Finding the answers in Charles Lamb's Dream Children: A Reverie
- Why is the essay entitled “Dream Children”?
Ans: Charles Lamb entitled the essay “Dream Children” because he never married and naturally never became the father of any children. The children he speaks of in the essay were actually the creations of his imagination or fancy.
Ans: Field, pseudonym for the actual person, was Lamb’s grandmother. Lamb presents her as an ideal grandmother in an imaginary and inflated way before his “dream children”—she was extremely pious, fearless and compassionate person besides being the best dancer of the area in her youth.
3. Why is the essay entitled “A Reverie”?
Ans: The essay is subtitled as a ‘reverie’ because Lamb never married and so he never had children. In the essay he created an imaginary picture of a happy conjugal life—a picture which finally dissolves into nothing as he comes back to reality.
4. How does Lamb present his brother John L—?
Ans: Lamb’s elder brother, John L—in his youth was a handsome, high-spirited, strong and fearless person. He loved Lamb very much. But subsequently in his old age he became lame-footed and spent the rest of his life in utter hopelessness, irritation and pain.
5. Whom does Lamb refer to as “faithful Bridget” by side?
Ans: Lamb had a sister, Mary Lamb, who did not marry since she had attacks of insanity. She has been referred to here as “faithful Bridget” because she never married and was Lamb’s only companion in his life. At the sudden breakdown of his reverie, he finds her seated by his side.
6. What, according to you, is the most striking feature of the essay and why?
Ans: The chief characteristic feature of the essay is the author’s mingling of pathos and humour. Lamb begins the essay in somewhat deceptive fashion, describing the incidents, full of humour. But gradually he reduces the tone towards the end describing the tragedies of his personal life.
7. How does Lamb present the autobiographical elements in the essay?
Or, Why is the essay called a personal essay?
Or, What type of essay is Dream Children?
Ans: Dream Children is a personal essay. Lamb presents the characters and incidents from his own life—the sketches of his grandmother, Field, his brother—John Lamb, his sister—Mary Lamb, his tragic love-affairs with Ann Simmons. But Lamb is always playing with facts and fictions and transforms the real into the literary.
8. How does Lamb show his knowledge of child psychology?
Ans: It is surprising that without ever having children Lamb had acute sense of how children react to the happenings in the world of the adults. By deceptively referring to the meticulous reactions of his dream children, he succeeds in catching the reader immediately. The aesthetic impact of the essay becomes more effective for this reason.
9. “...till the old marble heads would seem to be live again...to be turned into marble with them”—Where does the expression occur? Explain the context.
Ans: Lamb told his “dream children” that in his boyhood he would enjoy rambling in and around the great country house in Norfolk. He would gaze at the twelve marble busts of Caesars in such an intensely meditative way that it seemed to him after some time that those were coming back to life again, or that he would be himself transformed into marble with them.
10. Where does the expression “busy-idle diversion” occur? What does the author mean by this?
Ans: Lamb told his “dream children” that in his boyhood he would enjoy rambling in and around the great country house in Norfolk more than the sweet fruits of the orchard. He would remain busy with this though he had no work to do.
11. “When he died though he had not been...died great while ago”.
Who is referred to as ‘he’? Why is he spoken of?
Ans: Lamb loved his brother John L— very much. But very shortly after his death it seemed to him that death had created such an immeasurable vacuum in his life that it made impossible for him to comprehend the significance of the difference between life and death.
12. “...such a distance there is betwixt life and death”—Explain the significance of the line in light of the context.
Ans: the immediate absence of his brother John Lamb created by his death forced Lamb to feel the gulf the difference between life and death. He understood that death created a permanent absence as the dead cannot be restored to life. Again, death is unknowable and Lamb was forced to reflect on his brother’s absence in this way.
13. “...the soul of first Alice looked out at her eyes with such reality of re-presentment that I came in doubt”—Who was Alice? What does the word ‘re-presentment’ mean here?
Ans: In the course of his day-dreaming when Lamb looked at his dream-daughter, her physical resemblance reminded him of his dream-girl Alice W—n, a fictitious name for Ann Simmons who did reciprocate his love.
14. “But John L—(or James Elia) was gone forever”—Who was James Elia? Why does the author say this?
Ans: At the end of his day-dreaming Lamb coming back to reality finds his sister (Bridget) Mary Lamb by his side; but he realises and remembers that his brother James Elia or John Lamb had died and would no more be with them. So he laments his loss thus.
15. “Here Alice put out one of her dear mother’s looks, too tender to be called upbraiding”—What does the word ‘braiding’ mean here? What makes Alice react thus?
Ans: While describing the great country house in Norfolk, lamb tells his “dream children” that the chimney piece of the great hall was decorated by the curving of the story of Robin Redbreasts. At the information that a foolish person pulled it down, Alice’s countenance changed, which suggested that it should not have been done. The word ‘braiding’ here means castigation or censure.
16. How does Lamb record Alice’s reactions to his story-telling?
Ans: While listening to Lamb’s personal tale, Alice reacts firs by spreading her hands when Lamb says how good, religious and graceful person Field had been. Alice reacts to it either in great astonishment or putting up some pious gesture. She also cries out When Lamb talks about his elder brother’s pain and death.
17. How does Lamb record John’s reactions to his story-telling?
Ans: At the information of the great house being stripped off its ornaments John smiled, which suggested the foolishness of the work. He was trying to look brave and impress upon his father that he would not have been afraid of the ghosts like his father. At the end of the story, when Lamb was talking of his elder brother’s pain and death, John, like Alice, began to cry.