The Life of the Drama -or- The Melodramatic Imagination

Theatre of the Melodramatic Imagination -or- Existential Angst

Seen from a "theatre" perspective all dreams are "dramatic". Below is a dream from a young adolescent which provides insight into the "melodramatic imagination". Here is the dream; 

Nancy, 15 Student 

I have had this reoccurring dream for as long as I can remember. I am some type of matter and I am rolling or gliding over this carpet that has been dramatically enlarged so that the individual pieces are far bigger than me, and in the background this eerie music is playing on some old record player. Whenever I wake up I cry, and am too scared to go back to sleep. 

Mr Hagen's Reply; Life Contains Graphic Subject Matter -or- Self Pity 

The "subject matter" of life often contains graphic and objectionable content. Many dream interpretations such as "Nine Dirty Words in Dreams" posted at the IIDR website speak about such content found in dreams. Some people might find some of the content objectionable. What I find objectionable, is that teenagers like yourself are searching for guidance, however it is for the most part not forthcoming in the waking world. This lack of everyday role model guidance for "youth", can only add to the melodramatic confusion and existential "Angst" felt in the dreaming world. 

Much like in your dream, melodrama "exaggerates" the plot, dialogue and thoughts of the characters by appealing to emotions which become amplified. Your "eerie music" finds an association to the idea of "melodrama" which derives from the Greek word "melos", meaning music. Eric Bentley "The Life of Drama", asks; "What does it mean: to weep?" For Bentley, the "commonest function of tears" is to provide a "mechanism for working off emotion." Bentley observes; "If you have dismissed tears and loud lamentation from your daily life, you might check whether they are equally absent from your dreams at night." Having a "good cry" can be a positive psychological experience, however it can be seen from a darker perspective, namely "self pity" and become the emotional stuff of a depression.

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All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.