Providing Fantasy as an Alternative for Life: From Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1594–6) to Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010)

By Sana Bouloussa.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In their quest for happiness, some people may prefer fantasy to reality in order to escape their daily struggle to reach satisfaction and hence happiness. Fantasy has always provided people with infinite possibilities; it is the place where everything becomes within reach, where our wishes come true and where we feel delight (By fantasy I do not mean the voice of the unconscious in Freudian terms but rather our conscious wishes). The quest for happiness within illusion has been present since the works of Shakespeare, mainly in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” where the protagonists flee from the city (of prohibitions and inhibitions) to live in the forest of Arden among the fairies and to achieve all their wishes.
The same idea can be found in Christopher Nolan’s film “Inception” where the hero, Dominick Cobb, has been able to build his life as well as his wife’s around a dream. He has invented a procedure which enabled them to make a kind of connected dream while sleeping. Moreover, in his dream, he was able to develop another dream within his dream. Hence, there were different layers of dreams across which the protagonists could jump.
These layers of fantasy parallel those of Shakespeare who has entrapped illusions within one another like matryoshka dolls. Though the audience is willing to “suspend disbelief” and trust the dramatic illusion. Both Nolan and Shakespeare make it sometimes difficult to distinguish reality from illusion, which implies different significations for each one of them. Both of them question the boundary between reality and illusion and they hence question the notion of “reality” itself. Therefore, fantasy can be considered as the equivalent of reality and may be a good alternative for the “unsatisfied”.

Keywords: Fantasy versus Reality, Deconstruction of the Binary Opposition, Satisfaction through Illusion, Suspend Disbelief, Dramatic Illusion

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 12, pp.127-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.269MB).

Sana Bouloussa

Assistant Lecturer, English Department, Institut Superieur des Langues de Tunis, University of Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia

I am an assistant lecturer at the Higher Institute of Languages in Tunis and I teach literature courses (poetry, drama and fiction).

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