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The Symbols of a Dream, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1577

Essay

One of the frequently asked questions is “What is a dream?” For most people, a dream is something what one aspires to that makes him/her feel excited and happy. The realization of all human dreams usually leads to either happiness or disappointment. A dream with a positive connotation always captures people’s attention. Throughout history, people have dreamt about something: freedom, love, money, luck, etc. Nevertheless, everyone wants to realize dreams, because all dreams lead to satisfaction, joy and happiness. The world of dreams seems to be attractive and mysterious. The most desirable wishes people dress in the clothe of dreams. Some people want to dream only, and do nothing for it; other ones dedicate their lives to a dream. Also, there are such people, who help to realize someone else’s dreams. As one can see, there are many variations, but one thing is evident: dreams make people happy, and provoke positive feelings. There are many legends, stories, literary works and feature films about dreams. Consequently, the topic of this paper is the symbols of a dream in the exact poem, and the exact feature film.

The aim of this paper is to reveal the symbols of a human’s dream. Robert Frost’s (1939) poem “The Silken Tent”, and Tim Burton’s feature film Big Fish may be helpful. In both of these works, one can find the elements of a dream, and its symbols. The symbols of a dream are involved in the names of these works, and can be interpreted like the most desirable thing. In revealing the symbols of a dream, it is necessary to examine the works where these symbols appear.

Frost is one of the most prominent American poets, who can turn daily and common phenomena into profound philosophic images. He is one of the poets who develops the metaphysical tradition in poetry. Often, in his poems, one can see the relationship of a human being and inconceivable nature. The chosen symbolic poem is not an exception.

In 1939, Frost published his written poem “The Silken Tent”. Frost’s wife Eleanor inspires the poem “The Silken Tent”. In this time, Eleanor suffers from breast cancer, but dies later of heart failure. The poet’s life seems pessimistic, full of grief and losses: the death of his sons, and the wife’s incurable disease. For him, his dying wife is a dream: he does not want to lose her; the poet wants to see her beloved and strong, evergreen like a cedar. It is necessary to examine each lines of the poem to make a clear picture of Foster’s dream. One should not remember that each poem has a certain topic. What is the topic of this exact poem?

The main topic of “The Silken Tent” can be interpreted in a different way. Some of the critics agree that image of a lovely woman can be traced here:

“The poem begins with a graceful metaphor, which Frost extends into a lovely paean to a woman close to the poet’s heart. Speculation about the identity of that woman continues” (Tuten & Zubizarreta 326).

Taking this into consideration, one can conclude that the silk tent, itself, is a metaphor for a woman who appears in the first line of the poem: “She is as in a field a silken tent” (Frost line 1). The comparison of a woman and a tent may seem illogic; nevertheless, the poet’s profound metaphor is revealed, as one continues the reading. The material of the tent is silk that swings, as the breeze blows:

“…At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease…” (Frost lines 2-4).

Here, one can feel all the tenderness of a woman’s nature, and in the same time, the secret. Who can know what the silken tent may reveal? The poet develops the idea of a woman’s calm and flexibility. Also, there is the idea of a woman’s freedom: “gently sways at ease” (Frost line 4). In these lines, a reader can feel the connection with the nearest and dearest Eleanor’s people: the husband, and their children. Some critics believe that “the breezy airyness of silk belies the poem’s weighty topic: balance” (Tuten & Zubizarreta 326).

The poem has an image of a cedar: “with the central “cedar pole”, the poet clearly suggests a spiritual inner life”. In spite of the coming death, the poet wants to live with his wife spiritually. Owing to this, the image of a dream is changed a bit. It becomes real regardless of a physical presence of a person. If a reader proceeds to the next lines, he/she sees the comparison of a woman with a cedar – an evergreen strong tree:

“…And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward

And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord

But strictly held by none…” (Frost lines 5-9)

The same critics think that “…without the “central cedar pole”, the tent would collapse upon itself. In addition, no one tie is pulled tighter than another” (Tuten & Zubizarreta 327). Consequently, a reader gradually reveals the poet’s dream about a healthy wife, who should be free from the captivity of cancer. Eleanor is connected with her family by means of invisible threads of love:

“…is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round…” (Foster lines 9-11)

One may think that a woman possesses a unifying power, which is able to give certain support and strengths to beloved people. It is the essential feature of a woman’s character, given to her by nature. The end of the poem logically finishes the poet’s thought:

“…And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.” (Foster lines 12-14)

The poet shows that his beloved woman has strong and independent threads that do not tear on the wind. Analyzing the symbol of the dream in this poem, one can note that a healthy, strong, but a tender beloved woman lives in the poet’s dream. Consequently, here, a dream is dressed in the silken tent that conjures up the image of a beloved woman. One may think that a dream is not a woman herself, but everything that is connected with her: her nature and connection with the beloved.

In Tim Burton’s film Big Fish, one can face another embodiment of a dream. Edward Bloom, one of the main characters, has a dream: to discover the world around him, and to realize the meaning of his life. Searching all possible ways to be closer to his cherished dream, he tries to saturate his life with adventures and incredible events that might help him. The image of an enormous uncatchable fish constantly follows him. This big fish is a symbol of Edward’s dream that he wants to reveal.

The big fish is also a symbol of human’s search of meaning of life. It is a kind of a guide that helps the character to meet friends, and beloved wife. There is something that makes the protagonist go from one place to another. One of the nearest and dearest people for Edward is his beloved wife. Even here, we can see a woman like something desirable. Moreover, he is able to do everything for her to conquer her heart and love. The life of the character builds him invaluable experience that provokes him to tell everybody various fantastic stories with unbelievable events. The story about a big fish is one of the favorite ones in his collection.

The character believes that everything that happens with him is true. In the end of the film, a storyteller and adventurer Edward Bloom reincarnates in a big fish that becomes a symbol of infinity of a human soul. The image of the big fish is quite controversial, and always causes many topics to be discussed. This paper is interested only in one side of this image. This fish is a symbol of a dream that makes a person to be in a continuous search, discovering the world around him/her.

A dream is something vital for everyone; Frost and Edward also have dreams. Their dreams live in different symbols, and help them to live further regardless of life difficulties. Dreams feed them with energy and positive thoughts, making them happy. Whether a person realizes a dream or not, he/she may be happy, regardless of the achieved point.

Taking into account everything mentioned, it is necessary to make a general conclusion. The aim of the paper is achieved, because one can see different symbols of a dream: the silk tent, the big fish. Symbols have metaphorical nature; the nature of these two symbols is revealed. The silk tent is the embodiment of a healthy, free, and powerful, beloved woman. The big fish is a material cover of a person’s desire for searching the meaning of live. The end of the poem and the film give a positive tone, and encourage people to live happily, following their dreams. It is useful for everyone to have some dreams because they saturate one’s lives with magic and happiness.  One should not forget that sometimes the process is more valuable than a result. Consequently, pursuing dreams, a person may be happy.

Works Cited

Burton, Tim (Director). “Big Fish”. Videocassette. MGM/UA Home Video, 2003.
Frost, Robert. “The Silk Tent”. Virginia quarterly review. v. 15, no. 1. 1939. p. 20.

Tuten, Nancy Lewis, and Zubizarreta, John. The Robert Frost Encyclopedia. CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. 326-327

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