'The Subconscious Dream In Robert Herrick's The Vine'

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Dreams are the subconscious’ conduit of relaying a message to a person’s consciousness, but on the way these messages are distorted in order to make them more digestible. It is the job of the waking mind to interpret these messages and determine the underlying, or latent, content. The unconsciousness of the speaker of Robert Herrick’s “The Vine” manifests his fear of loss through phallic symbols and BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) manifest dream content during an erotic dream about a woman the speaker may or may not love named Lucia. Two different loss-related fears are present in the dream: The fear of losing a loved one, and the fear of losing virility. The latter is portrayed by the phallic symbolism present throughout the…show more content…
However, this fear is portrayed through a different method: BDSM manifest dream content. While the practice was not formally named in the speaker’s time, the tenets of bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism are very much present in the surface level of his dream. The physical action of the speaker’s vines enveloping Lucia is a more natural example of rope bondage, a widely-used exercise in dominance by people who practice BDSM (8). The restriction of a person’s limbs during rope bondage is usually a trust exercise between two partners, but the speaker’s subconscious instead uses this practice to cling to a woman he loves and never let go. This non-consensual embrace is a desperate one by the subconscious: a last-ditch attempt to get Lucia, or the woman Lucia represents, to stay with the speaker. The speaker’s rope bondage is not the only extreme exaggeration of BDSM practices. He also “[enthralls]” Lucia with his embrace, taking the master-slave roleplay dynamic that some BDSM pairs practice to the extreme (15). Rather than a loving, affectionate relationship in the manifest content of his dream, the speaker’s subconscious depicts dragging Lucia into a slave-like position beneath him and giving her no say in whether or not she wants the man to engross her in his vine’s hold. The man’s subconscious, in this sense, depicts his fear of losing the…show more content…
How his subconscious portrays these fears in the manifest content of his dream, however, is different. Phallic symbols, a signal of virility itself, govern the fear of loss of masculinity, while exaggeration of BDSM practices throughout the surface content of the dream depict the man’s underlying fear of losing a loved one. Whether the man’s response to the dream, an erection, is a sign that he understood its latent content or will just dismiss it as an erotic fantasy is to be inferred by the reader. However, the man’s subconscious definitely brings a message to his conscious mind: the fear of loss is present in his psyche and threatens to consume him if not acted

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