless, incurable madness or supernatural possession. In this reading, Frankenstein becomes a text that asserts the existence of a powerful inner life and laments the lack of an adequate vocabulary to identify and control the sometimes terrifying psychic forces that drive that life. Our dreams are monstrous specters until they find a language by which they can be effectively integrated into our waking experience. Without such a language, they remain repressed, defied, or projected onto a transcendent world of spirits and demons. It is for this reason that the monster, as Frankenstein's dream, devotes himself so absolutely to a quest to master language, a quest that may be read as a request for a form of psychoanalytic discourse with which to work through the dream specters and translate them into what Freud called the familiar language of our dream thoughts. Frankenstein's failure is his frustration of that quest, his devotion of himself "to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly rounded" (41). The monster remains as a sign of Frankenstein's now-abandoned scientific interests. Yet, even the monster represents a threat, because the wish for a scientific discourse in the novel is qualified by a suspicion. Victor's own course demonstrates that medicine wrongly applied can produce Faustian overreachers and can, by way of a scientific and professional elitism, mystify the nature of the self as profoundly as any religion.

The monster's final appearance in the novel reinforces the ambivalence about the desire he represents. Walton is the last person to see the monster, and he is the only acquaintance of Frankenstein's who encounters the monster and lives. Walton is, of course a double for Frankenstein: both are engaged on a grand quest; both have abandoned home and friends for that quest; both have violated the will of their fathers in pursuing their great projects; and both have their stories to tell. Walton even describes his project in terms that echo Frankenstein's when he calls the polar expedition his "favourite dream" and describes it as imbued with "an enthusiasm which {97} elevates me to heaven" (10). When the dying Frankenstein asks Walton to "undertake my unfinished work," he makes an ominous request (215). If Walton is to succeed where Frankenstein fails, he must recognize the dangerous analogy between himself and the dying scientist, and he must recognize what his predecessor did not -- that the monster may be the projection of his own "favourite dream." His project has brought Walton, like Frankenstein, face-to-face with a monster, which he encounters in his bedroom. In order to psychically survive that experience he must tell his own tale of self-recognition rather than repeat Frankenstein's story of self-repression.

When the monster reappears to Walton after his creator's death, he begins his final account of himself by posing an important question: "And do you dream?" (217). The question remains unanswered by Walton, as it was by Frankenstein. The quality of Walton's response when he completes his own account of himself will determine whether or not his story will substantially differ from Frankenstein's. Walton's letters to his sister are not the end of his story, though they do represent a hopeful sign of commitment to the familiar world abandoned by Frankenstein. But his decision to forsake his journey is imposed on him by his crew, rather than freely taken by himself. He remains vulnerable to Frankenstein's lofty rhetoric and to "the power of his eloquence," referring to him as a "godlike" and "glorious spirit" (208, 210, 216). Walton, however, is also moved by the monster's last words, which work in the direction of self-understanding rather than self-justification. The monster acknowledges that his passions drive him, but he takes responsibility for those passions: "I had cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish to riot in the excess of my despair. . . . I had no choice," he goes on to say, "but to adapt my nature to an element which I had willingly chosen. The completion of my demoniacal design became an insatiable passion" (218). Whereas Frankenstein converts his passions to the mechanisms of demonic or divine intelligence and resists their psychological reality, the monster's demoniacal designs "become" for him the expression of his own passions. He acknowledges the need to adapt himself to the elements of the nature he was at least partially responsible for bringing into being. For Walton to survive his encounter with Frankenstein's monster and to finish what was left unfinished by his double, he must judge between these two accounts of the self and formulate out of his dream a story that takes responsibility for the desires and passions within it

Frankenstein raises issues central to the development of the nineteenth-century novel. It is a book simultaneously concerned with constructing a self and with becoming, or failing to become, a responsible narrator -- projects that the novel portrays as essentially related. Edward Said has identified a tension in the novel between what he calls "authority" and "molestation," between the powers and the limits of self-origination. Said's description of this tension is so appropriate to the specifics of its plot that Frankenstein {98} seems to become a model for the novel so defined: "The common pattern here is the initial rejection of natural paternity in the narrative, which then leads to a special procreative yet celibate enterprise, which in turn yields to death and a brief vision of what might have happened had the narrative and the initial act of self-isolation never been undertaken."29 Frankenstein is the archetypal tale of a literal "procreative yet celibate enterprise" for the nineteenth century. Its plot is what Peter Brooks describes as the fundamental plot of any novel -- an account of aberration from a prescribed pattern, of deviance, abnormality. According to Brooks, the novel characteristically follows a course of error which seeks to correct itself by conforming to a divine "master text."30 Much as Freud had defined the dream event, Brooks defines the novel as a kind of cultural symptom that is also a part of the process of recovery.

Brooks claims, however, that "if the master text is not available, we are condemned to the reading of erroneous plots . . . to repetition, rereading in the knowledge that what we discover will always be that there was nothing to be discovered."31 This is the most pessimistic view of the secular, recuperative project of the novel. The genre can also be described as expressing, as Frankenstein does, a continuing quest for a new discourse to replace the missing divine master text in the explanation of the self. The publication of a host of novelistic and quasi-novelistic autobiographies during the nineteenth century represents a sustained experiment in formulating such discourses. "Once translated from images into interpretative language," Said says of Freud's speaking cure, "the plot of the dream, and hence its image, loses its effective power to dominate one's attention."32 The terrifying image of Frankenstein's monster has no power over one person in the novel -- the blind DeLacey. This is the case, of course, because for him the words of the monster's story necessarily replace his fearful image. "I am blind, and cannot judge your countenance," DeLacey says to the monster, "but there is something in your words" (130). The finding of that "something" in the words of the narrators in these autobiographical texts constitutes their recovery from a disordered or inadequate vocabulary of the self. DeQuincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is just such a text. It drifts across the boundaries of gothic fiction, autobiography, and the autobiographical novel in a unique way, and it appropriately recounts the narrator's literal recovery from the domination of an addiction and its accompanying dreams of terror. By directly associating dreams, illness, and the process of recovery, DeQuincey's Confessions deepens the desire for a medically based discourse of dream interpreta- {99} tion as it was expressed in Frankenstein. At the same time, by parodying and debunking the discourse of religious conversion and confession, the Confessions also reveals the exhaustion of the ability of theological language to account for our dreams.

Symptoms and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

I now pass to what is the main subject of these latter confessions, to the history and journal of what took place in my dreams; for these were the immediate and proximate cause of my acutest suffering.

-- Thomas DeQuincey
Thomas DeQuincey ends the "Preliminary Confessions" of his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater with an address to his wife: "Thou wilt read these records of a period so dolorous to us both as the legend of some hideous dream that can return no more."33 Like Mary Shelley and Horace Walpole before him, DeQuincey traces these "records" of his illness to a dream account -- or, more precisely, to the "legend" of a dream. By characterizing his project as the making of a readable legend out of his hideous dreams, DeQuincey implicitly acknowledges that his dreams were symptoms of a life story in disarray. Later in the Confessions, he identifies the "main subject" of the narrative as "the history and journal of what took place in my dreams," because the dreams were "the immediate and proximate cause" of the infirmities that demanded the narrative be written (102). But DeQuincey's dreams are symptoms not only because they manifest a disorder but also because they enable a recovery. The story, he claims, once composed out of the dream, will order his past in such a way as to give each event its proper place, releasing the reader and the writer from the painful hauntings that will "return no more." The whole of the Confessions is an account of this transfer of power from the dream to the dreamer, or more accurately, to the teller of the dream. If Frankenstein expresses the desire for a new discourse with which to explain and integrate dream experience into the construction of a self, DeQuincey's Confessions provides a framework for that project to begin.

"As an essayist and autobiographer, Thomas DeQuincey was a great Gothic novelist," Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick attests. "The subjects he ap- {100} proached with the most characteristic sympathy were certain heightened versions of a privation and immobilization: dreams and trances, submergence under a massive space, the unspeakable."34 But as is also typical of much gothic fiction, DeQuincey's Confessions strives to speak the unspeakable language of the dream. Describing the "higher key" into which his work sometimes rises, DeQuincey reminds the reader of "the perilous difficulty besieging all attempts to clothe in words the visionary scenes derived from the world of dreams, where a single false note, a single word in a wrong key, ruins the whole music."35 From the very beginning of the Confessions, the choice of the particular kind of discourse with which the narrator constructs the legend of his dreams and articulates the unspeakable is the urgent concern. DeQuincey opens the book with a section addressed directly "To the Reader" in which he firmly declares that "my self-accusation does not amount to a confession of guilt" (30). Despite the title of the book, then, the language and intention of this narrative is to be distinguished from a traditional confession. In opposition to the moral language of guilt and innocence, DeQuincey employs the medical terms of illness and health. His confession seeks "remedies" for "infirmity and misery," which, he maintains, "do not, of necessity, imply guilt" (30). At the same time, he also wants to distinguish his narrative from the sensationalizing "spectacle" of "public exposure" engaged in by the "spurious and defective sensibility of the French," who indiscreetly flaunt their "moral ulcers or scars" for the purpose of defying moral conventions (29). Unlike such writers, DeQuincey is no more interested in subverting the "decent drapery" of moral standards than he is in endorsing it. His project is to provide a different kind of discourse with which to talk about psychic experience. In writing this narrative, DeQuincey wishes to "render" a service to the "scores of cases" that suffer from this same "infirmity" (31). Like the opium about which it is written, the narrative itself is presented as a kind of medical treatment "aiming at the bare relief of pain" (30).

In the final paragraph of this introductory address to the reader, DeQuincey defers to the authority of "medical writers" as the "greatest enemies" of opium, who, even so, recognize its "fascinating powers" (32). Later, he refers to the authority of doctors and surgeons in the Confessions, often lampooning them for their unfounded superstitions about opium. Nevertheless, much as Freud would do in The Interpretation of Dreams, DeQuincey aligns himself with the medical profession in this book, and he {101} presents himself as a case study in which he is both doctor and patient, the "medical writer" who corrects and augments the prevailing views of dream experience by writing his own life story into an inquiry about the "extensive power of this drug" and the meaning of the dreams it provokes (32).

Michel Foucault speaks of the "medicalization of the effects of confession" as one of the crucial cultural transformations of the nineteenth century. He demonstrates how new forms of discourse were generated in the period out of the "interference" that existed between the "procedures of confession" and those of "scientific discursivity."36 Not only did these new discourses contribute to the shaping of contemporary notions of the self, but they also generated new rituals of self-definition which culminated in the language of psychoanalysis at the end of the century. DeQuincey's Confessions participates in this process. In the following passage, for example, the narrator asserts his "authority" against that of a surgeon on the intoxicating effects of opium, only to plead for a more scientifically accurate "diagnostics" of the self:

I confess, however, that the authority of a surgeon, and one who was reputed a good one, may seem a weighty one to my prejudice: but still I must plead my experience . . . and, though it was not possible to suppose a medical man unacquainted with characteristic symptoms of vinous intoxication, it yet struck me that he might proceed on a logical error of using the word intoxication with too great latitude, and extending it generically to all modes of nervous excitement, instead of restricting it as the expression for a specific sort of excitement, connected with certain diagnostics. (76)
With scientific precision, DeQuincey explains his experience with opium as a medical phenomenon. The movement in the sentence from the "I confess" with which it begins, to the expression of concern about the accuracy of the doctor's language, then to an appeal by the narrator to his own experience, and finally to a call for the specificity of more "certain diagnostics" provides a concentrated case of the discursive development that Foucault envisions as taking place across the century.

The Confessions is generally regarded as a text without a structure or as having, at best, a fuguelike structure in which themes blend, build upon one another, and reappear in modified forms.37 This organic, improvisational {102} quality is certainly present in the narrative, and DeQuincey explicitly describes much of the text as necessarily spontaneous and "disjointed. "I have not been able to compose the notes of this part of my narrative into any regular and connected shape," he says at the opening of the crucial "Pains of Opium" section (96-97). He apologizes that the events could not be put into proper sequence but must remain in a state of "horrors" because of the "palsying effects on the intellectual faculties" of the opium and its dreams (97-98). These announcements are part of the case DeQuincey is presenting of a life in narrative disorder, symptoms of the disease the narrative is intended to heal. In addition, they are indications of the unavailability of the specific interpretive strategies he requires to accomplish his diagnostic goals. In this section, which contains his literal dream accounts, DeQuincey apologizes that his "way of writing" has been simply "to think aloud" in order to make "some record of a time, the entire history of which no one can know but myself" (97). But these apologies are also recognitions that his writing is itself a symptom and that his text is the presentation of a case study that requires a kind of talking cure. When DeQuincey identifies himself as a dreamer seeking to make sense out of the confusion of his "disjointed" and "disconnected" mental life, he underscores his desire to make his private experience knowable to someone else. His narrative of self-reproduction is also a form of self-exposure, then, a turning inside out by the writing subject in order to reconstruct himself as a coherent entity with a narratable inner life.

Rather than actually deny a structure to the text, passages like these foreground the struggle to achieve one. The narrative is, as DeQuincey calls it several times, "record." It records the process of making dreams into language, of turning from dreamer into author. It records the history of a self inventing the language to describe its private life. The "plot" of this narrative is appropriately represented as an escape plot, then. It recounts the narrator's "untwist[ing]" of "the chain that lettered him," his release from silence into speech (30).38 His dreams, DeQuincey claims, were accompanied by a deep "melancholy" that was "wholly incommunicable by words" (103). But this narrative of the inexpressible recounts his discovery of the "assuaging balm" of "eloquent opium," which offers him a "potent rhetoric" by which he creates a "new character" for himself (83, 88).39

{103} The characterization of the text as therapy makes it both resemble and differ from a religious conversion tract. The Confessions tells the story of "a sort of physical regeneration" but not a spiritual one (115). In fact, DeQuincey describes his message as fundamentally secular; it directly opposes the message of conventional religious texts. "This is the doctrine of the true church on the subject of opium," he proclaims, "of which church I acknowledge myself to be the only member -- the alpha and the omega" (75). In this book, DeQuincey writes a heretical, Byronic scripture of the first person. The "I" is the only authority in this church, seeking to accomplish "what I never yet heard attributed to any other man" (30). In this scientific gospel, a human being can achieve what previously was attributed only to God. Here, when DeQuincey frees himself from "the accursed chain that lettered" him, he performs a "self-conquest" that is a conquest by the self rather than a conquest over it (30). One aspect of this release from opium addiction is its simultaneous release from the power of religious language and a religious world view as well. No wonder that DeQuincey says he takes such pleasure in reading aloud the Satanic speeches from Paradise Regained.

The frequent references to Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained invoke the religious allusiveness of many gothic novels, and they are central to the legend the Confessions seeks to create. In this book, DeQuincey rebels against religious conceptions of the self by reinventing himself as a specifically secular, self-authorized agent. He gives birth to a new self and to a general cultural notion of the subject as well. In writing the legend of his own psyche, we might say that he is medicalizing the soul. Appropriately, the dual enterprise of "self-reproduction" and dream interpretation begins with the recollection of certain crucial experiences of DeQuincey's childhood which center around the loss of his parents. He includes this material because it is "necessary" to "an author's purposes" in several ways (33). First, memories explain why "any reasonable being" would "fetter himself with such a sevenfold chain" as opium addiction. DeQuincey then claims that the childhood material is also included to provide a "key" to the account of the dreams he will later tell and that these recollections are meant to create in the reader some "interest of a personal sort in the confessing subject" (33). DeQuincey's project of unlocking the meaning of the dream material, in other words, is always connected with both diagnosis and treatment: establishing "plausible" narrative explanations by reconstituting a past, and constructing a relationship between author and reader (29, 33).40 In what might appear to be a description of his own psychoanalysis, DeQuincey seeks to {104} reengender himself by way of a speaking cure -- by remembering and writing down the story of his lost parents. This, he asserts, is the key of entry into his unarticulated dream-self.

DeQuincey's account of his youth contains several important details that make this period fundamental to the "narrative plot" of achieving self-authorship. Most striking is his direct linking of the death of his father with the original "pain" that the opium was intended to "remedy." The narrator traces his first use of opium to his desire to ease a "pain in the severest degree" which attacked him at the age of twenty-eight. He then follows the memory of this pain to a specific incident that took place some ten years earlier. Finally, he recalls its first occurrence, caused by the "extremities of hunger suffered" in an earlier time -- "in my boyish days" (35). But DeQuincey suggests that these more vaguely remembered pains are caused by more than physical hunger. When he recounts the "youthful sufferings which first produced this derangement," the first event he mentions is that "my father died when I was about seven years old and left me in the care of four guardians" (35). How DeQuincey characterizes his resistance to this loss and to these substitute parents reinforces the sense that his project of self-reproduction began here, with the birth pangs that followed his father's death.41

This association of physical and psychological symptoms leads to DeQuincey's first dream descriptions and to the story of the origins of his book as well. The story begins with DeQuincey's attempt to obtain some of the inheritance his father left him in order to attend the university. The effort is met with the uncompromising "authority" of one of his tyrannical guardians, who refuses his charge's request and demands "unconditional submission" to his will (36-37). The young DeQuincey then tried to borrow the money against his expectations from his father's estate and the moneylenders questioned his identity as his father's son. Their suspicion prompts DeQuincey to question the matter himself. "Was I that person?" he asks. "It was Strange to me to find my own self, materialiter considered . . . , accused, or at least suspected, of counterfeiting my own self, formaliter considered" (55). This fear of being a self-counterfeit provokes his decision to earn the money with which to buy back his authority over himself -- by writing and selling his Confessions.

The writing of the Confessions is DeQuincey's resolution of a crisis in his identity by returning to but refusing to be determined by the "text" of his past. The magazine publication of his story provided him with an income that made him financially independent and the author of "a new character" {105} (88).42 That effort, however, produced dreams that "haunted" him during this period of his life, dreams that he says were "as ugly, and as ghastly phantoms that ever haunted the couch of an Orestes" (68). These dreams remain phantoms for DeQuincey. They bind, dominate, and torture him as much as his unyielding guardians did and as much as his addiction to opium would. He never reveals the content of those dreams, only that they were associated with the pains and traumas that produced the book. It is enough at this stage of the narrative that the dreams are regarded as "ghostly" and are likened to the hauntings of Orestes -- another son who suffered from the consequences of his parents' deaths, for which he was in part responsible. The dreams are symptoms of the "derangement" DeQuincey's narrative project is intended to remedy; they contain the "hieroglyphic meanings of human sufferings" which he says his dreams encode, meanings that are only decoded when the dreams are placed in this narrative of his life (52).

In order to move from this consideration of his dreams as ghostly hauntings to a fuller understanding of their psychological significance, DeQuincey notices several "facts" about dreams. Chief among them is that dreams have revive the power to record accurately, to "revive" the "minutest" yet most critical "incidents of childhood" (104). This aspect of dreaming he likens to a "book of account" in which we can read the "secret inscriptions on the mind," which he says, remain for ever." This "secret, or repressed, narrative is what the Confessions sets out to reveal by offering a language with which to decipher the "hieroglyphs" of the psyche, which Freud would name the unconscious. The resemblance of DeQuincey's dream "facts" to Freud's conception of distortion, condensation, and revelation-by-censorship in the dream work attests to the role that this kind of literature had in the formation of a medicalized vocabulary to control by language what had previously been controlled by faith. But beyond that, it anticipates Freud's bringing together of the acts of invention (or fantasy) and recollection to reach a psychological "truth" about the self. The Confessions of an English Opium Eater is both the "legend" and the "history" of what took place in its author's dreams.43

Not until the final part of his narrative does DeQuincey make the transition from speaking about his dreams as "incubus and nightmare" (102) to regarding them as a "power of endless growth and self-reproduction" (106). This is also where he actually provides detailed accounts of his dreams, {106} instead of referring to them obliquely and keeping their specific content to himself. But even here, the dreams themselves are terrifying events that pose a threat to the dreamer until they become part of the narrative of the Confessions. DeQuincey gives several dream accounts in this chapter, each of which involves some struggle for power. The final dream is the most elaborate representation of such a struggle, and in important ways it represents the culmination of the entire project of the Confessions. The dream shows the dreamer engaged in a great conflict that is paradigmatic of the role of dreams in the book as whole:

Somewhere, I knew not where -- somehow, I knew not how -- by some beings, I knew not whom -- a battle, a strife, an agony, was conducting . . . with which my sympathy was the more insupportable from my confusion as to its place, its cause, its nature, and its possible issue. I, as is usual in dreams (where, of necessity, we make ourselves central to every movement), had the power, and yet had not the power, to decide it. I had the power, if I could raise myself, to will it; and yet again had not the power, for the weight of twenty Atlantics was upon me, or the oppression of inexpiable guilt. (112-113)
Here the dreamer is at the center of a battle for power which only his will can decide. "As is usual in dreams" he both is and is not in possession of that power. This dream is the clearest representation of what is true of all these dreams -- that they are sites of power the dreamer must occupy if he is to avoid being preoccupied and overwhelmed by them. But this is a dream of confusion and defeat. The final images mount into a torrent of human faces, a swirl of familiar female forms, a vision of "heart-breaking partings, and then -- everlasting farewells" (113). This is how the dream and its account end, and the dreamer is left with the haunting "sense that all was lost."

This is a disturbing dream account with which to end this book. Yet, despite the narrator's apparent loss of the battle that took place within the dream, the sequence of dream accounts that lead up to it implies a kind of plot for what the narrator refers to on the next page as the achievement of his "triumph" (114).44 Somehow, DeQuincey turns the apparent defeat within this dream into a triumph for his narrative. The remarkable feature of this final section of the book is DeQuincey's failure to interpret his dreams despite all the preparations he has made in the text to do exactly this. While he has managed to give a case history of himself and an account of several {107} dreams, he makes no actual effort to interpret or analyze the images of the dream in light of the life story he has presented. He simply puts them side by side. It is as if the vocabulary and techniques for such analysis were not available to him, and he could only take his interpretation this far. In fact, the content of the dreams themselves suggests something very close to this state of affairs. The Confessions reveals itself in its treatment of these dreams to be a fuller, more direct, and more articulate expression than Frankenstein of the desire for a therapeutic explanatory system rooted in the whole life of the dreamer. The triumph of the book is its expression of this desire and its first modest steps to fulfill it. On the final page of his book DeQuincey virtually states as much: "Medical account, therefore, of my emancipation I have not much to give: and even that little, as managed by a man so ignorant of medicine as myself, would probably tend only to mislead" (115). What the book initially conceives as its project -- the forging of a more "certain" and more medically sophisticated "diagnostics" -- has only begun to be achieved. But this beginning is its victory.

The final dream in DeQuincey's Confessions appropriately, then, portrays a battle whose outcome is not yet decided. The dreamer both does and does not have "the power to decide it" (113). Up until this point, DeQuincey's struggles with his desires and guilt over his self-authorship have been evident. But in this last dream of struggle, along with the other dream accounts immediately preceding it, the desire for self-authorship finds expression in the "sympathetic ink" of DeQuincey's unconscious, where he is giving birth not only to himself but to a strategy with which to explain the imagery of dreams. Like the final dream, the two dreams that precede it dramatize a struggle for power associated with the dreamer's separation from a woman, much as the initial pains that led to his opium dreams were associated with his separation from his father. The pathos of the dreamer's separation from "female forms," which appears in the final dream, pervades the entire book as much as the pain over the father's death does (113). In the "Preliminary Confessions," for example, DeQuincey records a vivid memory of the day he left school for the last time, which may have furnished one of the latent thoughts for this pattern in his dreams and which also indicates how central to his thinking these images are:

I wept as I looked round on the chair, hearth, writing-table, and other familiar objects, knowing too certainly, that I looked upon them for the last time. Whilst I write this, it is eighteen years ago: and yet, at this moment, I see distinctly as if it were yesterday, the lineaments and expression of the object on which I fixed my parting gaze: it was a picture of the lovely _____, which hung over the mantle-piece; the eyes and mouth of which were so beautiful, and the whole countenance so radiant with benignity, and divine tranquillity, that I had a thousand times laid down my pen, or my book, to gather consolation from it, as a devotee from his patron saint. Whilst I was yet gazing upon it, the deep tones of ____ {108} clock proclaimed that it was four o'clock. I went up to the picture, kissed it, and then gently walked out, and closed the door for ever! (38-39)
This emotional leave-taking from a portrait of a "divine" and saintly woman who remains unnamed anticipates the images of separation from female figures in these last dreams and repeats his abandonment of religious authority throughout the text. It marks both an end and a beginning for DeQuincey, his passing away and rebirth associated in his memory with his act of transcribing a vision into language.

Each of these final dreams in the book combines images of birth and separation with verbal reconstitutions of the self. The next detailed dream account DeQuincey gives is the dream of Ann, which is perhaps the most elaborate example. The dream occurs directly after the narrator describes his oppressive architectural visions of Piranesi-like labyrinthine spaces and his monster-filled Oriental dreams. These are presented as recurring dream patterns rather than as specific dream events, and both are dominated by images of entombment in womblike spaces.45 The elaborately described dream of his reunion with Ann presents these materials in very different form. The dream occurs in two discrete parts, and in each part the dreamer is afflicted by the object of his "gaze," and he recovers by the power of his own words:

I thought that it was a Sunday morning in May, that it was Easter Sunday, and as yet very early in the morning. I was standing, as it seemed to me, at the door of my own cottage. Right before me lay the very scene which could really be commanded from that situation, but exalted, as was usual, and solemnized by the power of dreams. . . . no living creature was to be seen, excepting that in the green churchyard there were cattle tranquilly reposing upon the verdant graves, and particularly round about the grave of a child whom I had tenderly loved, just as I had really beheld them, a little before sun-rise in the same summer, when that child died. I gazed upon the well-known scene, and I said aloud (as I thought) to myself, "It yet wants much of sun-rise; and it is Easter Sunday; and that is the day on which they celebrate the first-fruits of resurrection. . . . with the dew, I can wash the fever from my forehead, and then I shall be unhappy no longer." (111)
The sadness and malaise caused by the death of the child in the dream is characterized here as an illness -- a fever cured by the dreamer's act of articulation: "I said aloud . . . I can wash the fever from my forehead, and then I shall be unhappy no longer." The child's grave recalls the entomb- {109} ments of the previous dreams, and the appearance of the grave at the door of the dreamer's own cottage suggests that the death is also his own. His recovery from the fever is, then, a kind of resurrection, or rebirth, of himself, "commanded" and "solemnized by the power of dreams."

The second part of the dream repeats the same "talking cure." Here the reunion with Ann, the beloved companion of his youth in the streets of London, is effected by an articulation of his desire:

Immediately I saw upon the left a scene far different; but which yet the power of dreams had reconciled into harmony with the other. The scene was an Oriental one; and there also it was Easter Sunday, and very early in the morning. And at a vast distance were visible, as a stain upon the horizon, the domes and cupolas of a great city -- an image or faint abstraction, caught perhaps in childhood from some picture of Jerusalem. And not a bow-shot from me, upon a stone, and shaded by Judean palms, there sat a woman: and I looked; and it was -- Ann! She fixed her eyes upon me earnestly; and I said to her at length: "So then I have found you at last." I waited: but she answered me not a word. Her face was the same as when I saw it last, and yet again how different!
The dream ends with the disappearance of the whole scene and its replacement by a vision of the dreamer, no longer separated from Ann in a strange land but walking together with her in the familiar streets of London, "just as we walked seventeen years before, when we were both children" (111-12).

This part of the dream might once again be read as a second birth. It represents the recovery of childhood and the reunion of the child with the "female form" of Ann, both of which are enabled by the dreamer's articulation of his desire within the dream: "So then I have found you at last." Like the utterance in the earlier part of the dream, this is both an expression of the dreamer's wish and an exertion of his will over the images of the dream. DeQuincey had strongly identified himself with Ann earlier in the Confessions, portraying her both as a surrogate mother and as another orphan of the London streets he called his "stony-hearted stepmother" (67). After he had parted from Ann and searched for her in vain for some years, he finally "wish[es] to see her no longer; but think[s] of her, more gladly, as one long since laid in the grave." He would rather imagine she has died than envision the "injuries and cruelties" of the world, which might have "blotted out and transfigured" the image he had of her in his mind (65). In this dream, the deeper wish is fulfilled: the parting with the orphan-mother becomes unnecessary. She is restored to life -- a child like himself -- by the dreamer's own words. Just as DeQuincey had overcome the loss of his father by writing his Confessions, he overcomes his parting with the woman by the words he speaks in his dream. Together, these articulations enable him to recuperate, and author, himself. When the streets of Jerusalem that witnessed one resurrec- {110} tion turn into the London streets in which the narrator gives new life to himself, the shift from a religious to a secular setting for the authority in the dreamer's life is enacted within the images of the dream.

The architectural and Oriental dream accounts that DeQuincey includes in this section are more gothic in character and are not described in nearly so great detail. These earlier dreams, like the Orestes visions, are dreams of haunting, and significantly, the dreamer remains silent within them. He does not give voice to his desires within the dream itself, as he does in the dream of Ann. "I was buried, for a thousand years, in stone coffins," he recalls of the Oriental dreams. "Over every form, and threat, and punishment, and dim sightless incarceration, brooded a sense of eternity and infinity that drove me into an oppression as of madness" (106, 109). These dreams assume their terror from their endless unrepresentability in words. The architectural dreams in particular seem to refer directly back to his descriptions of his earlier "baffled efforts" to write a single, great work on the operations of the mind: "This was now lying locked up, as by frost, like any Spanish bridge or aqueduct, begun upon too great a scale for the resources of the architect; and, instead of surviving me as a monument of wishes at least, and aspirations, and a life of labour dedicated to the exaltation of human nature . . . , it was likely to stand a memorial to my children of hopes defeated, or baffled efforts . . . of the grief and ruin of the architect" (99). In the dream of Ann, however, the dreamer escapes from the tombs of time and space. He speaks and relieves the fever of his madness, restoring to his life what had been lost -- or buried -- in the vast, silent spaces of the others. Together, this sequence of dreams expresses the desire for the words to master the dream images, for the making of a book in which to contain them, and for the remedy of the psychological disorder and bafflement of which they are symptoms.

DeQuincey includes one more dream about the apparently lost struggle for power in his book. Like the others, it too ends with a verbal assertion of release. This time, however, the utterance does not occur within the dream itself: "And I awoke in struggles," the dreamer says, "and cried aloud -- 'I will sleep no more!'" (113). These words allow him to escape the "struggles" of unconsciousness and to move into the conscious state where he can conquer them through analysis and interpretation. They reassert the significance of his assuming a voice in the narrative by which to command his dreams. These words also form the bridge to the end of DeQuincey's narrative. His very next statement calls for the conclusion: "I am now called upon to wind up a narrative which has already extended to an unreasonable length" (113). But that the narrative has now been so abruptly "brought to its crisis" demands some apology and explanation by the narrator: "The reader is already aware [from a passage near the beginning of the introduction to the first part] that the opium-eater has, in some way or other, 'unwound, almost {111} to its final links, the accursed chain which bound him.' By what means? To have narrated this, according to the original intention, would have far exceeded the space which can now be allowed" (113). This acknowledgement of a fundamental gap in the narrative makes two important points. First, the narrator admits that the therapeutic goal of the narrative has not been fully reached. The cure of his opium addiction and his dreams is only "almost" complete. Second, the intended narrative goal of the piece is not fully achieved either. The narrator could not say all he wanted. These two failures are, of course, the same. The narrator's inability to interpret and associate the images of his dreams with the events of his life precludes his absolute mastery over their "fascinating power" (114). The most striking feature of the Confessions is where it stops. It "displays" but does not explain its dreams because it cannot explain them. It can only express the desire for a language that completes what the words within his dream began.

Despite his failures, DeQuincey can nevertheless assert, "I triumphed," once he refers to himself as an "author" who has thrown off the "empire" of his opiate "spells" by giving an account of his past and his dreams. His triumph is the production of this narrative that implicitly connects his conscious and unconscious life, even if he could not integrate them completely (114). "The object was to display the marvelous agency of opium," he says in explaining the omission of the details of his escape. "If that is done, the action of the piece has closed" (114). The "marvelous agency" he has displayed is the "agency" of dreaming, as DeQuincey restated in the Suspiria. But even here in the Confessions, he has clearly shown that dreaming is a "faculty" the dreamer can own and connect with his waking life. That has been the "action of the piece," the critical event in the plot of escape. The narrative is "closed," then, but not completed. It represents only what the narrator was capable of doing with the knowledge -- and discourse -- available to him. The mastery of the dreaming and interpreting faculty must remain more a wish than an achievement in these Confessions.

"One memorial of my former condition still remains," he says in closing. "My dreams are not yet perfectly calm: the dread swell and agitation of the storm have not wholly subsided: the legions that encamped in them are drawing off, but not all departed" (115-16). In the Suspiria, DeQuincey would admit to having "mastered" the forces of his addiction and his dreams some three times, revealing the provisional character of his "triumph" and the incompleteness of his cure in the Confessions. The third "prostration" before opium, he says, almost reduced him to permanent silence (235). But even if his dreams are not "calm," they have become his possessions, the "memorials" of his assuming a power once perceived to be entirely outside his authority. In these last pages of his account of the medicalization of his soul, DeQuincey acknowledges that it is "as painful to be born as to die" (115). "My sleep is still tumultuous," he says in the closing words, comparing {112} his dreams to the fiery visions of "our first parents" in Paradise Lost, when they looked back to the gates of the Eden from which they had been expelled (116). In this final image, DeQuincey provides a figure of his own achievement and of its limitations. His book is poised between the confidence of a religious explanation of dream experience and the uncertain fly of an as-yet-incomplete scientific one. DeQuincey has clearly emerged from the former but has not yet fully entered the latter. That world is still all before him and the other writers -- both literary and scientific -- who will attempt to "clothe in words the visionary scenes derived from the world of dreams." One of the most ambitious such efforts is Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, in which dreams and illness are again explained alternately as demonic possessions or psychological symptoms and where the dream account is shown to be as potentially repressive as it can be expressive.

Dreams and Disorders in Wuthering Heights

I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one -- I'm going to tell it.

-- Catherine Earnshaw
At age seventeen, Emily Bronte was sent away to school along with her sister Charlotte. Emily's attachment to her home at Haworth was apparently so deep that she became seriously ill when she was separated from it. Charlotte's memoir of the experience describes how Emily's illness was accompanied by haunting dreams of home, which she dreamed just as she awoke each morning: "Every morning when she woke, the vision of home and the moors rushed on her, and darkened and saddened the day that lay before her. Nobody knew what ailed her but me -- I knew only too well. In this struggle her health was quickly broken; her white face, attenuated form, and failing strength threatened rapid decline. I felt in my heart she would die, if she did not go home, and with this conviction obtained her recall."46 These symptomatic dreams of longing for the moors and for home are replicated by Catherine in the novel that Emily would write some ten years after her return. home. Wuthering Heights may be read as the extended account of Emily's childhood dreams of grief. It is presided over by the dreams, {113} illnesses, and unfulfilled longings of a number of its characters. During the illness in which Catherine dreams of her childhood on the moors, her nurse Nelly Dean speaks of her patient's "delirium," "frenzy," and "madness" as resembling a state of "half dream."47 Cathy's dreams during this period -- like Emily's -- are clearly symptoms of the disturbance of her mind. "I dread sleeping," she says. "My dreams appal me" (124). But she is equally appalled by the behavior of her husband, who responds to her illness by retreating into his library and the "society" of his books. "Among his books!" she protests to her nurse when she learns of his whereabouts. "What in the name of all that feels, has he to do with books, when I am dying?" (121,122).

In Wuthering Heights, books and narratives are matters of life and death, and they are repeatedly set against passion, dream, and illness. Whereas in Frankenstein the dreamer refuses to tell the story of his dreams and in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater DeQuincey expresses the need for a discourse to tell such a story effectively, Wuthering Heights dramatizes how the narrative of one's life and dreams can be a repression as well as a release or revelation. The Bronte family produced three novelists whose work may be read as offering alternative psychological visions for the sometimes repressive authority of their clergyman-father's theology. Emily's only novel is perhaps the most direct effort to substitute the secular for the sacred.48 Just as Catherine replaces the Testament in Wuthering Heights with the diary she titles "Catherine Earnshaw, her book," Emily's novel replaces the absolute authority of Scripture with a subversive, secular text of her own, which contains and expands upon her dreams of longing. The subversiveness of the novel is perhaps most deeply felt in its attack upon the notion of the self as a unified and coherent entity -- as an independent, immortal soul. In this respect, Wuthering Heights extends the psychological implications of Mary Shelley's and DeQuincey's conceptions of the invented self, recognizing that human personality is most accurately represented not as a single immortal soul but as a complex of psychological forces held in a tenuous, shifting configuration. This novel seeks to counteract the psychological danger played out in its characters' dreams and in their discourse on these dreams. That danger is not so much the failure to integrate the forces of the personality in a narrative act as it is the failure to recognize that an overly mastering {114} narrative may repress the vital, irrational aspects of the personality, especially if that narrative is sought from an outside authority -- sacred or secular -- rather than from within.

The dangers of such a repressive narrative are most apparent in the first narrator, Lockwood, and his reaction to the dreams in the paneled bed that once belonged to Catherine Earnshaw. There Catherine had dreamed as well, had carved her name into the wooden panels, and had preserved parts of her childhood in a diary. And there Heathcliff would also dream, finally dying triumphantly in the very chamber where Lockwood had dreamed of Cathy struggling to enter. The setting for these dreams makes up part of their content: the paneled bed and its window appear as images not only in Lockwood's dream of entrance and exclusion but in Cathy's feverish dreams of her childhood and in Heathcliff's final visions of Cathy as well. The site and substance of these dreams represent a psychic center for the novel, coloring all its events. Lockwood's dreams, like his entire experience at the Heights, present a challenge to his sense of himself, a challenge he may either explore or repress. He may see the dreams as symptoms of his own repression or dismiss them as ghosts and appropriate them as part of his repressive mechanisms. Dorothy Van Ghent has remarked that even the form in which much of the novel is told resembles a dream in its displacement of events into the past through the alternately censoring, indulging, and revising voice of Nelly Dean.49 Yet both Lockwood and Nelly fail to recognize that their narratives repeat that distortion, and they never understand what their dreams have to tell them.

Lockwood's narrative begins with a dream that wounds and disables him -- a dream for which the narrative presents itself as the cure. The problem for Lockwood, though he does not recognize it as a problem, is that the majority of this text that is his own diary is told in the words of someone else. The story Nelly tells as she nurses Lockwood back to health seems intended to enable his recovery, to provide the crucial element in the healing of his illness and in the recovery of control over his dreams. In that story Lockwood apparently seeks to comprehend and master the disordering experiences at the Heights which brought on his illness in the first place. "Keep your fingers from that bitter phalanx of vials," he orders Nelly when she is about to give him one of the medicines the doctor has prescribed for him. "Draw your knitting out of your pocket -- that will do -- now continue the history of Mr. Heathcliff, from where you left off, to the present day" (90). When Nelly's narrative is interrupted by the visit of a doctor to treat Lockwood's ailment, Lockwood again speaks explicitly of Nelly's story as an alternative to the medicine that the doctor is likely to provide: "I reflected as the good woman descended to receive the doctor; and not exactly of the kind which I {115} should have chosen to amuse me; but never mind! I'll extract wholesome medicines from Mrs. Dean's bitter herbs" (154).

Although Lockwood clearly recognizes in these statements that his disorder is not purely physical and that it demands some kind of narrative therapy, he mistakenly perceives Nelly as dispensing a miraculous treatment for his mental disturbances, which he need simply swallow like a pill. Lockwood may technically be the primary narrator of the novel, but he is obviously not the most important or powerful narrator. As he himself concedes, Nelly Dean is "a very fair narrator" on her own, and he finds it sufficient to give the story "in her own words, only a little condensed" (155). By his own admission, he exercises his narrative prerogatives over his experience only minimally, essentially handing over Nelly Dean's account as she offered it to him. This is not a tale that is told by the narrator at all but a tale in which the narrator seeks someone else to do the telling for him. In terms of the psychoanalytic model, which defines the talking cure as a joint venture enabling mutual discourse, the narrative pattern in this novel is a therapeutic failure.50 That Lockwood is a listener rather than a teller, however, is not his real failure. Even though he is presumably writing "his book," Lockwood errs by looking for the meaning of his experience not in an analysis of the experience itself or within his own life history but entirely in the words and experience of someone else. He remains an invalid through most of the text, subject to an overly intervening analyst who fails to recognize that the patient's dreams are symptoms that contain the basis for his recovery. Instead, Nelly employs her "wholesome medicines" like an anaesthetic. But if the narrative therapy of Wuthering Heights serves Lockwood as an agency of repression, it performs the same function for its speaker Nelly Dean. The final dream recounted in the novel is not Lockwood's, nor is it Cathy's or Heathcliff's. It is Nelly's. And that dream account reveals her entire narrative as an elaborate strategy of repression which disguises her own desires and fears even from herself.51

We learn of Lockwood's dreams and his ensuing illness in his own words in the short three-chapter passage that forms the first narrative frame for the novel. Whereas Nelly's narrative is at least manifestly given as a form of master purpose conversation with her ailing "master" on his sickbed, the purpose of Lockwood's narrative is less obvious. He affixes two dates to it, one at the very beginning and the other toward the end, when he resumes his account after a {116} hiatus of several months, at least suggesting that the narrative is some kind of journal in which he has simply recorded his strange experiences at Wuthering Heights strictly for his own purposes. Unlike Walton's letters in Frankenstein or DeQuincey's Confessions to his wife, Lockwood's journal recognizes no reader or listener and makes no attempt to address or acknowledge such a person. This omission figures strategically in such a novel as this, in which the narrative structure and situation are worked out in such careful and complex ways. Lockwood's narrative seems to be intended as a purely private document, a recording of events meant for no one's eyes but his own. This way, he can use it to reinforce his own delusions about himself.

As is true of the documents that make up Frankenstein, the stories, letters, and other documents of Wuthering Heights often contradict and compete with one another. And all of them, by her own admission, Nelly alters through her acts of narrative repression and revision. She alternately secretes and confiscates the letters and books exchanged by the younger Cathy and Linton Heathcliff, for example. She is reproached by Edgar Linton for keeping silent when she should have spoken in some cases, and she is rebuked for "beating tales" when she should have been more discreet. Over the course of the novel, Nelly shows herself to be more -- and less -- than the "fair narrator" of Lockwood's description. She becomes a more and more shrewd manager of information and a more and more skillful -- if unreliable -- narrator.52 But this skill is of a particular kind, put to a particular use. It is, in fact, more of a detriment than an advantage in psychological terms, since the narrative Nelly produces is employed as a tool of repression rather than understanding. While Nelly's and Lockwood's narrative styles and their relationships to those narratives vary, they have the same effect. Her diction represents Nelly as direct and unaffected, even if she presents herself as a manipulating character within her own tale. Lockwood remains supercilious and formal, as distanced in his diction as he is in his relation to the content of his tale. Yet the two conspire to produce a narrative of control which protects them from the subversive material within the narrative and denies the threatening forces within themselves and their dreams.

The first characteristic that connects Lockwood's dreams with his pattern of misreading and misinterpreting signs and symptoms in Wuthering Heights is that the images of the dreams emerge directly from Lockwood's listening to and his misreading of still another narrator. In the paneled bedchamber where Lockwood has taken refuge for the night, he discovers and begins to read Catherine's account of her own life -- first as it was carved into the windowsill itself and then as it was scrawled in the margins and blank pages {117} of the Testament to which she had given her own name (18). The very existence of the book and its retitling testify to Catherine's refusal to accept an external authority and her insistence upon asserting her own authority in its stead. Her rebellion is thus first made known in the form taken by her written account of herself. She essentially replaces the printed text with her own manuscript, replaces a sacred book with a secular one. "Scarcely one chapter had escaped a pen-and-ink commentary -- at least the appearance of one--," Lockwood notes, "covering every morsel of blank that the printer had left" (18). The content of the narrative bears out this impression of the rebellious Catherine, as Lockwood "decyphers" from her "faded hieroglyphics" the account of her and Heathcliff's decision "to rebel" against the "tyrant" Hindley and his zealous agent Joseph (18-19). That rebellion is signified by their kicking of Joseph's religious books into the dog kennel and their conspiring against Hindley's orders of confinement and separation by planning to take an illicit "scamper on the moors" together (20). In the writing of Catherine's book, rebellion takes the dual form of rejecting a sacred text and trespassing into forbidden territory.

Lockwood's reading of Catherine's book is connected with his dreams not only because one directly precedes the other but because her book provides the manifest content for his dreams. In fact, Lockwood falls asleep while reading the text as he notes the conflict between Catherine's "manuscript" and the "print" of the text itself. "I began to nod drowsily over the dim page," Lockwood recalls; "my eye wandered from manuscript to print. I saw a red ornamented title . . . 'Seventy Times Seven, and the First of the Seventy First. A pious Discourse delivered by the Reverend Jabes Branderham, in the Chapel of Gimmerden Sough'" (20). The dream that follows seems to be drawn directly from the "print" of the text, since it has to do with the sermon announced by the red ornamented rifle. The Second dream appears to be a product of Catherine's manuscript, since it involves her frequenting of the moors. But in fact, the two dreams are one dream that, like Lockwood's gaze, wanders between manuscript and print, combining the images of both in order to reveal the moral and psychological implications of Lockwood's refusal to engage and master his own experience and to accept responsibility for narrating it. The dream dramatizes a choice between two ways of regarding the nature of dreams, a choice between two kinds of "text" for constructing the story of one's life: a text that is given (in print) or one that is self-constructed (by hand). The first is sanctioned by religion; the second is hostile to it.

Lockwood is portrayed as a listener in both parts of the dream, just as he is in the narrative scheme of the novel itself. In the first part, Lockwood says that he "was condemned to hear" the sermon of Branderham, a "discourse" intent upon having the sinner who commits the unforgivable "First of the Seventy First" sin "publicly exposed and excommunicated" (21). Since {118} Lockwood has come to the country to ensure his own isolation from human contact, the sentence of excommunication seems appropriate and desirable for him. Yet, since he also clearly does not wish to be publicly exposed, the dream represents a threat as well. That the dream is primarily concerned with the making of texts and the act of interpretation is indicated by the situation of the dream, in which the "discourse" is an explication of still another text, namely, the phrase from Saint Matthew which calls for perpetual forgiveness of the offending brother so long as he asks for forgiveness, even if he asks "seventy times seven" times. This phrase, Lockwood tells us, the preacher "had his private manner of interpreting" (21). In the course of the long sermon, Lockwood becomes so impatient at being a passive listener forced to accept Branderham's explication of the text that he rises to assert his own interpretation and to accuse the preacher of the unforgivable four hundred and ninety-first sin. But what appears to be rebellion against the preacher's interpretation of the text in fact shows Lockwood adopting it.

The point of the biblical text is that there is no limit to the number of times forgiveness should be granted to the one who asks for it, that no sin is unforgivable. Branderham, however, has interpreted the text literally and established the figure of seventy times seven as the upper limit of grace.53 Lockwood effectively accepts this interpretation as correct and simply turns the implications on Branderham. When Lockwood echoes the accusation of his accuser, he begins to wrestle with Joseph and sets off a violent mob scene in which the community is effectively "excommunicated" en masse (21). What initially appears as an assertion of order by Lockwood is, like his narration itself, only a surrender to the "private interpretation" of another. But this surrender is also an act of violence to himself, an act of isolation and self-repression. The dream may be read as an expression of Lockwood's desire to remain unexposed, to suppress the dream by seeing -- as he saw in the biblical phrase -- only its manifest "text" without making any attempt to penetrate to the latent dream thoughts behind it.

This acceptance of a rigid textual interpretation is precisely what Catherine and Heathcliff, refuse. They recognize that Joseph's cruel and narrow interpretation of these texts is motivated by a desire to control them. They prefer to go their own way and write their own book. But throughout his narrative Lockwood continually accepts Nelly Dean's "private manner of interpreting" as he has Jabes Branderham's in his dream. This is what Cathy and Heathcliff adamantly refuse to do, insisting on their own interpretation of their own experience, in defiance of every custom and law that would keep them from doing so. Their community together survives the tests of their own betrayals, the divisions and accusations of their families, and -- as is {119} suggested in their dreams -- even their deaths. Catherine, moreover, as her dreams indicate, refuses to accept a purely rational, stable model of the self which does not accommodate the fundamental irrationality and desire that drive it. Immediately after she has told Nelly her dream of escape from heaven back to the moors, she goes on to claim that Heathcliff is "more myself than I am" (80). When she does so, Catherine is at the very least challenging the categories by which the self was conventionally defined.54

Lockwood's dream, however, is a desperate "self-defence," which is how he describes its final image (22). Analogously, his treatment of the entire dream is a defense of his conception of himself. The manifest dream content never reveals the "First of the Seventy First" sin, only that Lockwood is guilty of it in the eyes of the preacher. Lockwood's resistance to the sermon is not his transgression, since Branderham forgives him that failing. "This is human weakness," the preacher says; "this also may be absolved" (22). Nevertheless, Branderham still holds Lockwood accountable for the unnamed, unforgivable sin. That sin is not revealed to him until the second part of his dream, when Catherine Linton effectively exposes Lockwood's crime as his failure to make the testament of his dream into his book. The second part begins when the sounds of a fir tree outside Lockwood's window dissolve into the clawing sounds of Catherine's hand clutching at that same window and her "melancholy voice" implores to be let in. The child Catherine, then, effectively replaces the preacher Branderham as the speaking voice of the dream. In contrast to the previous vision, this part of the dream shows Lockwood immediately attempting "to silence" the voice, "to exclude" the words that Catherine repeatedly wails to him: "Let me in -- let me in" (23). This request is the message that Lockwood absolutely refuses to hear, and it provokes him to another uncharacteristic act of violence. Though he has endured four hundred ninety parts of James Branderham's sermon, Lockwood cannot endure these three words of Catherine's because they represent a far more profound accusation than that leveled by the preacher. "I must stop it," he insists feverishly, crashing through the window, grabbing the hand of the child, and scraping it over the broken glass until her blood drenches his sheets.

Lockwood "must stop" Catherine's request for admission because it represents forces he believes he must deny. Most obviously, the dream figures his refusal to permit passion and intimacy into his life. The bloody scene of penetration and exclusion manifests a desire for erotic experience which is overcome by a repressive fear of it. This violent exclusion of the female figure from his bed recalls the attraction Lockwood has already admitted for the younger Cathy Linton and the failed love affair from which he has {120} recently fled. But in a deeper sense, to shut out the child at his window is to shut out his own past, the "me" Lockwood will not let in. Like the first part of the dream, the second is also a self-defense. Lockwood attempts to maintain a conception of himself as independent and self-sufficient by repressing anything about himself he fears he cannot control. The goal of every action Lockwood performs within the dream is to silence and exclude. His behavior is finally unforgivable because by its very nature it precludes acknowledgment of the self and confession to another.55 But his failure goes farther in the dream by literally dramatizing how the forces of the unconscious can be as effectively suppressed within the "text" of a dream account as they can be exposed. Lockwood himself describes his struggle within the dream as an attempt to "disengage myself," and his obfuscating account of the dream to Heathcliff when he wakes up functions to "disengage" him from his own dream as well (23).

In his desperate attempt to "exclude" the child from his dream and to wall it out of his consciousness, Lockwood employs the books in the room to create a protective buffer between himself and the forces of his unconscious. Perhaps the most deftly constructed image of repression in this dream is this picture of Lockwood when he "piled the books up in a pyramid" against the broken window "and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer" (23). Paradoxically, Lockwood uses Catherine's own books to exclude her voice, the very books that record both her refusal to accept what was printed in them and her determination to articulate her own passions. Nevertheless, Lockwood converts these texts into agencies of repression. Whereas Catherine is an author whose "manuscript" rebels against and supersedes the "print" that it surrounds, Lockwood's journal reveals him to be a passive reader dominated by the narrative of someone else -- as long as the content of that narrative does not touch him in any personal way. He allows the "print" of Nelly's text to go unrevised, unexplained, and unexplored by any "manuscript" of his own. Just as he excludes the child from his dream, he manages to produce a narrative that effectively excludes and "disengages" himself as well.

The two parts of Lockwood's dream demonstrate his lack of desire to comprehend it and to provide an interpretation that mediates between his conscious and his unconscious self. This failure is manifested when his shouts of terror wake him and he gives the partial account of his "frightful nightmare" to Heathcliff. Lockwood's descriptions of his dream are expressed in the conventional "gothic" terms of possession: he dismisses its images as a swarm of "ghosts and goblins," speaks specifically of the image {121} of Catherine as a "little fiend," a "changeling," and a "spectre," and he regards the entire dream as nothing more than "another proof that the place was haunted" (24, 25, 27). These superstitious denials and projections distinguish Lockwood from the other important dreamers of the novel -- Catherine and Heathcliff -- who treat their dreams as serious statements about themselves and at least attempt to come to terms with the claims of those dreams and to incorporate them into their understanding of themselves.56 But Lockwood's attitude perfectly aligns him with Nelly, who admits to being "superstitious about dreams" because they only succeed in "conjuring up ghosts and visions to perplex us" (79). The images and actions in her dream of repression, which occurs later in the narrative, directly recall this dream of Lockwood's (330). Like Victor Frankenstein, Lockwood and Nelly prefer to think of their unconscious experience as something alien and unrelated to them, and their stories are committed to preserving this illusion. Also like Frankenstein, they make use of a supernatural explanation of their dreams, in the course refusing to consider those dreams as symptoms or to think of their dream accounts as ways to understand those symptoms.

When he leaves Wuthering Heights for the last time, Lockwood pauses before the graves of Catherine and Heathcliff directly after listening to and feeling "irresistibly impelled to escape" from the final story told to him by Nelly of the young shepherd boy's encounter the moors. Lockwood's flight from that story repeats his denial of the implications in all he had heard and dreamed about at Wuthering Heights. When Nelly says "I saw nothing" in response to the shepherd boy's claims, she speaks for Lockwood as well; and though Lockwood has spent so much time listening, he has really heard nothing either (336). In this very last sentence of the novel, and presumably the last entry in his journal, Lockwood still portrays himself as a listener who does not hear: he "listened," he says, "to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth" (338). Once again bereft of human contact, Lockwood is shown listening only to the wind, excluding with the last words of his journal the possibility of intimacy and self-knowledge as insistently as he excluded Catherine's prayer to be "let in" in his own unquiet slumbers. Thanks to his -- and Nelly's -- narrative, Lockwood's world remains as quiet as the earth he cannot imagine otherwise. And though he has recovered physically, he leaves Wuthering Heights as psychologically damaged as when he arrived.

But Catherine and Heathcliff have never slept quietly. They do not narrate the text in the way that Nelly and Lockwood do. They "interrupt" Nelly's {122} narrative as she interrupts Lockwood's. And they dominate her narrative as much as she does his. But they do so very differently from Nelly: Catherine and Heathcliff make Nelly their listener as Lockwood makes her his narrator. Just as Lockwood submits himself to Nelly's care and manipulation, Catherine and Heathcliff rebel against her didactic moralizing and reject her interpretation of their dreams. As is true of Lockwood's dreams (and of Frankenstein's and DeQuincey's as well), Catherine's and Heathcliff's dreams are associated with their psychic illness. The dreams become symptoms and efforts at recovery. But the similarities end here. Catherine and Heathcliff both refuse the ministrations offered by Nelly when they are sick, just as they refuse her dismissal of the import of their dreams. They will not repress their dreams, even if the only firsthand account of them we have is the book of Catherine's which is suppressed within Lockwood's.

Catherine and Heathcliff both die in Lockwood's narrative, and their deaths may be read as implicit affirmations of Lockwood's and Nelly Dean's strategies of repression, as a warning of the danger of recognizing and indulging the passions that drive the psyche. But the conflict between the two points of view the novel dramatizes -- between civilization and its discontents -- may also be read as an incipient critique of the Victorian "theory of repression," which demanded a choice between absolute capitulation to the extreme repression of culture and mad surrender to intense passion -- a choice that the discourse of psychology and psychoanalysis sought to mediate. My reading of the novel affiliates Wuthering Heights with the other gothic texts I examine here in that it too calls attention to the costs of not having a discourse in which to perform this act of mediation. Catherine and Heathcliff become victims of a cultural conception of personality which denies rather than integrates passion and irrationality in the formation of the self.57

This interpretation is supported by. the final words of one of the key figures in this novel of recovery -- the doctor, Kenneth. Kenneth is a pervasive character in Nelly Dean's narrative. He treats all the sick persons in the novel, including not only Catherine and Heathcliff but also Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw, Hindley, Edgar Linton, Linton Heathcliff, and even Nelly and Lockwood. In his last appearance in the novel, the doctor examines Heathcliff just before he dies and "was perplexed to pronounce of what disorder the master died" (336). Indeed, Kenneth presides over at least seven deaths during the course of the novel and is perplexed to explain any of them. This perplexity evidences Kenneth's diagnostic limits, his inability to understand the symptoms of his patients. The language required to accomplish what Catherine and Heathcliff desired and dreamed of did not yet exist. As a {123] result, Lockwood can continue to regard these two figures of passion as "ghosts" in his last visit to the Heights, just as he had regarded Catherine as a ghost in his dream.

But like DeQuincey's Confessions, Wuthering Heights not only demonstrates this need for a discourse; it seeks to fill that lack as well. Charlotte Bronte's defenses of her sister's novel often deal directly with the nature of its language. In the course of mounting those defenses, Charlotte indicates that Emily may have succeeded in breaking new ground in the development of a discourse to explain psychological experience. In her Biographical Notice on her two novelist sisters, Charlotte compares the critics of Wuthering Heights to the superstitious "mob of Astrologers, Chaldeans, and Soothsayers gathered before the 'writing on the wall' . . . unable to read the characters or make known the interpretation." Then, in the preface Charlotte wrote for the second edition, she once again diagnoses the failure to understand the novel as a linguistic failure by the culture that reads the book. She defends the "rough, strong utterance" and "harshly manifested passions" of the novel against those who "have been trained from their cradle to observe the utmost evenness of manner and guardedness of language."58 Charlotte recognizes the problems and passions of the book as essentially diagnostic and linguistic: the prophetic writing that Emily's strange hand had etched on the wall of culture remained mysterious and unreadable to Victorian readers, whose language was too heavily guarded and too refined in manner to represent the passions at the heart of Wuthering Heights. In opposing its publication and insisting on preserving the secret of her authorship of Wuthering Heights right up to her death, Emily seemed to know in advance that her book would remain as subversive and scandalous as the one written by Catherine Earnshaw.

This very problem is reenacted within the novel when Catherine tells her first dream to Nelly and reveals the "secret" of her deep love for Heathcliff. Her love is a secret because it has to do with a reality that Nelly Dean does not know and cannot comprehend, a reality that the culture sought both to suppress and to mystify.59 The reality of that inner life seems "very strange" to Nelly; faced with Catherine's discourse about it, Nelly admits that she "cannot make it out" (79). When Catherine tries to "explain" her secret, she laments that she "can't do it distinctly" (79). Only by telling Nelly a dream can Catherine convey "a feeling of how I feel" (79). She recognizes that her {124} constitute a language that can convey the otherwise "secret" aspects of herself in a way prohibited by conventional social intercourse. She does not perceive her dreams as hauntings of her mind by a demon or a specter as Lockwood does. Rather, they are sources of truth about her own mind which she heeds and integrates into her conception of herself. Catherine makes these claims directly to Nelly as she introduces her dream: "I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one -- I'm going to tell it -- but take care not to smile at any part of it" (79). In addition to representing her dream as something she both produces and is altered by, Catherine also acknowledges here that the telling of her dream is vital to it. When Nelly tries to silence Catherine's dream account because dreams are nothing more than the "conjuring up of ghosts and visions," therefore, Catherine responds with a simple insistence that her dream be told: "I shall oblige you to listen" (79).

Like Lockwood's dream, Catherine's begins with an exclusion. But unlike his, it develops into a dream of entrance. Also like Lockwood's, her dream deals -- at least on the manifest level -- with religious material. But whereas he dreams he is in a chapel listening to a sermon, she dreams she is in heaven angering the angels: "Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out, into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy That will do to explain my secret" (80). Catherine "explains" to Nelly that this dream is no conjuring of ghosts but a representation of her "secret" self, a picture of the difference between her desires for Edgar and for Heathcliff. "He's more myself than I am," she says of Heathcliff, distinguishing him from Edgar. "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire" (80). Cathy has nevertheless decided to marry Edgar because she recognizes and accepts the compromises she must make for the sake of convention and practicality. But she will not allow this capitulation to diminish her love for Heathcliff in any way, nor will it alter her intention to remain close to him. "Nelly, I am Heathcliff -- he's always, always in my mind -- not as pleasure, any, more than I am always a pleasure to myself -- but, as my own being -- so, don't talk of our separation again" (82).60

{125} At the very minimum, these statements indicate that Catherine's dream has profoundly "changed" her "ideas" about herself, has "altered the colour of [her] mind," has brought her into another way of describing her "soul," has caused her to reevaluate the role of pleasure in her life, and has generally increased her knowledge of who she believes herself in essence to be. One clear implication of her claim that she is Heathcliff is that Catherine sees herself as at least partly constituted by the object of her desire. Such remarks make plain that the most dramatic distinction between her dream and Lockwood's is the degree to which their dreams inform them about themselves. This essential difference is reflected in the way each regards and speaks about the dream event afterward. Lockwood dreams about himself and other people, and in his account of the dream turns the other people into ghosts and specters -- from whom he must then flee in terror. Catherine dreams about herself and angels, and in her analysis of the dream, proceeds to convert those supernatural beings into images of the people who figure in her own waking desires. What is an opportunity for self-discovery and self-revision for Catherine remains an occasion for self-defense and denial by Lockwood. His dream is employed to reinforce his sense of what is inside and outside of himself; Catherine's dream opens up and realigns those boundaries.

This dream of Catherine's anticipates another that she obliges Nelly to hear. After she marries Edgar and he demands that she never see Heathcliff again, Catherine becomes seriously ill and in her delirium has dreams that appall her. She is not too appalled to tell them, however, as she proves by describing to Nelly one dream in which she imagines herself to be a child again, sleeping in her own paneled bedchamber back at the Heights:

Most strangely, the whole last seven years of my life grew a blank! I did not recall that they had been at all. I was a child; my father was just buried, and my misery arose from the separation that Hindley had ordered between me and Heathcliff -- I was laid alone, for the first time, and rousing from a dismal doze after a night of weeping -- I lifted my hand to push the panels aside, it struck the table top! I swept it along the carpet, and then, memory burst in -- my late anguish was swallowed in a paroxysm of despair." (125).
Catherine yearns to hear the same "wind sounding in the firs by, the lattice" which a frenzied Lockwood had tried to silence by breaking the window. Lockwood's reinforcement of his confinement is again opposed by her desire to overcome it. In a related way, Catherine's dream opposes Lockwood's, both in the way she regards it and in the way she goes about uncovering its latent content. Even in her delirium, she recognizes that the images of this dream encode her past and its relation to her present.

As she begins to explicate the dream to Nelly, Catherine immediately connects her repressed childhood desires for Heathcliff as they are repre- {126} sented in the dream with the conditions of her marriage to Edgar and with her current confusion about who she is. The dream shows her that she is not a single, unified person but subject to a number of traumatic internal and external forces, which demand that she be different persons at different times and under different circumstances. The analogy she draws between her dream and her experience has, she says, deeply "unsettled" her: "Supposing at twelve years old I had been wrenched from the Heights, and every early association, and my all in all, as Heathcliff was at that time, and been converted at a stroke into Mrs. Linton, the lady of Thrushcross Grange, and the wife of a stranger; an exile, and outcast, thenceforth, from what had been my world -- You may fancy a glimpse of the abyss where I grovelled!" (125). This is, of course, essentially what did happen to Cathy, and what happened to most young women when they married. Her dream indicates that the "conversion" from child to woman is never absolute, that "the child and the child's impulses live on," as Freud put it, within the adult (Interpretation of Dreams, 191). When in her fever after the dream Catherine asks Nelly, "Why am I so changed?" (126), she might just as well have asked, "Why am I so unchanged?" "Why do I still feel like a child?" These questions cannot be fully answered within the discourse of this novel; they remain repressed, etched only in the shadowy figures of the characters' dreams and the unreadable script of Catherine's book.

When Edgar denies the seriousness of Catherine's state of mind and escapes into his books, he appalls Catherine and aligns himself with the repressions of Lockwood. Edgar insulates himself in his library in order to wall himself off from the implications of Heathcliff's and Catherine's more deeply felt desires, just as Lockwood will do first with the books in his dream and once again with the journal in his waking life. Books have already played a central role in the relationship between Edgar and Catherine, for their exchanging of books and their literary discussions make up much of their courtship and succeed in alienating Heathcliff from Cathy as well. But now Edgar's literary life has become monstrous to Cathy because, rather than use books to express emotion, he uses them to repress it. When Catherine asks Nelly, "What in the name of all that feels, has he to do with books, when I am dying?" she directly opposes the forces of passion to those of textuality (122). She knows that these books represent the forces in the culture which are killing her, setting up the very divisions within herself that still her voice, waste her spirit, separate her from the object of her desire, and make her into a stranger to herself -- unable even to recognize her own image in the mirror.

I have argued that Bronte's novel expresses a desire for a more adequate medical language to replace the rhetoric of religion and to mediate more effectively between irrational emotional states and the demands of practical life. In Edgar's retreat into his library, just as in Joseph's tyrannical use of the Bible and in Lockwood's repressive use of books, the novel demonstrates the {127} risk of mediating strategies that do not sufficiently come to terms with the very forces they are intended to confront. Books become important aspects of the plot twice more in the novel: when the younger Catherine reads to Linton Heathcliff in an unsuccessful attempt at treating his illness and at the conclusion when Catherine reads with Hareton and raises the promise of finally resolving the conflict that has raged between the forces within novel, from the outset. The books in these scenes are employed more responsibly than Lockwood's and Edgar's and they respond more effectively to Heathcliff's compulsive repetition of the plot of revenge. Heathcliff's compulsion is also dispelled in the set of dreams that immediately precede his death. Those dreams take place as Catherine and Hareton come together through the mediation of a set of texts that offer the promise, at least, of a language that expresses rather than represses the forces that drive the unconscious.

Linton Heathcliff's arrival at Thrushcross Grange begins the second half of the story of Wuthering Heights, just as his father's arrival began the first half. The younger Heathcliff is ill when he appears there, and so he remains for the rest of his short life. Heathcliff exploits his son's illness, using it to lure Cathy to the ailing child to complete his plot of revenge. "He pines for kindness, as well as love," Heathcliff tells Cathy, "and a kind word from you would be his best medicine" (234). Heathcliff's plea for curative language is more appropriate than he realizes. Her loving words do seem to sustain the sickly child, and when Catherine is prohibited by her father from seeing Linton, she sends books as substitutes for her presence with love letters hidden within them. And when she does succeed in visiting Linton, she usually spends. her time reading books or reciting ballads to him as part of her treatment of his sickness. But his health does not improve under her ministrations, and in one scene the source of his protracted illness is symptomatized in a dream. Linton suddenly "started from his slumber in bewildered terror, and asked if anyone had called his name" (263). Apparently "under the spell of the imaginary voice" of his father, Linton repeatedly dreams of his father calling his name. Linton never acknowledges any other content to these dreams but remains under their spell just as he is under his father's imperious spell in his waking life. The ballads and stories he demands from Cathy are only diversions from this manipulation, momentary relief from the repressive authority of his father's voice. They perform the same function as Nelly's palliative tale to Lockwood, who is also unable to relate the narrative to his own symptomatic dreams or to master the forces that speak within them.

The intricate pattern of dreams that emerges from the paneled bedchamber of Wuthering Heights is completed by the imaginary speaker of that voice -- Heathcliff, in his fitful dreams of Catherine just before he dies. These dreams occur immediately after he painfully witnesses Cathy and Hareton's developing intimacy and he identifies himself with them. The {128} children's relationship is based on books: they exchange them as gifts, and Cathy teaches Hareton to read them. "Do you ever dream, Hareton?" Cathy asks him just before their intimacy begins. "And, if you do, what is it about? But, you can't speak to me!" (311). In this remark, Cathy indicates that her love and instruction of Hareton are both directed at giving him the power of articulating his desires to her, at teaching him how to tell her his dreams.

But Heathcliff seems to benefit from this instruction at least as much as Hareton. Nelly repeats Heathcliff's account of the night he disinterred Catherine as part of his plan to join his body with hers, and then dreamed about her. He explains to Nelly how his longing for Cathy had driven him to having her grave opened to fulfill his dream of "sleeping the last sleep, by that sleeper, with my heart stopped, and my cheek frozen against hers" (289). He then reveals how after visiting Cathy's grave, he felt compelled to return to the paneled bed, convinced he would meet her spirit there:

When I slept in her chamber . . . I couldn't lie there; for the moment I closed my eyes, she was either outside the window, or sliding back the panel, or entering the room, or even resting her darling head on the same pillow as she did when a child. And I must open my lids to see. And so I opened and closed them a hundred times a-night -- to be always disappointed! It racked me! I've often groaned aloud, til that old rascal Joseph no doubt believed that my conscience was playing the fiend inside of me. (290-91)
Heathcliff's dream connects directly to Lockwood's and Catherine's in its placement of the dreamer at the same threshold of entry and exclusion. Heathcliff welcomes the same visitor whom Lockwood had so violently excluded. But for Heathcliff, the dream figure is both adult and child, present and absent, inside and outside the window. And while this dream hardly qualifies as a moment of profound psychological insight for Heathcliff, its effect upon him is to relieve a state of mental desperation rather than to create one as it had for Lockwood. "Now, since I've seen her, I'm pacified -- a little," he tells Nelly, echoing the claim he had made a moment before that when he saw Catherine's dead body in the gave, "a sudden sense of relief flowed from my heart" (291, 290). Heathcliff's strong conviction that at least in his dreams Catherine's spirit is with him, even if her body is not, indicates that to some degree he shares the idea her dreams had suggested to Catherine: the self is partially constituted by the object of its desire.61 {129} Moreover, Heathcliff sees the dream as an expression of something from "inside" him, not the "fiend" of "conscience" he speculates Joseph would consider it.

Nevertheless, Heathcliff is tormented by this dream of "disappointment" just as Catherine had been in her later dreams. Like hers, this dream is a symptom of a deepening mental depression that will lead to death. Just before he dies, Heathcliff recalls Catherine's earlier dream of heaven and the opposition it dramatized between spiritual and psychological interpretations of the self. When Nelly attempts to make him read his Bible and confess his sins, Heathcliff corrects her. "I have nearly attained my heaven," he says, "and that of others is altogether unvalued and uncoveted by me" (334). Heathcliff's inability to explain his death drive here resembles Catherine's in dramatizing the cultural inability to describe psychological reality in any effective way. But his achievement resembles Catherine's as well. Both discredit the "heaven" of religion and prefer to seek after a realization of the desires of their own minds. Nelly speaks for a society that finds repression the best way to deal with such experience when she responds to Heathcliff's dream account with the same resistance that marked her response to Cathy's. "I maintained silence," Nelly says; "I didn't like to hear him talk" (291). In a deeper way than she intends, Nelly is right when she says that Catherine died "in a gentle dream." Catherine and Heathcliff both end their lives as they had lived them -- according to the unarticulated truth of their dreams -- while the narrators of the novel survive by refusing to listen to or talk directly about their dreams.

"Thus ended Mrs. Dean's story," Lockwood says, as he introduces his own brief postscript to it. "Notwithstanding the doctor's prophecy," he continues, "I am rapidly recovering strength" (298). Lockwood's "recovery," however, is only physical, just as Heathcliff's and Catherine's deaths are only physical. His listening to "Mrs. Dean's" story could not cure the illness of which his dreams of terror were symptoms. He wanders away from Wuthering Heights, the solitary misanthrope he came. His real cure can only take place in the telling of his story, not Mrs. Dean's. The dream plot of Wuthering Heights is therefore appropriately completed by her dream, which she tells Lockwood in her "sequel of Heathcliff's history" (309-10). Nelly recounts this sequel at the very end of the novel, when Lockwood returns to Wuthering Heights after an absence of several months. Lockwood is again confused and disturbed by his visit to the Heights. This time he is bewildered by the absence of Heathcliff and the sudden rapport between Cathy and Hareton as she teaches him to read.

In response to his confusion, Nelly resumes her narrative and informs Lockwood that Heathcliff has died. Then, in the course of explaining the details surrounding her master's death, she tells her dream. As Heathcliff {130} grew more and more seriously ill, he would compulsively retreat into the paneled bedchamber. On the night before he died in that spot, Nelly began to reflect upon Heathcliff's origins and on her long association with him. "Is he a ghoul, or a vampire?" she asks herself, speculating about where "the little dark thing" they called Heathcliff could have come from. Finally, as Nelly remembers how she has "followed him almost through his whole course," and as he takes his place in the dream center of the novel, she dreams a dream of her own that reveals the depth of her feelings about him:

I dozed into unconsciousness. And I began, half dreaming, to weary myself with imaging some fit parentage for him; and repeating my waking meditations, I tracked his existence over again, with grim variations; at last, picturing his death and funeral; of which all I can remember is being exceedingly vexed at having the task of dictating an inscription for his monument, and consulting the sexton about it; and, as he had no surname, and we could not tell his age, we were obliged to content ourselves with the single word, "Heathcliff." (330)
Nelly's waking speculations about Heathcliff's demonic character are transformed in the dream into fantasies of his birth or even of his conception ("imaging some fit parentage"), and then into a desire for his death and burial ("picturing his death and funeral"). In its manifest content, then, this is the most explicit dream representation of the merging of the erotic and morbid impulses that have driven all the characters in the novel and, Freud would claim, always drive the unconscious. But beyond that, the dream also manifests Nelly's desire to repress those impulses under the "single word" of her dictation, to bury them with her text.

In Nelly's dream, the "little dark thing" Heathcliff is the figure of desire he has been for everyone throughout the novel. He first arrived in Wuthering Heights as the father's substitute fulfillment of the desires of Catherine, Hindley, and Nelly. This "fatherless child" replaced the gifts Earnshaw had promised to bring them from the city, just as his name, taken from Earnshaw's son who had died in childhood, marks Heathcliff as a figure of Earnshaw's desires as well (36). Heathcliff occupies virtually every role in the psychic economy of the novel: he is dispossessed orphan and tyrannical father, servant and master, victim and tormentor, husband and lover, the embodiment of brutality and the soul of sentiment. He finally acquires power over everything and everyone in the world of Wuthering Heights, then dies of some self-induced illness. He consistently acts as an expression of uncontrolled individualism, ultimately subversive to all forms of social authority -- legal, familial, religious, even medical. Perhaps Heathcliff's most scandalous action is also the one that most clearly represents his function in the novel. When he digs Catherine's body up and exposes her to decay, he breaks down {131} the final structure in which her culture sought to contain her. Heathcliff first arrives at Wuthering Heights speaking a language that sounds like "gibberish" to Nelly Dean, a language that "nobody could understand" (35). Throughout the novel, Heathcliff remains the cipher about whom everyone in the novel speculates -- the other whose language no one is able to understand and who challenges and subverts their conceptions of themselves as well.62

The erotic scenes sketched out in Nelly's dream account show Heathcliff to be the "dark thing" that she too has "followed through his whole course," the secret object of her own fears and desires, as he has been for all the other characters. But the dream goes farther to show how Nelly has buried her desire, repressed it with a linguistic strategy, erased it by literally "dictating" another text resembling the one she dictates to Lockwood. Like the story she tells Lockwood, the narrative she has the task of inscribing in the dream is a "history" of Heathcliff's life. This too is a narrative of censorship, though in this case it contains only one word -- "Heathcliff" -- and the date of his death. Much as Lockwood had used the books in his dream to keep out the voice of his desires, Nelly uses this "text" to lay the voice of her dreams to rest, literally to mark the grave of her desire. The dream reveals Nelly's wish to preserve the indecipherability of the principle subject of the text, the "he" who is "more myself than I am," as Cathy put it. In her dream, Nelly buries the same force that in her story she disinters. The same perplexity Kenneth feels in trying to diagnose Heathcliff's illness and determine the cause of his death precludes Nelly Dean from speaking the psychological truth about her desires. She makes no comment on the significance of her dream to Lockwood or anyone else. Like him, she takes refuge in silence instead, allowing the origins of the unspeakable dark things that drive her unconscious to remain in the mysterious realm of her dreams.

Just as Emily Bronte's novel deals with the same dream material that accompanied her illness as a young woman, the course of the illness that finally took her life bears uncanny resemblances to the disorders that preceded the deaths of Catherine and Heathcliff. Like her fictional protagonists, Emily seems to have suffered from a self-induced disease. Also like {132} them, she refused the attention of her family and the doctors they consulted, both of whom were bewildered as to the cause of Emily's distress. In a letter written on the day Emily would die, Charlotte seems to echo the words of Nelly Dean on Dr. Kenneth's diagnosis of Heathcliff. She observes in dismay that "the physician's opinion was expressed too obscurely to be of use" in helping them to care for Emily. "He sent some medicine which she would not take," Charlotte says with resignation.63 Like the sufferers in Wuthering Heights, Emily suffered at least in part from this "obscurity" with which her society understood and expressed her symptoms. Her sickness was surely related to the cold she caught at her brother's funeral, which was the last time she left the house before she died. But even before that cold developed into a more serious inflammation of the lungs, Emily inexplicably began to retreat into herself and withdrew behind a veil of almost complete silence, "too ill to occupy herself," according to Charlotte, "with anything but reading."64 Most frustrating for Charlotte and the family was Emily's absolute refusal to speak about her illness: "She resolutely refuses to see a doctor; she will not give an explanation for her feelings, she will scarcely allow her illness to be alluded to."65 In her novel, Emily had already dramatized the costs of an inability to '"give an explanation" of deep feelings. With her last audible words she finally agreed to allow a doctor to see her. But she died before he came, and before her culture could produce a medical discourse to explain her feelings and the still-uninterpreted dreams in which they were expressed.

These very different gothic texts, Frankenstein, DeQuincey's Confessions, and Wuthering Heights, all present the narrative of a life suffering from some disorder, that inhibits the presentation of the narrative itself. All three texts dramatize the convergence of disturbing dreams, physical and mental illness, and either an unavoidable inarticulateness about or a determined suppression of the exact nature of these subjects. The possibility of regarding the dream as an expression of the dreamer's desire is in each case opposed by the diction of supernatural possession, which enables the dream to be disowned as an alien presence. But the choice of the supernatural alternative is consistently shown as regressive in these texts, invariably producing a deformed narrative of some kind -- a narrative that remains as a scar, a sign of the failure of the narrator to master the forces within his or her own tale. To varying degrees, these narrators are all failed autobiographers, then, who {133} have been unable to become the authors of a complete life story of recovery from their disordered state. But their failure has succeeded in expressing a need for a language that can accomplish that goal, for the terms in which the symptomatic confusion of the dream can be diagnosed. Their collective achievement is the rearticulation of the Victorian self as a psyche subject to disease rather than a soul subject to demons.

These gothic texts represent only one set of the many popular narrative attempts to deal with this problem in the nineteenth century, efforts at reconstructing a notion of individual identity with a language that could give new names to and organize the forces that drive the self. Nelly's inability to name Heathcliff's origins in her dream indicates her inability, or refusal, to name the origins of her own desires, the origins of the essential forces that shape her own life story. This discursive failure provokes what Foucault has called a "discursive explosion" in the nineteenth century, which culminated in the discourse of psychoanalysis. As evidence of the "medicalization" of the confession during this period, Foucault notes the simultaneous "metamorphosis" in literary form and taste: "We have passed from a pleasure to be recounted and heard, centering on the heroic or marvelous narration of 'trials' of bravery or sainthood, to a literature ordered according to the infinite task of extracting from the depths of the self, in between the words, a truth which the very form of the confession holds out like a shimmering mirage."66 But this literary metamorphosis in turn may be said to have shaped the very medicalization to which Foucault attributes it. As Freud was to admit in his first full-length analysis of a case of hysteria (1892-1894), the narrative forms of fiction provided the explanatory models that led to his own shift from a physiological to a psychological understanding of hysterical symptoms: "I have not always been a psychotherapist. Like other neuropathologists, I was trained to employ local diagnoses and electroprognosis, and it still strikes me myself as strange that the case histories I write should read like short stories and that, as one might say, they lack the serious stamp of science. . . . The fact is that local diagnosis and electrical reactions lead nowhere in the study of hysteria, whereas a detailed description of mental processes such as we are accustomed to find in the works of imaginative writers enables me, with the use of a few psychological formulas, to obtain at least some kind of insight into the course of that affection."67 The stamp of Freud's science and the stamp of gothic fiction bear profound resemblances. Of the gothic tale of illness and cure he treated in Delusion and Dream, Freud said that he merely "reproduce[d] it in the technical terms of our science" (66).

{134} It should be noted, however, that the gothic texts I have examined here also provided examples of the potentially repressive power of a medical discourse for the self. In Wuthering Heights, for example, where the association of dream experience with medical discourse is most directly called for, the professional physician in the text is as much a tool of repressive social forces as the clergyman. As modern feminist critiques of psychoanalysis have shown more dramatically, even a medical language can be deployed to "subject" individuals rather than free them. John Kucich's study of repression in Victorian fiction also speaks directly to this issue by emphasizing a more subversive and productive use of repression in the nineteenth-century novel. Rather than restrict the expression of identity, repression as understood in these terms could help serve the individual by establishing and valorizing a secret, libidinal interiority that could resist the incursions of social monitoring.68 Novels like Wuthering Heights actually dramatize a dialectic between two opposing Victorian uses of repression, setting the forces of an insistent privacy and self-defense, on the one hand, over against the impulses of revolt and self-liberation by a boundaryless self, on the other. When the dynamic of the novel is viewed in this way, as such Marxist critics as Terry Eagleton have done, its demands for a mediating language might be construed in political or economic rather than medical terms. In fact, as Freud (and the novels treated in the next chapters) would demonstrate, the discourses of medicine, politics, and economics were not always separable in the representation of the self in the nineteenth century. More often than not, they were inextricably bound together.

In Jane Eyre and Great Expectations, like any number of nineteenth-century novels that take the form of autobiographies, the forces of the gothic are absorbed and redeployed in more conventional settings and plots. The affiliation between the intentions of these novels and those of the gothic is as plain as their common reliance upon the confessional form. At one point in her fictional autobiography, Jane Eyre even refers to a monstrous dream figure in her life -- Bertha Mason -- as a "vampyre," whereas in his account of his life, Pip compares himself to a Frankenstein who has made a monster of his own existence. Like the gothic texts produced throughout the period, the fictional autobiography poses the central question of authority in the life story through the narrator's discourse about his or her dreams and the voices that are understood to be speaking through those dreams. Here the dream operates less as a symptom of an illness than as capital in the psychic economy of the self. The production of a dream account comes to represent something like a psychic "cost" of ownership which the narrator must pay in {135} order to produce and take possession of his or her "self." The dominant discourse of mastery with which the self is represented and recovered in these texts, therefore, derives not so much from medical science as from economics. The narrator's goal is not to heal the self by telling these stories but to own the self and the raw materials of the unconscious.


1. Letter of Horace Walpole to the Reverend William Cole, 9 March 1765, quoted in the Introductory Essay of Three Gothic Novels, ed. Mario Praz (1968), p. 17.

2. A number of studies of the gothic novel have emphasized its nightmarish quality. See Elizabeth MacAndrew, The Gothic Tradition in Fiction (1979); Judith Wilt, Ghosts of the Gothic: Austen, Eliot and Lawrence (1980); and William Patrick Day, In the Circles of Fear and Desire: A Study of Gothic Fantasy (1985). For a more specific consideration of the dreams of female characters in eighteenth-century fiction, see Margaret Anne Doody, "Deserts, Ruins, and Troubled Waters: Female Dreams in Fiction and Development of the Gothic Novel," Genre 10 (Winter 1977): 529-72.

3. See Henri F. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry (1970). Ellenberger speaks of the two basic theoretical dispositions toward the mind during sleep as "open" theories (which regarded the dreaming mind as in communication with some mysterious other realm, whether it was a previous life, a disincarnated spirit, or simply some transcendent reality) and "closed" theories (which explained the dream material as composed of forgotten memories or sense impressions). He identified four approaches to the function of dreams at the turn of the century which grew out of these two positions: (1) a conservative function (to preserve traces of the past lost to conscious memory); (2) a dissolutive function (to aid in the transformation of once-conscious acts into unconscious, habitual acts); (3) a creative function (to produce lucid expressions of "higher" truths unavailable to the conscious mind); and (4) a mythopoetic function (to create cultural myth -- often associated with the activity of mediums and somnambulism). See especially pp. 145-70 and 311-21.

4. Sigmund Freud, "On the Mechanism of Paranoia," SE 12:71.

5. Freud, "A Seventeenth-Century Demonological Neurosis," SE 19:72, hereafter cited in the text.

6. T. S. Eliot, "Dante," Selected Essays of T. S. Eliot (1960), p. 204.

7. James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 214.

8. C. G. Jung, "Spirit and Life," The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. Sir Robert Read, Michael Fordham, Gerhard Adler, William McGuire, trans. R. F. C. Hull, vol. 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (1953), p. 336. For a fuller discussion of the relation between Freud's and Jung's theories on dreams, see Liliane Frey-Rohn, From Jung to Freud: A Comparative Study of the Psychology of the Unconscious, trans. Fred E. Engreen and Evelyn K. Engreen (1976).

9. On repression in Carmilla, see also Day, pp. 88-89; and William Veeder, "'Carmilla': The Arts of Repression," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 22 (Summer 1980): 197-223.

10. For treatments of the relation of morals to dream theory in England, see Bernard, "Dickens and Victorian Dream Theory"; and Werner Wolff, The Dream -- Mirror of Conscience: The History of Dream Interpretation from 2000 B.C. and a New Theory of Dream Synthesis (1952).

11. Frederick W. H. Myers, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1954), 1:126.

12. F. W. H. Myers, Edmund Gurney, and Frank Podmore, Phantasms of the Living, quoted in The World of Dreams, ed. Ralph L. Woods (1947), pp. 278-79.

13. For a more general treatment of the importance of acts of writing in the gothic conception of character, see Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Coherence of Gothic Conventions (1986), chaps. 3 and 4.

14. In the introductory essay to the Penguin edition of DeQuincey's Confessions (1978), Alethea Hayter claims that with this book DeQuincey "brought to the art of prose autobiography something entirely new, and his influence has been felt by every self-conscious English writer, whether of reminiscences or of autobiographical novels, ever since" (p. 24).

15. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, the 1818 text, ed. James Rieger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 227-28, hereafter cited in the text. Variant quotations from the 1831 text, also in Rieger's edition, will be noted.

16. See for example Peter Brooks, "Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts: Language, Nature, and Monstrosity," in The Endurance of "Frankenstein": Essays on Mary Shelley's Novel, ed. U. C. Knoepflmacher and George Levine (1979); Richard J. Dunn, "Narrative Distance in Frankenstein," Studies in the Novel 6 (Winter 1974): 408-17; and Harold Bloom, "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus," in Bloom, Ringers in the Tower (1971). Brooks describes each tale within the tale as touched by "the taint of monsterism . . . leaving us with only a text, a narrative tissue that never wholly conceals its lack of ultimate reference" (p. 219). Dunn also sees the narrators as analogous with one another but argues for a hierarchy of narrative success and failure based upon the degree of "communicative interchange" achieved between teller and listener, the monster being the least successful (p. 417). My reading of the narrative structure coincides more closely with that of Bloom, who cautions that the monster cannot be compared to his creator as narrator since he is "the nightmare actualization of Frankenstein's desire" (p. 527).

17. In The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979), Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar point out that Mary Shelley studied her parents' writings intensely just before she wrote Frankenstein, "like a scholarly detective seeking clues to the significance of some cryptic text" (p. 223). Gilbert and Gubar read the novel as an attempt to come to terms with both her parents' writings and Milton's -- a "psychodrama reflecting Mary Shelley's own sense of what we might call bibliogenesis . . . a version of the misogynistic story implicit in Paradise Lost" (p. 224). See also U. C. Knoepflmacher, "Thoughts on the Aggression of Daughters," in The Endurance of "Frankenstein," ed. Knoepflmacher and Levine, for an interpretation of the novel as a daughter's rage against her parents.

18. See William Veeder, Mary Shelley and "Frankenstein": The Fate of Androgyny (1986), and Margaret Homans, Bearing the Word, for two full accounts of Shelley's complaint against patriarchy in Frankenstein.

19. In his Introduction and notes to the University of Chicago Press edition of the text, James Rieger maintains that Percy's contribution to the tale was more extensive than Mary admits here; if so, her assertion of authority is that much more significant (see pp. xviii, xliv, and xxiii).

20. Mary Poovey takes a different view in The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (1984). Poovey maintains that Mary Shelley "finds that she cannot escape the 'hideous phantom' except by 'transcribing' her 'waking dream.' In other words, she can exorcise the specter of her own egotistical imagination only by giving in to it as if to a foreign power -- no matter how guardedly, with no matter what guilt" (p. 142). Whereas Poovey sees Shelley's transcription as a way to disown the dream, I see it as a way to own and master the dream, which distinguishes her from Frankenstein and his denials.

21. Poovey reads Victor as a gothic victim and sees in Shelley's revisions of the novel an increasingly clear portrayal of him as "a helpless pawn of a predetermined 'destiny,' a fate that is given, not made" (p. 133). Certainly, this is how Victor portrays himself but not necessarily how Shelley regards him. Poovey is correct that the revisions make this case more persistently; but it is Victor who is making the case, and his increasingly shrill protestations against his own responsibility do not make them any more convincing -- only more desperate.

22. See David Ketterer, Frankenstein's Creation: The Book, the Monster, and Human Reality, (1979), on the importance of textuality in the novel and for an exploration of the other texts it has "embodied."

23. George Levine, "The Ambiguous Heritage of Frankenstein," in The Endurance of "Frankenstein," ed. Knoepflmacher and Levine, p. 7.

24. See, for example, MacAndrew, The Gothic Tradition in Fiction; Day, In the Circles of Fear and Desire; and Robert Kiely, The Romantic Novel in England (1972).

25. See Veeder's extensive treatment of the "negative Oedipus" in the novel and his exploration of the significance of Victor's desire to kill and replace his father (Mary Shelley and "Frankenstein," pp. 137-53).

26. Margaret Homans reads the novel (and the dream) as a portrayal of "the situation of women obliged to play the role of the literal in a culture that devalues it," and as centrally concerned with the "death and obviation of the mother" (p. 100). On the importance of the mother, see also Marc A. Rubenstein, "'My Accursed Origin': The Search for the Mother in Frankenstein," Studies in Romanticism 15 (Spring 1976): 165-94; and Barbara Johnson, "My Monster/My Self," Diacritics 12 (Summer 1982): 2-10.

27. The quotation is from the revised text of 1831. See page 252 of the Rieger text I have used throughout.

28. Like Poovey, Levine regards Frankenstein as "removed from direct personal responsibility even for his own ambitions: for the most part he is described as passively consumed by energies larger than himself or as quite literally unconscious and ill when his being conscious might have changed the course of the narrative" ("The Ambiguous Heritage of Frankenstein," p. 10). The passive constructions in Levine's prose here may obscure exactly what Frankenstein himself desires to obscure. We must remember that it is Frankenstein who is doing the describing and providing the self-justifying narrative in the text.

29. Said, Beginnings, pp. 83, 145.

30. Peter Brooks, "Repetition, Repression, and Return: Great Expectations and the Study of Plot," New Literary History 11 (Spring 1980): 503-26.

31. Ibid, p. 525.

32. Said, Beginnings, p. 167.

33. Thomas DeQuincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, ed. Alethea Hayter (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1978), p. 69, hereafter cited in the text. This edition uses the text as it was first published in the September and October 1821 issues of London Magazine (vol. 4, nos. 21:293-312 and 22:353-79).

34. Sedgwick, The Coherence of Gothic Conventions, pp. 27, 37. See also Karen M. Lever, "DeQuincey as Gothic Hero: A Perspective on Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Suspiria de Profundis," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 21 (Fall 1979): 332-46. Lever demonstrates the "fictionality" of the narrator of the Confessions and relates him to several gothic heroes.

35. Thomas DeQuincey, The Collected Writings of Thomas DeQuincey, ed. David Masson (1889-90), 1:9, 14.

36. Foucault, History of Sexuality, 1:67, 64-65.

37. See Alethea Hayter's Introduction to Confessions. J. Hillis Miller relates the structural confusion of the book to DeQuincey's desire to combine the literature of "power" with the literature of "knowledge" (The Disappearance of God: Five Nineteenth-Century Writers [1975], pp. 45-46). The disintegrative structural aspects of the book may also be related to Freud's later insistence on the "disintegrative" work of dream interpretation -- the necessity of seeing the dream first in its disparate pieces, of bypassing plot in favor of verbal analysis. The apparent lack of narrative structure here allows for the material of the dreams to be dissolved back into its contradictions before meaning is imposed on it. See Philip Rieff, Freud, The Mind of the Moralist (1959), pp. 118-36.

38. For a broader analysis of the importance of language in DeQuincey's writings, see Sedgwick's chapter on DeQuincey, "Language as Live Burial," in Gothic Conventions.

39. In the 1856 edition, DeQuincey's revision of the opening of the "Pains of Opium" section underscores the centrality of the translation of dreams into language in the Confessions: "The main phenomenon by which opium expressed itself permanently, and the sole phenomenon that was communicable, lay in the dreams (and in the peculiar dream-scenery) which followed the opium excesses. . . . The final object of the whole record lay in the dreams" (also in Hayter's edition, p. 205).

40. See Terrence Doody, Confession and Community in the Novel (1980). Doody says the occasion for a confession stems from the attempt to resolve a crisis of exclusion by creating a confessor to enable the connection to some community. DeQuincey's attention to the reader in the text and his addressing the book to his wife are consistent with this impulse toward intimacy.

41. V. A. DeLuca reads the Confessions as fundamentally a quest for love, emphasizing DeQuincey's portrayals of himself in the text as the forlorn child, the abandoned lover, the ailing husband (Thomas DeQuincey: The Prose of Vision [1980], 17-19).

42. DeQuincey's first success as an imaginative writer was the Confessions. It became a sensation, brilliantly opening his career in popular journalism and saving him from financial ruin.

43. Sedgwick cautions that writing should not be given any privileged status here, since dreams are seen to correspond to many things besides writing in the Confessions (such as plays, paintings, forgotten music, rooms within the brain). Such correspondences she identifies as gothic in that they "recreate parallel representations at a distance from the original, subject to more or less frightening distortions" (Gothic Conventions, p. 63). These other analogies are certainly drawn, but DeQuincey resorts to writing and language most prevalently in his attempt to control those frightening distortions, giving them privileged status among the other "correspondences."

44. DeLuca sees this last cycle of dreams as figuring a failed effort at imaginative integration on the part of DeQuincey; and he emphasizes the narrator's "sense of loss" at the end of the text: "He is incapable of willing the victory into being, because he cannot master its operative forces, and this because he has lost faith in his power of supplying vital connections" (pp. 27-33). This loss and failure, however, DeQuincey regards as his triumph, and in the sense that they represent a fulfillment of his desire to make a precise diagnosis of a condition, they are imaginative triumphs.

45. Miller points out a recurrent motif in DeQuincey's writings which represents the mind trapped in some form of thought which is repeated forever -- the constant threat of narrative impasse. He gives the name of this vertigolike motif "the Piranesi effect" (Disappearance of God, p. 67).

46. This passage is from the Biographical Notice Charlotte composed as a memoir of her sister for her publisher, quoted by Winifred Gerin, Emily Bronte: A Biography (1978), p. 55.

47. Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, ed. Hilda Marsden and Ian Jack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 120-31. The text is that of the Clarendon edition of 1976. Hereafter cited in my text.

48. See Miller, The Disappearance of God, for a fuller discussion of the religious aspects of the novel. Miller regards Wuthering Heights as "an attempt to reconcile two irreconcilable requirements: the need for a source of spiritual power outside oneself, and the need to be self-sufficient" (p. 158). At the conclusion, he says, "God has been transformed from the transcendent deity of extreme Protestantism, enforcing in wrath his irrevocable laws, to an immanent God, pervading everything" (p. 211). See also Gilbert and Gubar, "Looking Oppositely: Emily Bronte's Bible of Hell," The Madwoman in the Attic, pp. 248-308.

49. Dorothy Van Ghent, The English Novel: Form and Function (1953), p. 160.

50. See Said, Beginnings, p. 174.

51. In Laughter and Despair: Readings in Ten Novels of the Victorian Era (1971), Knoepflmacher notes the similarity of Lockwood and Nelly as narrators, emphasizing their common "passivity" (p. 89). But both may also be seen as active repressers and manipulators of information. James Hafley has gone so far as to identify Nelly Dean as the "villain," ambitiously plotting to gain control of the two estates. See "The Villain in Wuthering Heights," Nineteenth-Century Fiction 13 (December 1958): 199-215.

52. See Gideon Shunami, "The Unreliable Narrator in Wuthering Heights," Nineteenth-Century Fiction 27 (March 1973): 449-68. On the more general problem of the "unreadability'" of the figures in the novel, see J. Hillis Miller, Fiction and Repetition: Seven English Novels (1982).

53. William A. Madden considers forgiveness the central issue in the novel. See "Wuthering Heights: The Binding of Passion," Nineteenth-Century Fiction 27 (September 1972): 127-54.

54. Leo Bersani reads the novel as a representation of "the danger of being haunted by alien versions of the self" (p. 208). See A Future for Astyanax: Character and Desire in Literature (1976).

55. Edgar F. Shannon's essay "Lockwood's Dreams and the Exegesis of Wuthering Heights" emphasizes the importance of passion in the dreams and in the novel, regarding it as the "ethical eye of the storm" in both cases (Nineteenth-Century Fiction 14 [September 1959]: 99). I emphasize the psychological more than the ethical aspects of the dreams and the novel.

56. James H. Kavanaugh sees Lockwood as "a weak or even inverted analogue of Heathcliff, an 'antitype' whose function in the text is to register a difference from Heathcliff and to display much of what Heathcliff is not" (p. 18). Kavanaugh's Emily Bronte (1985) presents a Marxist-psychoanalytic-oriented reading of the novel.

57. For a Freudian reading of the role of passion in the novel, see Madden, "Wuthering Heights," pp. 148-49.

58. Charlotte Bronte, Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell (dated 19 September 1850), p. 362, and Editor's Preface to the New Edition of Wuthering Heights, p. 365.

59. See Foucault, History of Sexuality 1:17-35. Foucault argues that the "repressive hypothesis" actually generated more and more ways of talking about sexuality instead of repressing it. "What is peculiar to modern societies," he says, "is not that they consigned sex to a shadow existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while exploiting it as the secret" (p. 35).

60. There is no critical consensus on these difficult passages. Bersani reads them as evidence of "the self as the potentiality for metamorphoses . . . which has renounced not only the closed circle of family repetitions, but also the limiting definitions of individuality" (p. 212). Miller interprets them as claiming that "no human being is self-sufficient, and all suffering derives ultimately from isolation. A person is most himself when he participates most completely in the life of something outside himself" (Disappearance of God, p. 172). Gilbert and Gubar read these passages as manifestations of the "psychic split" caused by patriarchal systems, which demand acts of anxious self-denial from women like Catherine (pp. 273-83).

61. See Sedgwick (Gothic Conventions) on Heathcliff's double discourse as revealing the felt absence of continuity between the internal and the external: "On the one hand there is the elaborate and unquestionably authentic self-revelation, and on the other there is an unbreachable sense of separate and secret power that somehow remains undiminished" (p. 109). I read the novel as straining at this frontier of language, seeking to bridge the gap between the private and the public.

62. Again, contradictory critical interpretations of Heathcliff abound outside the novel as well as within it. Gilbert and Gubar see him as "'a woman's man,' a male figure into which a female artist projects in disguised form her own anxieties about her sex and its meaning in her society. . . . Heathcliff incarnates that unregenerate natural world which must be metaphorically cooked or spiritualized, and therefore a raw kind of femaleness that, Bronte shows, has to be exorcised if it cannot be controlled" (p. 294). Kavanaugh, on the other hand, notes the "phallic, patriarchal images surrounding Heathcliff," which figure him "as an implicit imaginary substitution for the Father" (p. 39). Bersani says that "Heathcliff is so radically the other that he is almost the beastly or even the inanimate" and that he represents "the alienating possibilities of Wuthering Heights" (pp. 210-11).

63. Letter from Charlotte Bronte to Ellen Nussey written on the day of Emily's death, 19 December 1848, quoted by Gerin, Emily Bronte p. 259.

64. Letter from Charlotte to George Smith, 7 November 1848, ibid., p. 248.

65. Letter from Charlotte to Ellen Nussey, 23 November 1848, quoted ibid., p. 250. See the final chapter of Gerin's biography for a fuller account of Emily's silence and her resistance to medical attention in her last days.

66. Foucault, History of Sexuality 1:17, 59.

67. From Freud's analysis of the case of Fraulein Elisabeth von R. (SE 2:160-61).

68. See Kucich, Repression in Victorian Fiction.