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A Dickinson reverie: the worm, the snake, marvel, and nineteenth-century dreaming

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Emily Dickinson's "In Winter in my Room" has been interpreted by scholars as representing her dread of and contempt for male sexuality and sex, her penis envy, her repressed incestuous desire for her brother Austin, and her fear of domination and potential violation. This article shifts attention away from such biographical readings and their psychoanalytic perspective, and reads the poem in the context of ideas about dreams available to Dickinson in her own time. It examines pre-Freudian theories of dreaming available in the journals her family is known to have read and the literary representation of dreams in novels by Dickens and the Brontës and in Ik Marvel's Reveries of a Bachelor. This approach opens out possibilities of interpretation for the poem by placing it in its cultural-historical context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-118
Number of pages25
JournalThe Emily Dickinson Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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