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“[A dream is the] royal road to the unconscious.” –Sigmund Freud. Dreams are occasionally seen as projections of parts of oneself that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed. Charlotte Brontё’s Jane Eyre contains a number of significant dreams. Jane’s dreams serve to foreshadow and caution of future events and to epitomize several noteworthy moments and emotions in her life.
When she is only six years old, Jane overhears Bessie tell Abbot that “to dream of children was a sure sign of trouble, either to one’s self or one’s own kin” (p. 235). Jane accepts Bessie’s words as true, most likely because the day after Bessie dreamt of a child, she discovered that her sister was dead. One night in Thornfield, Jane dreams of children and awakens to the murderous cries of Bertha Mason. On the following day, Jane finds out that her malicious cousin John has committed suicide and her Aunt Reed lies on her deathbed after suffering through a stroke. Children continue to plague Jane’s dreams: after she becomes engaged to Mr. Rochester, Jane experiences two symbolic dreams involving children. In the first, she is “burdened with the charge of a little child” (p 303) on an unidentified road while Rochester walks ahead. She tries to catch up to him but her steps are slowed and Rochester “withdrew farther and farther away” (p. 303). The barrier in this dream represents the Rochester’s preexisting marriage to Bertha Mason, a significant fact that legally prevents their marital union. Rochester withdrawing from Jane forewarns of his inevitable separation from Jane. In the second, Jane dreams “that Thornfield [is] a dreary ruin” (p. 304). She wanders around the estate while carrying the unknown child from the previous dream because she “might not lay it down anywhere , however tired [are her] arms—however much its weight [impedes her] progress” (p. 304). As she climbs a wall to get a better view of Rochester, “the child clung round [her] neck in terror, and almost strangled [her]” (p. 304). When she finally reaches the top of the wall, Rochester seems to vanish, the wall collapses, and she and the baby fall as she wakes. Again, in accordance to Bessie’s prophecy, dreaming of children brings trouble. The second dream foreshadows impediments to the marriage of Jane and Rochester.

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