Crime and Punishment Dreams
Sometimes a dream is much more than simply a dream. Sigmund Freud explains a dream’s ‘latent content’ is heavily derived from the ‘manifest’ dream-thoughts. The manifest being what is evident in the dream, and the latent being the underlying meaning of the dream.
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In Raskolnikov’s dream, the manifest is that he is a seven year old boy who is fond of horses. He sees a horse being tortured and beat, bringing amusement to the townspeople, as he walks with his father. As the horse dies, he goes to hug the beast and kisses it.
When Raskolnikov awakens, he renounces that “accursed dream of [his]” and wonders if he can actually “take an axe [and] split her skull open,” referring to the pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna. The latent content to Raskolnikov’s dream highlights his dual personality. Similar to the instance of the drunken girl, Raskolnikov evinces his emotional and compassionate side by showing his love for horses as he runs to it when it is killed. At the same time, his rational and abstract views are also described as he thinks about committing the crime and believes he has every right to do so.
It is not evident who Raskolnikov clearly is in the dream. He is a representation of the horse, the boy himself, or even the gruesome murderer of the horse, Mikolka. He represents the horse because he thinks of himself as a victim in a terrible life, the boy because he can be loving and have emotions and Mikolka because of his thoughts and plans to kill Alyona. Even though his dream is very blatant in its story, the overall meaning of it signifies something much more than just a flashback.