McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Stuart M. Kurland
Dream, Medieval, Narrator, Patience, Reformation, Vision
14th-century dream visions feature intensely personal narrators with attitudes and desires, who agonize over difficult situations, who make errors in judgment. Deeply characterized narrators contribute thematically to these poems, which explore personal subjects like grief and faith. By the 16th century, the form had undergone a thematic transformation from personal narrative to political allegory, losing much of its potency. The narrators use the dream vision structure in order to beg authority figures to forgive the potentially offensive statements made in their work because it was only a dream. Many narrators are ciphers, the eyes and mouthpieces of a theme rather than characters with personalities and goals. They observe situations more than manipulating them. Their dreams focus more on social than personal critique. As British ideology shifted from an internally-oriented belief in patient endurance and a deep-seated belief in hierarchal structures, to a more externally-oriented commitment to Reformation, the function of the dream vision underwent a parallel shift from exploring internal, personal themes toward exploring external, social themes.
Racicot, W. (2010). "If We Shadows Have Offended": Reflections of Social Attitudes Toward Reform in Late Medieval and Reformation Dream Visions (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1077