The essay ‘Dream Children’ by Charles Lamb has an autobiographical influence, speaking at large about Lamb’s childhood and his relationship with the people so dear to him. The essay is written in the form of a narration wherein, Lamb is narrating his childhood tales to his ‘Dream Children.’
Lamb’s manner of opening his essay is quite conversational and informal instead of being didactic. He appears to begin in such a way as if he intends to share his experience with his audience and make them his secret sharer. This is evident from the opening lines of the essay; “Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were children, to stretch their imagination…..”
Stream of Consciousness (repetition of ideas) is the style of writing in which the writer tells or narrates his ideas in the flow as they appear in his mind. This is for the writer’s catharsis in which he repeats certain ideas a number of times within the essay. To mention a few;
“Then I went on to say, how good and how religious their great grandmother Field was.”
“…because she was such a good and religious person.”
“…because I was never half so good or religious as she.”
The idea of great grandmother Field being very religious has been repeated several times. Symbolism can also be seen in the essay. For instance, “All its old ornaments stripped”. Through this, Lamb hints upon the modernization of the society in which people are forgetting their culture and civilization. Lamb tells his Dream Children that the owner of their great – grandmother’s house had moved to a more fashionable mansion, which he had purchased somewhere in the adjoining country. But the old traditional ornaments looked odd and tawdry in his new mansion. Even the reference of ‘bachelor arm – chair’ symbolizes Lamb’s loneliness and absence of a wife and family, “I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor arm – chair”.
In the essay, Lamb has also used Juxtaposition wherein two opposite ideas are stated together. For instance, ‘Busy idle’ is juxtaposition. His diversions kept his mind busy because he would constantly recall the past events or probably, he was idle and that’s why he kept his mind busy, in Lamb’s words; “I had more pleasure in these busy – idle diversions than in all the sweet flavours…”
In his brief essay, Lamb employs the technique of detailed description of certain events and places while he narrates the story to his Dream Children. Lamb has given a detailed description of his grandmother Ms. Field, his brother John L, and also the house in Norfolk where Ms. Field lived.
Also, there are three different settings of places used in the essay. One is Lamb’s real world; the place where Lamb fell asleep on his arm – chair. The second place is Lamb’s dream wherein he narrates the story to his Dream Children. And finally, the place in the story which Lamb was narrating to his Dream Children.