Project Title

The Fantastical Dreams of The Palm-Wine Drinkard

Presentation Author(s) Information

Sarah SheehanFollow

Faculty Mentor(s) Name(s)

Jennifer Flaherty

Abstract

The world of dreams is quite often an odd fusion of the beautiful, the strange, and the grotesque. Flying, floating, falling, dying; the amount of scenarios and feelings that the mind acquires in deep sleep is nothing short of spectacular. Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine-Drinkard is a strangely bizarre dream-like piece. The story gives the impression of a fever dream, and behind every corner of Tutuola’s fantastical narrative lies profound commentary on the effects of European deculturalization and the realization of how beautifully fragile life-long cultures can be. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, knew that fantastical dreams must be spurred by something, and in 1899 Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams was written. Its publication embraced a new way to dissect the absurdity of the mind's peculiar dreamscape and ideas of innate defense mechanisms including regression, repression, and denial proved to be pivotal discoveries in attempting to explain the often inexplicable thoughts that roam the darkness of the unconscious. Tutuola undoubtedly felt a strange mix of this unconscious emotion. As a child born into cultural limbo, Tutuola was stuck in a society of those accepting the disappearance of Yoruba culture in the face of European expansion and those who chose to journey into the dark forest to keep the spark of tradition alive. By interweaving a post-colonial and psychoanalytic lens, readers can truly dissect the author's passionate message that plagues the pages of such a peculiar tale. In viewing certain plot points as dreams of the unconscious such as the skull, the white tree, and the red people in red town, Freud’s psychoanalytic approach to dreams can unveil the deep levels of unrest, fear, and resentment the author projects onto the narrator.

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The Fantastical Dreams of The Palm-Wine Drinkard

The world of dreams is quite often an odd fusion of the beautiful, the strange, and the grotesque. Flying, floating, falling, dying; the amount of scenarios and feelings that the mind acquires in deep sleep is nothing short of spectacular. Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine-Drinkard is a strangely bizarre dream-like piece. The story gives the impression of a fever dream, and behind every corner of Tutuola’s fantastical narrative lies profound commentary on the effects of European deculturalization and the realization of how beautifully fragile life-long cultures can be. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, knew that fantastical dreams must be spurred by something, and in 1899 Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams was written. Its publication embraced a new way to dissect the absurdity of the mind's peculiar dreamscape and ideas of innate defense mechanisms including regression, repression, and denial proved to be pivotal discoveries in attempting to explain the often inexplicable thoughts that roam the darkness of the unconscious. Tutuola undoubtedly felt a strange mix of this unconscious emotion. As a child born into cultural limbo, Tutuola was stuck in a society of those accepting the disappearance of Yoruba culture in the face of European expansion and those who chose to journey into the dark forest to keep the spark of tradition alive. By interweaving a post-colonial and psychoanalytic lens, readers can truly dissect the author's passionate message that plagues the pages of such a peculiar tale. In viewing certain plot points as dreams of the unconscious such as the skull, the white tree, and the red people in red town, Freud’s psychoanalytic approach to dreams can unveil the deep levels of unrest, fear, and resentment the author projects onto the narrator.