Dream imagery in the fiction of Mark Twain
Boman, Roberta Goodall
Ward, Joseph A.
Master of Arts
The purpose of this thesis is to examine Mark Twain's use of the dream motif in his fiction. Twain's life and art are inseparable in this study of the growing importance of vision and illusion; therefore, this thesis focuses not only on imagistic concerns of the dream, but also on the disgruntled idealist and his constant identification with visionaries and their fantasies. Chapter I is an introduction which defines “the Twain dream" and briefly traces its evolution through four books; The Innocents Abroad, The Gilded Age, A Connect!cut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and The Mysterious Stranger. Each of these works represents a specific period in Twain's development of this prominent and revealing motif. The second chapter is a detailed study of Twain's dream "origins" in The Innocents Abroad. This early travel book is filled with lyrical, dreamy language, superstition and illusion, and ugly reality juxtaposed to the beautiful ideal, three aspects of the dream which prefigure the visions of later fictional works. In Chapter III Twain's preference for the dream motif again emerges in The Gilded Age, a rambling tale of numerous visionaries in a fanciful age of vision. Again, the author's own identification with his imaginative characters emphasizes the integration of art, life, and psyche. Chapter IV is an analysis of the dream as both form and substance of the satire, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In this book are glimpses of miraculous visions within visions, supernatural power, frantic escapism, and nightmarish destruction, all of which intimate disillusion and rejection of reality. The final chapter explores the bizarre solipsism of The Mysterious Stranger, a culmination of Twain's artistic and personal obsession with illusion. This section is an attempt to examine the dream as all-encompassing symbol, the Dream anticipated and partially explained by dream imagery in the three previously cited works.