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A Bodice Ripper

Dreamed 2010/2/22 by Carla Young


Do you find that certain images recur over time in your dreams? There's a force I've come to call my "inner Nazi" that appears and reappears. It's oddly tacked on to the end of this long dream that starts more like a bodice ripper. I've broken this dream down into five segments. Color sketch of a dream by Carla Young: An 18th century couple


A young woman, certainly not a member of the nobility, marries a Viscount. The dream is set in a Nordic country; both the Viscount and the Lady are tall, very attractive, and blonde. Initially, the dream appears to be set in the 18th Century, judging by the clothing. Panniers are not in evidence, but the clothing is long, bodices are tight, and undergarments are long, white, and ruffled. This might not be a love-match. The man wants an heir and is attracted to the woman's beauty. The woman is making a large leap socially. Both are very concerned that the woman's behavior should be correct and appropriate.


The roles characters take on in your dream represent your different abilities and weaknesses. In this dream I see a beautiful, naïve, undeveloped part of me (the lady) that is striving to unite with a stronger, noble part (the Viscount). My Lady aspect is socially uncomfortable and not sure how to behave. My Viscount aspect (Vis-count, I count!) is most likely an animus figure (a woman's inner man) which needs unification with the Lady, symbolized by his desire for an heir. At this point in the dream this is an uncomfortable marriage, a marriage of convenience. The tight bodice suggests I'm feeling restricted, which is further emphasized by concern over the woman's behavior. Set in the past, the dream deals with a long-standing issue.
Color sketch of a dream by Carla Young: An 18th century couple


The marriage has been celebrated, and it is the wedding night. The Lady and the Viscount are in a cloakroom or closet which is situated behind the bedroom. They share one bedroom. The lady, new to this class and situation, looks to her husband for clues on how to behave. He disrobes; she observes him in his 18th Century shirt with no trousers. He takes off his clothing layer by layer, placing it on hangers, and puts the hangers on hooks that protrude from the wall. She is surprised by such tidiness, having thought that this would be a job for the servants. She mimics her new husband: disrobing, placing her garments on hangers, and hanging these up. It is a passionless scene, and, as I observe, I run varying scenarios for the wedding night. Will the husband be concerned about his new wife's pleasure or merely do the deed? Is the Lady a virgin? If so, will she be able to enjoy the act? If not, will the Viscount be seriously displeased?


The wedding represents the tentative union of two aspects of my psyche, represented by the Lady and the Viscount. The closet is the storehouse for my attitudes and emotions; its location behind the bedroom means the relationship we're observing is intimate, close to the core of my being. What about the emphasis on clothing? The Viscount takes the first step in revealing himself by taking off his clothes. Not entirely comfortable, but not knowing what else to do, the Lady follows suit. By emphasizing the passionless nature of this encounter the dream tells me again that this union is more like putting a toe in the water than diving in. For Jung--unlike Freud who would probably describe inhaling as a substitute for penetration--even sexual intercourse is not necessarily about sex in a dream. And I think you can see its symbolic relevance here as I conjecture about the physical union, not at all sure how successful the joining of these two will be.
Color sketch of a dream by Carla Young: An 18th century couple


We don't get the answer to any of these questions. Instead, we learn that the Lady works very hard to be modest and proper and that she refers to her husband formally in the 3rd person as "the Viscount" in public, but she is allowed to be more familiar privately. The Lady dresses very simply--plainly, even--in order to emphasize her propriety. She does not adorn herself in any way. Nevertheless, she is so beautiful that the estate workers (farm hands) fight over her. She never looks at them in order not to be seen to encourage such behavior. Meanwhile, it's not clear whether or not the Viscount is faithful.


Again the Lady's socially constrained role is emphasized. According to Tony Crisp a fight can symbolize problems with independence or self-confidence. That the Lady never looks at this is probably a strong hint from the dream that I should. A further hiccup to the needed union of the Lady (feminine aspect of my psyche) and the Viscount (masculine aspect): I'm not sure the Viscount can be trusted.
Color sketch of a dream by Carla Young: An 18th century couple


A closed chapel is part of the Estate; it's crammed into what looks like a row of townhouses. The workers are petitioning to have it opened, not because they are interested in religion, but because they know that if the chapel is operating the Lady will have to attend, and they want to gaze upon her. The Viscount knows this and feels as if they've put him over a barrel by pretending to want to go to church. In one scene the Lady makes an error by referring to her husband as Count instead of Viscount.


The Lady becomes stronger in this scene, which begins to place the two main characters on a more equal footing. According to Tony Crisp, a chapel can represent the "powerfully regenerative side of our inner life or feelings." Here, my chapel is jammed into the middle of the mundane workaday world--the row of townhouses. And my chapel is closed. The fighting workers of the last scene play a part by demanding the chapel be reopened. The Viscount is outfoxed by the workers, losing some of his power. The Lady is less intimidated by her husband, as evidenced by the slip she makes regarding his rank. Now the two can cooperate in a useful venture, as you'll see in the next and final scene.
Color sketch of a dream by Carla Young: An 18th century couple


The plot seems to be advancing very slowly, but I know what's going to happen. While the Estate and the people still appear to be from the 18th Century, World War II has begun. A great social change is in the works. The castle walls with their crenelated surfaces are covered with missiles and rockets to be used against the Axis powers. Yet I know the Nazis will prevail and this land will be occupied by the Germans. The Lady and the Viscount will hide an Asian woman from the racist occupiers.

I see a small attic access point in the ceiling. It has a couple of pieces of cloth hanging from it. At first I think that this is where they will hide the woman but then I think "No—that's too obvious." They know every nook and cranny of this vast estate, and they will find a secure hiding place. It also occurs to me that the practiced artificiality of their lives—the fact they are hard to "read" and don't show what's going on with them—will make it easier for them to fool the Germans.


The new psychic center, as represented by the union of Viscount and Lady, has become strong enough to take on a new challenge. The problems of my past recede; change is at hand, and a new battle must be fought. I fortify myself with missiles and rockets against my long-standing nemesis, my inner Nazi. A foreigner (the Asian woman) represents my repressed or unexpressed parts. The united psyche works to find a safe place to hide her from the rigid, overbearing, and limiting collective consciousness, absorbed by me long ago and symbolized by the Nazis. The elaborate cover-up of the 18th Century clothing is no longer important; it's replaced by a couple of pieces of cloth hanging from the attic, where I at first I think the Asian woman will be given refuge. But she will not reside in my head (the attic); the new psyche will find the proper place for her.

Scene 1: dreams of other times - beauty - body image - class - gender
Scene 2: weddings & marriages - clothes & fashion - Freud - sex - Rachel Hadas & Chris Wayan try on clothes in My Mother's Closet
Scene 3: envy and jealousy - violence - manners and propriety - individualism vs conformity, assertiveness and courage
Scene 4: chapels and holy places - Christianity - socializing - bars, pub and clubs - power
Scene 5: war - fanatics - hunted! - rescues - teamwork and belonging - house and home
General: dream paintings - a post-bodice dream: Baring the Breast - more Carla Young - Jungian dreams

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