Study Guide

The Interpretation of Dreams Ambition

By Sigmund Freud

Ambition

Throughout The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud tends to play down his ambition. As smartypants scholars have noted, though, Freud's ambition is just about everywhere in the book. Just think of it: this dude's argument is that a deeper knowledge of dreaming "will lead us to a knowledge of man's archaic heritage, of what is physically innate in him" (7.3.33). The guy is practically announcing that his theory of dreams will unlock the door to human nature. If that's not an ambitious goal to set for a course of study, we don't know what is.

Questions About Ambition

  1. Although Freud tends to play down his ambition in The Interpretation of Dreams, he sometimes admits to it freely. In what moments is he most honest about his ambitions?
  2. Throughout The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud is sometimes boastful and sometimes self-deprecating. What is the relationship between his sense of ambition and his sense of self-doubt?
  3. What literary, mythological, and religious figures appear in Freud's dreams as representations of his personal ambitions?
  4. In what other ways are Freud's ambitions represented in his dreams?

Chew on This

There's no question that The Interpretation of Dreams was an ambitious project. Not only did Freud set out to develop a comprehensive theory of dreaming, but he also set out to advance an original model of the human mind itself.

At one point in The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud suggests that he never considered himself an ambitious man (4.1.7). However, Freud's own analyses of his dreams reveal that he did come to recognize his powerful ambitions—and to see that they had been part of him since his early youth.

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