Reality Of Dreams Essay
Having Dreams and Dealing with Reality
- Length: 1408 words (4 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Everybody has dreams, and everybody must deal with reality – that is
the nature of life.
A dream can be defined as something imagined, an ambition or an ideal,
and reality is the term assigned to all things real. Humans, by our
very nature, are ambitious, ever pursuing our dreams, our deepest
desires. It is the very purpose of life to make our goals our
aspirations, real. Therefore it is the nature of life to live through
reality and to dream. It is fitting, then, that many texts have been
composed based on ‘Dreams and Reality’. ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Great
Expectations’, ‘the talented Mr. Ripley’, and ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’
are some such texts.
We all need to have dreams and goals, they give us purpose. This is
evident in the novel ‘the Great Gatsby’, which was written by F.S
Fitzgerald. In it he uses a variety of literary techniques in his
examination of life in the 1920’s. These techniques include the
masterful use of theme, characterisation, a narrator, symbolism and
irony. All of the characters have dreams, Gatsby dreams to posses
Daisy, Jordan dreams to be independent, Wilson dreams to sell Tom’s
car, Myrtle dreams to marry Tom, and the techniques above stated
explore these dreams.
Among the main themes of the novel, is the American Dream, or the
corruption thereof. Fitzgerald attempts to communicate the false and
impossible nature of this ideal, and the ease with which it can be
corrupted. It is through the pursuit of the American Dream that Jay
Gatsby makes his fortune, however, he makes this fortune not only
through hard work, but through his involvement in organised crime,
thus he has corrupted the concept. Fitzgerald also presents the rich
as being immoral and wicked, and many of the rich in the novel did not
work for their money. The poor, on the other hand, are portrayed as
being rundown and beaten, and simply unable to get ahead despite their
sincerest efforts; “One thing's sure and nothing's surer, the rich get
richer and the poor get - children.”
Fitzgerald stresses that unless you are born into wealth, it is
virtually impossible to achieve it.
Social Class, therefore, is depicted as being unavoidable, and in the
novel the characters are separated by it. There are the rich, snobby
members of the upper class; Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and there are the
hardworking ‘chums’ of the lower class; George and Myrtle.
Characterization plays an important role in the novel. Fitzgerald
creates his characters to suit the very themes that he is trying to
communicate. Tom, for example represents the callous, immoral nature
of the very rich; “-even in college his freedom with money was a
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matter for reproach,”
Tom is having an affair with a married woman and he carelessly flaunts
this fact; “We’re getting off,” he insisted. “I want you to meet my
girl.” He is also quite the liar, he has Myrtle, his mistress,
convinced that he will not be able to marry her because his wife is a
Catholic and will not divorce him. In truth, Tom would never marry
Myrtle, she is of the lower class, and Tom loves the classiness of his
wife, and would never divorce her.
The use of a narrator: Nick, provides the responder with a
first-person view of the events that take place in the novel, the
world is seen through Nick’s eyes; “I am one of the few honest people
that I have ever known.”Of course, the function of the narrator is to
guide us through the world of the rich and famous.
‘The Great Gatsby’ is full of symbolism, some harder to detect than
others. The green light, the eyes of Dr Eckleburg, and the silk shirts
are all examples of some symbols. The green light represents Gatsby’s
utmost desire to posses Daisy, and the silk shirts represent his
wealth which indicates that he is worthy of Daisy; "It makes me sad
because I've never seen such - such beautiful shirts before." Daisy
herself is a symbol of all Gatsby’s hopes and desires, of the
attainment of his dream.
The eyes of Dr. Eckleburg represent G-d; they symbolize an
ever-present being watching over all of our actions; “God knows what
you've been doing, everything you've been doing. You may fool me but
you can't fool God!...God sees everything"
The novel is also very ironic. It is ironic, for example, that Daisy
is driving the car that kill Myrtle, when Myrtle is the woman who is
having an affair with Daisy’s husband.
‘Great Expectations’ is a novel, written by Charles Dickens that
explores dreams and reality, and is related to the Great Gatsby in
that they both portray themes of ambition and self-improvement. Two
techniques that Dickens uses are imagery and first-person. In the
novel Dickens uses highly descriptive language in order to create
sensory stimulation in the responder. A more specific example is that
of the clocks in Mrs. Havisham’s house which are all frozen at the
same time to represent her desire to return to the past, and her
inability to accept the future; “ It was when I stood before her,
avoiding her eyes, that I took note of the surrounding objects in
detail, and saw that her watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine,
and that a clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.”
The use of first person narration, much the same as in the ‘Great
Gatsby’ allows the responder to view the world through the eyes of
Another text that explores Dreams and Reality is the film ‘the
Talented Mr. Ripley. It is about a young New Yorker, Tom Ripley, whose
chief talent is “Telling lies, forging signatures and impersonating
almost anybody.” This text once again explores ambition, and as in the
Great Gatsby, the main character must create, or in this case steal, a
new identity in order to rise to the top. “I always thought it'd be
better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.”Tom’s dream is to be
as he puts it, a ‘somebody’. This drives him to murder and impersonate
a wealthy young man; Dickie Greenleaf.
Two language techniques used are foreshadowing and the use of a
protagonist. At the very beginning of the film Tom refers to events
later on in the film; “If I could just go back... if I could rub
everything out... starting with myself.”Tom is the protagonist, and is
by no means a good man. Yet the responder sympathises with him despite
the fact that he is a cold-blooded murderer. This is due to the
masterful way that Tom is portrayed by the composer, and the way the
composer appeals to the responder’s compassion.
‘Cat’s in the cradle’ is a song written by Sandy and Harry Chapin
which tells the story of the relationship between a father and his
son. It explores the transient nature of dreams. It’s irony is the
main way in which it is related to the Great Gatsby. The son’s dream
is to become like his father, simile is used to introduce this dream;
"I'm gonna be like you, dad. You know I'm gonna be like you.", and it
is accomplished by the end of the song; “ it occurred to me, He'd
grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.”
However in fulfilling this dream, the son was unable to live out his
other dream, which was to spend time with his father. This is similar
to the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby goes off to
become rich then returns to Daisy only to find that she is gone. In
the same way, the father goes off to work, then when he returns for
his son, he finds that his son has grown up and left.
Imagery is used to represent the sons childhood; “And the cat's in the
cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon”,
that which the father is missing out on.
Everybody does have dreams, and everybody, living in reality, must
deal with it. The texts cited support this in that they all provide
examples of dreams and the accomplishment of these dreams, as well as
the harshness of reality and the consequent failure to fulfill our
dreams. If the nature of life is indeed to fulfill some dreams, and
fail others, then it is the aspiring nature of all human beings that
provides our lives with purpose.
Between Dreams and Reality
| By: Naomi Livingston | Everyday Essays
I guess I’ve always wanted the opportunity to document. To write. I’ve always wanted to be able to write a magnificent novel, but that endeavour always felt too enormous. So I wrote short stories, but I wasn’t sure what their larger purpose was… So here I am attempting to ‘document’ instead.
Now I’d better preface this collection of what I suppose could be called Everyday Essays by a Performer, by saying I am not famous or even well known to anyone bar my family and colleagues. So I guess you could say I’ve just left my diary unlocked and bookmarked on the desk with the hope, one day, it might enlighten someone, in whatever capacity that enlightenment is born.
I remember my first theatrical experience clearly. I was cast as a singing possum. It was a thrilling and eye-opening experience as I stood on stage dressed in a brown jumpsuit made by one of the ladies from the local church where I grew up. My on-stage debut. I couldn’t believe what this performing ‘thing’ was. All I knew was I loved it.
I followed it up by creating a spin-off rock group with all the kids spawned by the bandmates of my parent’s own band. We were very popular in lounge rooms around town. I quickly moved on to starting a dance troupe at my primary school which then forced this small Western Sydney school to put on a full school concert in order to accommodate a certain 12 yr olds’ creative desires. Apologies to all those teachers and parents who had to sit through some classic 90’s Jazz routines.
At this point everything I knew of this thing called “performing” had come from an innocent and naive place of play. I felt something, or was moved by something and then needed to share my opinion of what I felt. And not by just saying so, but with music, colour, tap shoes, and by the social and artistic fellowship shared between the performers and the audience. I believed the value of the message warranted the effort of imaginative and dramatic display. There was nothing that would hinder these missions.
I’ll never forget seeing my first musical. Les Miserables. Oh my. It blew my mind. What was this medium!? It was followed by The Secret Garden. Watching Phillip Quast and Anthony Warlow pouring their hearts out on stage in (still) one of the most beautiful duets I have ever heard, I can actually say changed my life. I wanted to be an actor, a singer, a dancer, an artist, a writer…whatever! Just let me tell stories – like the duet – about love and loss and hope and all those universal things that tie us together as a species! The grandest dreams spewed forth from my twelve year old head. We can change the world!
So. The impression I have clearly given is that I was fast-tracking my way to achieving my dream of becoming a performer and creator. But when does reality step in? When does our creative and joyful dreaming end? We grow up; play becomes guarded, innocent acts of sharing ideas are now judged and rated and worst of all, creativity is stunted by fear. The child-like openness that once drove all those dreams into tangible fruition has dissipated and those dreams have now turned into hideously embarrassing moments that we cross our fingers don’t get re-told at our milestone birthday parties. I have too many of those to mention. Perhaps I’ll skip that next birthday bash.
[pull_left]We grow up; play becomes guarded, innocent acts of sharing ideas are now judged and rated and worst of all, creativity is stunted by fear[/pull_left]
Fear gets us stuck between dreams and reality. Fear stops us giving validity to our desires. Fear keeps us from the openness of our childhood play. My dream is to tell stories that create change. I’m oh so frightened of doing that. Sharing with people means being vulnerable. Means adding to the list of embarrassing moments. Means failing oftentimes. And I have failed…often. I have thought, and still do sometimes, that I am so tired of ‘character-building’ obstacles and why can’t we just be handed our dreams. I stamp my feet and think, “Haven’t I been through enough? Don’t I deserve it? Why do others seem to have their dreams become reality? IT’S NOT FAIR!”
This is where I stop myself and think: “Ah. First world problems. My coffee was burnt, the banks close at 4pm and I should really look into getting my teeth whitened.”
We are so quick to encourage children to play creatively and tell them of the endless possibilities and potentials for their lives, why is it we stop doing this for other adults, or even ourselves?
Why do we keep trying? Or do we quickly give up on that project and run to another in a continuous cycle? Fear of judgment, both from others and from ourselves, is so ingrained in most of us that we’ve forgotten to be open. Any wildness or ingenuity of thought we have is quickly halted by our inclination to edit every thought, so that we fall back onto the most conservative or safe option in order to minimise any potential consequence of putting such thoughts/projects/performances out in the world. That inherent desire to be accepted is so profoundly human. If we are not accepted we won’t survive. So we think. We end up living an inauthentic life where we quash what makes us unique.
How do we re-learn the openness we once possessed? How do we allow ourselves to chase dreams?
[pull_left]Fear gets us stuck between dreams and reality[/pull_left]I know I personally am much more free and silly and creative when I am mucking around with Henry, our dog. Or with my husband, Drew. Or with my best friends. I think it’s because I trust them. I feel safe to play. And even though they may laugh at me and think my improvised songs are ridiculous, I know they aren’t really judging me, but in a way, engaging with me in my exploratory play, however banal or outrageous. And this trust allows me to take creative risks.
The act alone of pursuing the dream, letting the fears and the resulting experiences drive us, pulls reality and dreaming together. And that means trusting myself. That is all I can have control over. I can trust myself, no matter what the outcome may be. It doesn’t mean every project I engage in will succeed, but pursuing the dream will ultimately lead to insights which will then fuel my trust further. It does involve taking that first, somewhat frightening step; to make the choice to start pursuing the dream, but isn’t that half the joy of that child-like openness? The not quite knowing what the dream will grow to be? I think that is what it is to live with authenticity.
For me, trusting myself and pursuing the dream means telling stories through performance. Yes, you’ll be glad to know – though it was a long road and it continues to be (as dreams go on and on) – reality follows close behind, giving me the chance to create and share stories with people, from the stage and from this here computer-machine-thingy, travelling the country and the world, experiencing other cultures as I do so.
I think my twelve year old self would be proud and would understand the battle fear continually gives me, gives many of us.
So there it is: my stream of consciousness hidden slightly behind existential ideals. I’m shaking in my boots.
But that’s the journey between dreams and reality. Let’s see where it takes us next. I’m open.
Naomi is an actor, musician, composer and first time mother. She is a WAAPA graduate but only after a detour via an arts degree where she majored in Theoretical Performance Study and Psychology. Her work includes The Libertine (Sport for Jove), John and Jen (Sydney Fringe), Wicked (GFO, Asia Tour), the release of the album “So Long Lives This” (Drew and Na Livingston) and currently performing in the Australian Tour of Les Miserables.
Topics Mentioned:AdviceDreamsMusic TheatreOpinionTheatreAuthor
Naomi has written 5 articles on AussieTheatre | Read more articles by Naomi Livingston