Lamb's Prose Style || Dream Children: A Reverie

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      All of Charles Lambs major trademarks as an essayist are to be found in this work: overall a relaxed and colloquial voice and a genteel sensibility incorporating elements of humour, whimsy, strong personal recollection and touches of pathos. All these mark him out as one of the great exponent familiar essay in English in the nineteenth century, along with Thomas De Quincey and William Haztitt. This was a type of writing characterized by a strong personal element and an informal tone on almost any subject of interest to the writer. Although he also tried his hard at many other literary forms, it is fair to say that Lamb really found his distance and most enduring voice in his essays which he first contributed to the, London magazine under the pseudonym of Elia.

Dream Children: A Reverie exhibits all Lambs strengths as an essayist
Dream Children: a reverie

      As already started Dream Children: A Reverie exhibits all Lambs strengths as an essayist, it is short but effective in encompassing a range of moods it starts out on a convivial and realistic note with the picture of a cosy domestic setting in which the writer regales is two children with stories of the family past; yet by the end this picture has dissolved into nothingness is revealed on part of the writer. It is in fact the picture of the family that Lamb longed for but never actually had, as he never married, instead devoting a lifetime to caring for his sister Mary (who who appears as Bridget in his essay) who was afflicted with periodical insanity.

      The real achievement of this piece lies in the compact evocation both of the solid realism of family life and nostalgia for a family past, incorporating the memory of a lost love Alice, and also show of Lambs older brother before merging into the air of dream. Lamb manages the transition from one mode to another seamlessly, conveying an ultimate sense of loss without descending to sentimentality. More he also skillfully conjures  a genuine sense of eeriness when the two children reveal themselves to be mere dream the products of wishful thinking before the dreamer wakes up.

      While I stood gazing both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding and still receding still nothing at lost but two mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance, which without speech strongly impressed upon me the effects of speech: We are not of Alice nor of thee nor are we children at all. We are nothing; less than nothing and dreams. We are only what might have been... The realistic and intimate picture thus dissolves, recedes giving way to ghosts. The style is entirely suited to the subject matter at this point, slow paced, languorous and markedly different from earlier parts of the essay. This dissolution of realism into dream is a stylistic trick more effective than any self indulgent musings on the past and its lost possibilities could have been.

      This essay exhibits two major concerns of the Romantic age: a fascination with the past and also with the Supernatural. Lamb was certainly, keenly interested in the past, but although not generally given to dreams or visions - unlike for instance, his fellow essayist Thomas De quincey he mingles realism memory and trim in a memorable and concise manager in this essay.

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