Conclusion: Beyond the Looking-Glass.


I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one--I'm going to tell it--but take care not to smile at any part of it. When Catherine speaks these words to Nelly in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (1847), she prefaces them by asserting, "I'll give you a feeling of how I feel" (62). (46) Even though scholarship tends to treat the revelatory dreams of Gothic literature as primarily symbolic devices, this text suggests a close association between affect transmission and the dream, even when it is recounted instead of directly experienced.

Anticipating that her listener might utter the common trivialization that such an experience is "only a dream," Catherine cautions her "not to smile at any part of it." The force of affect in Catherine's dreams is not trivial. In fact, instead of dissipating into a half-remembered haze upon her awakening, these dreams "have stayed with [her]" and through a change in her assemblage even "altered the colour of [her] mind." Her most recent dream has influenced her affective potential, reducing her capacity for lightheartedness, as she mentions: "I've no power to be merry to-night" (62). When she goes on to describe her dream about being in heaven, its most striking characteristic does not relate to choirs of angels, symbolic prophecy, or explicit revelation, but instead to affective intensity. During the dream, Catherine feels overcome by the sensation that "heaven did not seem to be [her] home" and "broke [her] heart weeping to come back to earth." Consequently, she is flung out of heaven, coming to rest "on the top of Wuthering Heights, where [she] woke sobbing for joy" (63).

This passage models the affective force that the literary dream is capable of exerting on the characters of the Gothic novel. The dream produces an occursus, alters Catherine's potential, initiates a change in assemblage, and even transmits affect when it is recounted. Gothic novels employ this intensity in multiple variations. For example, the atmosphere of a waking dream introduces the supernatural into Walpole's Otranto. Instead of representing elements of waking reality, these dreamlike forces enter the waking narrative, in which they highlight the issue of potential by positing what Manfred can be driven to do, while the plot is driven forward by the answer. Whereas the literary...

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