The door as a communicative symbol in the dreams of literary characters

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

Author: Savelyeva Vera, Kazakh National Pedagogical University in honor of Abai, Kazakhstan

The studies of dreams in fictional literature form a special area of the literary theory, which is called “literary hypnology” or “oineropoetics.” Scholars try to define the specifics of literary dreams and distinguish them from the reality of life. “The purposes of such studies are not to use the psychological methods for the literary analysis, but to use the literary methods in order to analyze the psychological phenomenon, which is described in the literary text”) (20, с. 9). These studies are interdisciplinary, for they are situated on the boundaries of different academic fields, such as physiology, medicine, philosophy, psychology, literary and cultural studies, and semiotics.

V.M. Kovalzon, The Doctor of Biology and a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, defines the process of sleeping as “… особое генетически детерминированное состояние организма человека и других теплокровных животных (т.е. млекопитающих и птиц), характеризующееся закономерной последовательной сменой определенных полиграфических картин в виде циклов, фаз и стадий» (“… a special, genetically determined state of the human body and the body of other warm-blooded animals (mammals and birds), which is characterized by the logical succession of certain multi-graphic pictures in the form of cycles, phases, and stages”) (6, с. 311). The process of sleeping is inevitably accompanied by the phases of dreams, which some scholars describe as the period of paradoxical sleeping. According to J.M. Lotman, a dream is «семиотическое зеркало, и каждый видит в нем отражение своего языка» (“…a semiotic mirror, and everyone beholds in it the reflection of his or her own language”) (9, с.124).

V. N. Toporov, while chronologically cataloguing literary dreams from the texts of I. S. Turgenev, proposed to classify them according to their themes and to distinguish their repeating motifs and archetypes (21). But the recurrence of similar images and situations of literary dreams might be found in the literary texts not only of the same, but of different authors. This fact cannot be explained in a single way, and, probably, is connected to the phenomena of inter-textual genesis, and the formation of the literary meta-text within the boundaries of one national culture. The appearance of the same image in different texts hardly proves the influence of one author on another, but, rather, the close connection of the literary creativity and the collective unconscious – or, to put it in another way, the link to the irrational forms of our consciousness from which the literary creativity derives experience and inspiration.

This article discusses one literary space image - a “topos” (any space image in semiotics is called “topos” from Greek “a place”) – in the world of the literary hypnology of the Russian fiction. In the literary dreams, ‘the door” topos and situations connected to it undoubtedly possess both everyday life and metaphysical senses, thus growing to the level of archetypal “chronotop” (the term of M. Bakhtin, from Greek “chronos”-“time” and “topos” –“a place”).

The door is a spatial image, a real material thing, and, at the same time, it is- together with the motif of the plot- an important detail of the plot development. This image takes a special place in oineropoetics; in a literary text it is also connected with the other, non-oineropoetic episodes. Ananalysis An analysis of the literary dreams from the works of V. Zhukovsky, A. Pushkin, F. Dostoyevsky, L. Tolstoy, A. Chekhov, V. Nabokov allows to see the literary objectification of this archetype and the poetics of its literary incarnation.

Scholars that tried to interpret the dream from the novel “Eugene Onegin” («Евгений Онегин»), point out at its folklore, mythological and literary sources. Summarizing these multiple observations, J. M. Lotman writes: “Tatiana’s dream is a living amalgam of literary fairy-tale and folklore song images, with concepts coming from Christmas and Russian national marriage ceremonies” (8, с. 266). Scholars designate different literary works of Russian and European Romanticism that are mirrored in the poetics of Tatiana’s dream. Among these dreams two- from the ballade “Svetlana” («Светлана») and from the comedy “Woe from Wit” («Горе от ума») - take a special place, for the direct borrowings from them are found in the Pushkin’s text.

S.M. Kozlova in her article «Миф о похищении Персефоны в сюжетных схемах русской литературы» (“Myth of the abduction of Persephone in the plot structures of the Russian literature”) demonstrates that she found in Tatyana’s dream multiple mythological situations: abduction, getting into the world of the dead, sacrificial murder, and resurrection-return. This scholar thinks that «поток», «шумящая пучина», «гибельный мосток» (“the stream, “the boisterous abyss,” “the pernicious gangway”) correspond to the picture of the pagan realm of Hades: the Styx river, the crossing of the Styx, the helper of the abductor- «косматый лакей» (“the shaggy footman”) - at the same time performs the function of Charon. «Tatiana попадает в «хижину» на шабаш («как на больших похоронах») «адских привидений», где оказывается в роли «хозяйки» - Персефоны, участницы черной мессы – убийства Ленского» (“Tatiana gets into “the hut” to the sabbath (“as at the big funeral”) of “hell apparitions”), where she finds herself to be a hostess – Persephone, the partaker of the black mass-of the murder of Lensky”) (7, с. 52-53).

The word-image “door” repeats in Tatiana’s dream 5 times. First Tatiana notes that «behind the door are cries and glass clink as if at some big funeral» and that «she stealthily looks through the chink». She sees that «Onegin at the table sits and through the door furtively gazes» (15, р.211). In the next stanza Tatiana, «being curious …opened the door a little».The actions of Onegin are also directed to the door: «doorward he goes», and later «Eugene has pushed the door» (15, р. 212). Thus the heroine finds herself in Onegin’s room. In the moment of her awakening Tatiana sees that «thedoorhasopened” and that “to her, Olga, rosier than Northern Aurora and lighter than a swallow, flits in» (15, р. 213).

In the images and pictures of this dream both the preceding and the following episodes of the novel are reflected; the dream is filled with reminiscences and allusions from the text of the novel. «Сон есть травестия и прошлого, и будущего» (“The dream is a travesty of the past and the future”) – writes V. Nabokov (14, с.404). In the studies of J.N. Chumakov these phenomena of the novel poetics are termed like «перебросы смыслов», «рифмы ситуаций», «ассонансы ситуаций» и, наконец, «смысловой телекинез» ( “gybing of the meanings,” ”rhyming of the situations,” ”assonances of the situations” and, finally, “the connotative telekinesis”) (27). In the scene of the names day party in Chapter 5 «The door leaves suddenly fly open: Lenski enters, and with him Onegin» (15, р.217). The forest hut forestalls the image of the Onegin’s country estate house, into which Tatiana will enter in Chapter 7: «Anisia came forth to her promptly, and the door opened before them, and Tanya stepped into the empty house» (15, р.258). When Onegin visits Tatiana’s manor in Saint Petersburg the last time, «… heentersareceptionroom. Oh! No one. A door he opens… The princess before him, alone, sits…» (15, р.303). This repeating image of the opening door both in the dream and in the real lifetime of the novel sequentially connects and disconnects the main characters.

It is possible to see that the archetypal image of a door appears already in the ballade of V. Zhukovsky “Svetlana,” (“Светлана”) where the dream of a heroine is described. Svetlana, as well as later on Tatiana, is afraid to open the door and to cross the threshold. Both these characters go through a special rite of initiation in their dreams. Before writing his famous novel in verse, A. Pushkin had already tried to use the motifs of a ritual woman’s dream in the fairy-tale “The Groom” («Жених») (1825).In the fairy-tale the desperate heroine, Natalia, invents a dream in order to punish the murderer. Scholars traditionally compare her imaginary dream to the dream of Tatiana. Both heroines get lost in the forest in a moonlit night and “suddenly” find themselves in front of a cottage/a hut of the highwaymen/the forest evil spirits. Fear and curiosity accompany the actions of the girls: they secretly observe the running feasts. In both dreams the image of the opening and closing door- a dangerous border of the two worlds- appears: «Дверь отворила я. / Вхожу…»; «Я поскорее дверью хлоп / И спряталась…» (“I opened the door. /I entered…”; “I quickly slammed the door/ And hid myself…”) (17, с. 284-285). The heroines of the two nightmares become the witnesses of the murder, and the tool of the murder in both cases is a knife.

In the dreams of I. S. Turgenev’s characters, who are in love with each other, the motifs of Tatiana’s dream revive again. While preparing “The Song of Triumphant love” (“Песнь торжествующей любви”) (1881) for the publication, I. S. Turgenev in his letter to M.M. Stasyulevich (from the 1(13) of March 1881) called it «фантастическим рассказом» (“a fantasy story”). V.N. Toporov defines the two dreams that are introduced in this story as the situation «одного общего сна, видимого двумя людьми одновременно» (“of a single shared dream, seen by two persons at the same time”) (21, с. 166). If we take into consideration that this shared dream first is voiced by the author as if by Valeria herself, and later told aloud by Muzio to his guests, we will clearly perceive the shift in the points of view of the dreamers. This shift, first of all, has something to do with the image of the door. There is Valeria’s recollection of the space: «Ей почудилось, что вступает она в просторную комнату с низким сводом <…>; окон нет нигде; дверь, завешанная бархатным пологом, безмолвно чернеет во впадине стены. И вдруг этот полог тихонько скользит, отодвигается… и входит Муций». Compare this with the dream of Muzio: «Я видел, будто я вступаю в просторную комнату со сводом, убранную по-восточному. <…> Я вошел через дверь, завешенную пологом, а из другой двери, прямо напротив – появилась женщина, которую я любил когда-то» (24, с.54-55).

In front of us is a mirrored hypnotic dream, into which there are two ways: the woman enters through one of the doors, the man through another one. The second door is from the outside, the first one –is a secret door, covered with a drapery. The outside door leads from the real life to the world of the magic; the inner door is the passage from the darkness of the black magic to the «полупрозрачную» (“translucent”) rendezvous chamber, saturated with «бледно-розовым светом» (“the pale-pinkish light”) and balm scent. The symmetry of the doors underlines their reflectivity and ambivalent symbolism. Valeria’s door - is the border between the world of reality and the world of a dream, between consciousness and the curiosity of the hidden wish. The door covered with drapery – is the border between the world of the realized wish and the darkness of the unconscious.

The doors are in the way to the world of the dark Eros and Valeria’s unconscious. In order to release these wishes in Valeria-Cecilia, Muzio uses the magic of a pearl necklace. Fragrant and thick «ширазское вино» (“Shiraz wine”) and the melody that «полилась, красиво изгибаясь, как та змея, что покрывала своей кожей скрипичный верх» (“Started to flow, bending wondrously as the snake that covered by its skin the violin’s surface”) (24, с.53) – complete the enchantment.

The doors in the dreams correspond with the real topography of Fabia’s house and the pavilion, where Muzio settled down. When Muzio leaves after the evening talk, Valeria looks at the door through which he has gone (24, с.54). Fabio, trying to interrupt the hypnotic influence, locks the door from the house to the orchard, and feels that somebody strains to open it from the inside. Later Fabio, tracing the path of Valeria, with the stopping heart, opens the outer door, but the Malaysian «повелительно указал» (“peremptorily pointed him…”) at the door. Fabio remembers about «потаённой двери» (“the secret door”) to the pavilion, and gets through it into the room with the corpse of Muzio. Persistently repeated image-“topos” allows to coordinate the worlds of reality and dream and to multiply the symbolical meanings of the door. Fabio witnesses the dreadful scene of resuscitation of the corpse. In three hours «дверь павильона растворилась» (“the door of the pavilion flung open”) and the revived cadaver, strangely stepping and supported by the Malaysian, left Ferrara forever. The door becomes a symbol of the border between the two worlds-the world of the alive and the world of the dead, and the mute Malaysian is one who possesses a secret ability to go through this border.

In another I.S. Turgenev’s tale “Clara Milich (After Death)” (“Клара Милич (После смерти»”) (1882) the image of a door appears in the dream-vision of Aratov, when he is concentrated on the will to conjure Clara from the World of no-existence. «Раза два глаза его слипались… Он тотчас открывал их… по крайней мере, ему казалось, что он их открывал. Понемногу они устремились на дверь и остановились на ней. Свеча нагорела – и в комнате стало опять темно… но дверь белела длинным пятном среди полумрака. И вот это пятно шевельнулось, уменьшилось, исчезло… и на его месте, на пороге двери, показалась женская фигура. Аратов всматривается… Клара! <…> На голове у неё венок из красных роз…». The image of a door is doubled again: it is an unreal door –the border between the world of the alive and the world of the dead, from which the spirit of Clara comes; but it is also the door of his room, into which his aunt steps in «в ночном чепце с большим красным бантом и в белой кофте» (“in a night cap with a huge red bow and in a white blouse”) (24, с.107). As in another Turgenev’s story, discussed above, the dream is “stronger” than reality and appears to be a certain super reality, primaryto the reality of everyday life, in spite of everything that actually took place.

The novel of F. M. Dostoyevsky “Crime and Punishment” (“Преступление и наказание”) is saturated with dreams. One can talk not only about the dreams-novellas, but about the cycles of dreams in the context of the novel: these are the cycle of Raskolnikov’s dreams and the triplet cycle of the tripled dream of Svidrigailov. In the previous years these dreams became the object of the attentive studies and commenting. M.M. Bakhtin, V.J. Kirpotin, L.P. Grossman, V.J. Kozhinov, J. Karyakin, R.G. Nazyrov, A.M. Rumyanzeva, N.M. Chirkov, G.K. Szhennikov, S.V. Belov and others devoted special articles, chapters and pages of their books to the analysis of each of these dreams. Studying the aspects of the comparative oineropoetics, we are mostly interested in the forth dream of Raskolnikov

In the third dream Raskolnikov, in despair, pronounces: «Что это, свет перевернулся, что ли? » (“What is it? Has the world turned around?”) (3, с.91) This phrase will fatally define the particular qualities of the forth dream, in which all events, as M.M. Bakhtin precisely noted, develop according to the rules of the carnival. «В сне Раскольникова смеется не только убитая старуха (во сне, правда, ее убить оказывается невозможным), но смеются люди <...>, смеются все слышнее и слышнее. Далее появляется толпа, множество людей и на лестнице и внизу... Перед нами образ развенчивающего всенародного осмеяния на площади карнавального короля-самозванца» (“In Raskolnikov’s dream not only the killed old woman laughs-in a dream, though, it is not possible to kill her-but also multitude of people laugh <…>, laugh louder and louder. Next, this multitude, this crowd appears on the stairs and below…In front of us is an image of dethroning folk derision of the king-imposter on the square”) (1, с.290).

The forth dream is the dream about the repeated murder of the old woman. Action seems to be reversed and go backward, but now the tragedy of the murder becomes a comedy. The dream is an answer to Raskolnikov’s words: «О, как я ненавижу теперь старушонку! Кажется, бы другой раз убил, если б очнулась!» (“Oh, hownow I hate the old hag! It seems I would kill her another time if she by chance had recovered!”) (3, с.212) Compositionally this dream is situated strictly in the middle of the novel. It ends the third part of the book and divides the whole novel into two triads. In the full collection of the works of F.M. Dostoevsky “Crime and Punishment” takes 422 pages, and the forth dream is on the pages 212-213. In the topography of the dream the two doors are mentioned: one led into the bedroom: «вдруг ему показалось, что дверь из спальни чуть-чуть приотворилась и что там тоже как будто засмеялись и шепчутся» (“suddenly it seemed to him as if the door from the bedroom opened slightly, and people there suddenly laughed and continued whispering”); another door conducted to the stairs outside the apartment: «двери на лестнице отворены настежь» (“The outside door to the stairs was open wide”). While awakening, Raskolnikov sees the opened door, and a stranger, standing on the threshold. This stranger «бережно притворил за собой дверь» (“carefully closed the door behind himself”) (3, с.213-214), and then introduced himself as Svidrigailov. Two doors in the dream are correlated with the real ones in the apartment of the old woman. In the bedroom, Raskolnikov stole the things, which he did not make use of. The door to the stairs is the outside door from the apartment, where the murder was committed. The opened door in his dream is the symbol of his denunciation and despair. And real Svidrigailov, entering through the opened door to the Raskolnikov`s poor tiny dwelling, seems to be emerging from Raskolnikov`s dream; closing the door behind himself, Svidrigailov moves away for some time the torturing for Raskolnikov revelation of his crime.

In the novel “Idiot” (“Идиот”) Hippolytus describes his «хорошенький сон» (“pretty dream”) and especially emphasizes that he saw it right before the arrival of Prince Myshkin. In this dream «ужасное животное», «чудовище», «вроде скорпиона, но не скорпион, а гораздо гаже и гораздо ужаснее» (“an awful creature”, “a monster”, “like a scorpio, but much more abominable and dreadful”) (4, с. 323) appears in Hippolytus’s bedroom. Neither Hippolytus’s mother, nor his acquaintance can catch the insect, and then the mother opens the door and lets the dog inside the room. Later the following fight between the dog and the scorpion is described. In the moment when Norma kills the vile creature, Hippolytus wakes up, and Prince Myshkin enters.

The door is mentioned in this dream twice and symbolizes the border between the room of horrors and the outside world, from where the help arrives. The appearance of the dog (in the dream it gets the bite of the scorpio that was intended for its master) and of the Prince (in reality) in the room of Hippolytus functionally unifies these images. The dog Norma and the Prince are the rescuers and the door is the entrance and exit from the room of horrors, which symbolizes the inner “I” of Hippolytus.

The history of hypnology records dreams, in which a person is transitioned into certain states and parts of the world unknown to him in his lifetime. Examples include the dreams about death and different travels and transitions that precede or follow the moment of death. In such visions the images of the future overtake the present. One of the main characters of the novel “War and Peace” (“Война и мир”) Andrey Balkonsky, approaching the moment of his real death, has exactly this type of a dream: «Он видел во сне, что он лежит в той же комнате, в которой он лежал в действительности, но что он не ранен, а здоров. Много разных лиц, ничтожных, равнодушных, являются перед князем Андреем. <…> Понемногу, незаметно все эти лица начинают исчезать, и все заменяется одним вопросом о затворенной двери. Он встает и идет к двери, чтобы задвинуть задвижку и запереть ее. Оттого, что он успеет или не успеет запереть ее, зависит всё.<...> Что-то не человеческое – смерть – ломится в дверь, и надо удержать ее. Он ухватывается за дверь, напрягает последние усилия – запереть уже нельзя – хоть удержать ее; но силы его слабы, неловки, и, надавливаемая ужасным, дверь отворяется и опять затворяется. Еще раз оно надавило оттуда. Последние, сверхъестественные усилия тщетны, и обе половинки отворились беззвучно. Оно вошло и оно есть смерть. И князь Андрей умер. Но в то же мгновение, как он умер, князь Андрей вспомнил, что он спит, и в то же мгновение, как он умер, он, сделав над собою усилие, проснулся. «Да, это была смерть. Я умер – я проснулся. Да, смерть – пробуждение! » (22, p. 69-70).

D. S.Merezhkovsky wrote that the philosophy of this dream is supported by the experience of the physical senses, when the helplessness of the body both in reality and in a dream frees the soul: «И здесь, как везде, как всегда у Л. Толстого, не тело следует за душою, а, наоборот, душа за телом: что сначала в теле, то потом в душе. <...> Тело уходит из жизни вне - жизнь, опускается в «черную дыру» – и душа влечется за телом; тело тянет душу» (“And here, as everywhere, as always in L. Tolotoy`s texts, not the body is following the soul, but, on the contrary, the soul is going after the body: what at the beginning is in the body, later on will be reflected in the soul’…The body leaves the life for non-existence, descending into the “black whole”- the soul is dragged after the body, the body pools the soul”) (10, с. 222).

V.I. Porudominsky points out that the dream of Tolstoy himself became the source of the dream of Balkonsky (16). This dream Tolstoy recorded in his Notebook and dated it by April 11 1858: «Я видел во сне, что в моей темной комнате вдруг страшно отворилась дверь и потом снова неслышно закрылась. Мне было страшно, но я старался верить, что это ветер. Кто-то сказал мне: «Поди, притвори», я пошел и хотел отворить сначала, кто-то упорно держал сзади. Я хотел бежать, но ноги не шли, и меня обуял неописуемый ужас. Я проснулся и был счастлив пробуждением» (“I saw in my dream that in my dark room the door suddenly and terrifyingly opened, and then closed again silently. I was afraid, but tried to believe that that was the wind. A voice told me “Go, close it”, and I went and wanted to open first, but somebody firmly hold it from the outside. I wanted to run, but my feet did not move, and I was horrified. I woke up and was so relieved with my awakening”) (23, p.75).

In many books of dream interpretations to see one dead is supposed to be a lucky omen. From the point of view of the folklore beliefs, the door is the analog of the gates: a big and tall door foretells a fortune and the high position in the society; if it opens- there will be a good luck, if it suddenly flies wide open one should expect happiness and profit.

An absolutely different interpretation of the door is given in the works of Z. Freud and his followers (18, с. 51-52). Psychoanalysts interpret all dreams with the door images from the point of view of self-feelings of a person and a degree of richness of the experience, not only of the erotic wishes, but emotions in general.

As we see, the great variety of the existing interpretations (often mutually excluding) does not eliminate the possibility of the new ones. The dream of Andrey should be understood as a prophetic vision, but simultaneously it contains space allegories. A door is the archetypal image of the border of the two worlds, Andrey`s struggle with it – it is his resistance to the unknown. «Дверь – черта, рубеж, на котором как бы сфокусировано ожидание, и дверь – заслон. Или точнее так: дверь – привычный предмет, который можно предложить зрению взамен нечеловеческого «оно» (“The door is a line, a frontier on which the anticipationis focused, and it is also a barrier. Or, more accurately: the door is a familiar object, which might be offered to our vision instead of surreal “it”) (5, с. 53).

In the Yung`s analysis of dreams, the opening of the door symbolizes the way through the consciousness: «Дверь понимается как амбивалентный символ, связанный с конкретным действием. Дверь разделяет два пространства, которые связаны в свою очередь со временем (из прошлого в настоящее и будущее), – поэтому важно направление движения через дверь, ее местонахождение и степень усилий» (“The door is understood asana bivalent symbol, connected with a specification. The door divides the two spaces, which are, in their turn, connected with the time - from the past- to the present and to the future-therefore, the direction of the movement through the door, as well as its location and the amount of the efforts spent on its trespassing, are very important”) (19, с.290). The crisis dream of Andrey facilitates his transition from life to death: the chronotop of the door is the border between the world of the dead and the world of the alive. In Scandinavian mythology Valhalla (the feast hall of the dead) has 540 doors, through which the valiant warriors that fell in battle get inside (2, с.27). Let`s not forget that Andrey also passes away from the wound that he received on the battle field.

In the following parts of the novel there is one scene, in which the image of the door as the border space is as articulate and symbolic as in Bolkonsky`s dream. This scene belongs to the fourth volume of the novel. Pierre Bezukhov, who had passed through the imprisonment, is returning back to Moskow, and visits Mary Bolkonsky, in whose house he suddenly meets Natasha Rostova. These three spiritually connected friends had suffered much and understood each other very well. While they talk, Natasha for the first time tells about the last hours of Andrey Bolkonski’s life. This «мучительный и радостный рассказ» (“torturing and comforting tale”) is necessary for Natasha in order to free herself from the burden of the past sufferings. Pierre listens and does not stop looking at her, cultivating in himself the sense of love to Rostova. At the final moment of this story Bolkonsky’s son enters the room, and Natasha, taking this chance, stands up in order to leave the room: «Она <…> почти побежала к двери, стукнулась головой о дверь, прикрытую портьерой, и с стоном не то боли, не то печали вырвалась из комнаты. Пьер смотрел на дверь, в которую она вышла, и не понимал, отчего он вдруг один остался во всем мире» (22, с. 234). Natasha does not know anything about the dream of Balkonsky, but the reader remembers that dream, and the connection of the real door with the allegorical image from the dream is present. (The tautological triple repetition of this word in the same passage is not accidental).The real door is perceived here as a terrible border, that separated for some time Natasha from Pierre. To bring these images together is the task of that “ideal” reader, who, according to Tolstoy`s thought, knows how to “conjugate” images.

In A.P. Chekhov ‘s story “Three Years” (“Тригода”) Julia, who came temporarily to her native city, sees the funeral that is later transferred into her dream: «Легла она в постель рано, а уснула поздно. Снились ей всё какие-то портреты и похоронная процессия, которую она видела утром; открытый гроб с мертвецом внесли во двор и остановились у двери, потом долго раскачивали гроб на полотенцах и со всего размаха ударили им в дверь. Юлия проснулась и вскочила в ужасе. В самом деле, внизу стучали в дверь…» (26, p. 64). The mournful symbolism of the dream in reality becomes life-asserting: the smash of the coffin at the door forestalls a message - a joyous telegram. The door in the dream becomes a symbol of connection of a dreamer with the outer, real world.

V. Nabokov’s novels contain in themselves elements of both practice and the theory of dreams. In the novel “Despair” («Отчаяние») the nightmares accompany all actions of Hermann, and all dreams in the novel compositionally form an independent cycle of stories within a story. The first dream that disturbs Hermann for several years he sees again before his meeting with Felix: “For several years I was haunted by a very singular and a very nasty dream: I dreamed I was standing in the middle of a long passage with a door at the bottom, and passionately waiting, but not daring to go and open it, and then deciding at last to go, which I accordingly did; but at once awoke with a groan, for what I saw there was unimaginably terrible; to wit: A perfectly empty, newly white-washed room. That was all, but it was so terrible that I never could hold out; than one night a chair and its slender shadow appeared in the middle of the bare room – not as a first item of furniture but as though somebody had brought it to climb upon it and fix a bit of drapery, and since I knew whom I would find there next time stretching up with a hammer and a mouthful of nails, I spat them out and never opened that door again” (11, р. 46-47). The corridor and the door are the symbols of perinatal horror and inner self of Hermann. Forcing to stop the closed-spaced nightmare of the first dream, Hermann is imposed with the second, also repeating, but an opposite to the first - open-spaced nightmare –a delirious dream about his own counterpart-Felix, who is coming towards him along an empty road and is passing through Hermann’s own body. The events of the third novella-dream take place in the hotel’s room, where Hermann and Felix spend the night together. The third dream is multi-layered and consists of three interconnected dreams: Hermann awakens into another dream, from the second dream he awakens into the third one, and only the fourth time he wakes up “really”. Finally, the last dream is the story of betrayal and deceit, committed by the wife, who breaks up the agreement and marries another man. The finale of the novel strangely includes all the events into the frame of a long-lasting dream: “Maybe it is all mock existence, an evil dream”. Hermann is thinking in this way, while being in a room, where the gendarme visits him. “As he was leaving, he turned in the doorway and asked me to remain indoors” (11, p. 211). Differentiating himself first in his dream (by closing the door into the room that symbolizes the depth of the consciousness), and then in real life from his own “self”, and taking the place of his own counterpart, Hermann becomes imprisoned in the room and loses the sense of reality.

The double world that determines the relationship between the dream and the reality in the literary works of romanticism and modernism is not always estimated by V. Nabokov in favour of the dream. For instance, in the novel “Gift” (“Дар”) love in reality is a miracle that drives a way them ar vel sof the dreams: «По-настоящему же она никогда ему не снилась, довольствуясь присылкой каких-то своих представительниц и наперсниц, которые бывали вовсе на нее непохожи, а возбуждали в нем ощущение, оставлявшее его в дураках, чему был свидетелем синеватый рассвет. А потом, совсем проснувшись, уже при звуках утра, он сразу попадал в самую гущу счастья, засасывающую сердце, и было весело жить” (12, p. 161). But as if in a contrast, the novel “Gift” concludes with a glaringly happy dream about the return of the father. In this dream the main character gets into a room, «в которую он думал, что никогда в жизни больше не войдет» (“into which he thought he would never enter again”). He is told to wait, and the door into the room is slammed after him. He is listening, while staring at that door. «Вдруг за вздрогнувшей дверью (где-то далеко отворилась другая), послышалась знакомая поступь, домашний сафьяновый шаг, дверь бесшумно, но со страшной силой открылась, и на пороге остановился отец» (12, p. 319).In this dream a strong wish of the main character to meet again the lost father comes true, though it is only a dream, and the door lets this dream in.

Anti-freudian image of a father in a dream of the main character – is the cryptic archetype of Animus. The room with a door (this word-image is repeated 4 times) is a symbol of a carefully hidden loss and, simultaneously, of an ardent wish to encounter the lost past (the father, the motherland, the parent’s house). A door is a space of connection of the past to the present, and the present to the future. It is not by chance that the double-faced Janus in Ancient Rome was the god not only of time, but «богом дверей», «входа и выхода вообще, в том числе начинания какого-то дела и окончания его» (“the god of doors,” “of entrance and exit in general, of the beginning and ending of any project”) (25, с. 120).

The analysis of ten dreams from the works of Russian classical writers allows us to assert that the semantics of the neurolinguistic sign “the door” in literary dreams unifies the archetypal and contextual meanings that reflect the substantial qualities of Russian mentality. The tragic and dramatic pathos that accompanies the symbolism of the “door” topos in the works of Russian authors to the certain extent opposes other different interpretations of this symbol (for example, in the short stories of O’ Henry “The Green Door” and of Herbert Wells “The Door in the Wall”).

“The door” topos in the dreams – is a communicative symbol of the border between the dream and the reality, the world of the dead and the alive, material and spiritual, the conscious and unconscious of the dreamer, his or her obvious and hidden wishes, exterior and interior world, rational and erotic; it is the symbol of connection and disconnection, of mystery and transition to the sphere of unknown, a chronotop-image, which is fusing the space of the past and the present, the space of the present and the future.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011

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