The opportunity seldom arises for one to attend a lecture given by one of the most respected Shakespeare scholars of her generation. In Marjorie Garber’s ‘Dreams in Shakespeare’ she expresses her perspective on the role of dreams in the Bard’s works. She had five actors perform 10 relevant scenes from 6 of Shakespeare’s plays while she provided commentary. She guided members of the audience to analyze the significance of each scene for themself. Her insights highlighted recurring themes in plays which, upon first glance, seem to have no similarities. Connecting Richard III to A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Antony and Cleopatra to The Tempest makes one think outside the lines of Comedy, Tragedy and History, and delve into depths of the realms of waking and sleeping… and dreaming.
Though Garber is not a particularly charismatic speaker, her material is outstanding. Not only does she have incredible all around knowledge of the literature, but she finds hidden meanings in the text which are not only fascinating but insightful. You watch the scene and drawyour own conclusions, but then when she speaks, realize how much deeper the scene is than you ever imagined. In Richard the Third, she said that Edward wrongly distrusted his brother, who he saw in a dream. This is a commonly known fact. But then in Antony and Cleopatra, Antony has a dreamlike vision which causes him to mistrust Cleopatra. Or from how Leontes describes his long lost wife in A Winter’s Tale to how in Pericles, the King of Tyre. They both have been seperated from their wives for quite a while, but have had connections with them through dreams. These ties are caught by Garber’s keen ability. They made her lecture and eye-opening experience, providing a different perspective on Shakespeare’s fascination with dreams.