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Boulevard of Broken Dreams

By Devina (The Charmed One)

I couldn't resist the title; I was listening to 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' by Greenday and since this article will be dealing primarily with dreams featured in the HP books, my fingers simply added this as the title!

Now, speaking without reference to HP as such, dreams generally mean a few things (at least, according to Sigmund Freud they do!). First, they give us something to do while we're asleep (actually, he said "guardians of sleep" or something); you got to admit; dreams/nightmares make for interesting viewing (if you remember the dream, that is)! Secondly, they're supposed to represent our innermost desires, what our mind truly wants. And… (This one is my idea of dreams) sometimes, they show us what might just happen in the future.

Now is where we bring Harry Potter into this fray of dreams. If you've been reading carefully, which I'm sure a lot of you have been doing, you would have noticed that Harry has been having a lot of dreams right from the first book, and the dreams that he's been having had become more pronounced especially in the fifth book. In fact the last book pretty much had Harry's dreams as its backbone. You might be thinking, "Big deal, why does she have to devote an entire article to his dreams?" Well, because I feel like it, and because it might be interesting to see how his dreams might have anything to do with the actual plot line of the books.

And so we finally enter Harry's Dream Land.

The beginning…
The first dream that is ever talked about is in the first book, where Harry dreamt of a flying motorbike. This obviously had more to do with his unconscious mind letting him have a glimpse of his past, which he did not know existed. He had repressed them for so long, since the age of 1 year that they were just waiting to be let out. The reason Harry enjoyed having this dream so much was because it was a fantastical part of his life, something unknown untouched by the dreary nature of the Dursleys. The first two books I'm not going to devote any writing space, mainly because the action literally starts from the third book onwards, slowly building up and then exploding into veritable fireworks of dreams in the fifth book.

Prisoner of Azkaban
I quote, Harry dozed fitfully, sinking into dreams full of clammy, rotted hands and petrified pleading… This is right after the Quidditch match where he falls from his Nimbus. Traumatized after a close encounter with the Dementors, I don't blame him for these dreams. The Dementors affect Harry the most because he has seen things that others have not, as Lupin explained to Harry himself. The Dementors attack is mainly mental, and they seem to be messing with his dreams as well. Also, the dreams are a direct reference to his mothers' cries before she died.

Next, He was walking through a forest, his Firebolt over his shoulder, following something silvery white. It was winding its way through the trees ahead, and he could only catch glimpses of it between the leaves. Anxious to catch up with it, he sped up, but as he moved faster, so did his quarry. Harry broke into a run and ahead, he heard hooves gathering speed. Now he was running flat out, and ahead he could hear galloping. Then he turned a corner into a clearing and - In my opinion, Harry's dreaming about Prongs. Alternatively, he's having a vision of some sort about his Patronus, which as we know, takes the form of a stag, his fathers' Animagus. I think this is a turning point with regard to Harry growing through his dreams. Remember he hasn't seen his Patronus in full form yet, nor does he have any clue as such about "Prongs". It's almost as if his mind is giving him clues about what possibly lies ahead. The silvery-white points towards the Patronus form, and hooves towards an equestrian animal.

The only other dream in this book is about the Quidditch Final…remember? With Neville playing instead of him, dragons the means of transport of the Slytherin team? Nothing to explain here; just a pure and simple case of nerves!!!

Goblet of Fire
The next year in Harry's life is perhaps one of the most tumultuous of any we've ever seen. The return of the evil sorcerer determined to kill him is definitely nerve-wrecking added to which a school mate is killed in front of his eyes. His first brush with death … death of a young person … alive one moment, cold the next. What does that do to him? The Goblet of Fire mainly starts off with a chapter which was taking place miles away from Harry, but he can see it happening in the form of a dream. You might wonder why I'm bothering to mention it when it wasn't a dream as such, it was a real incident. But the point is, from Harry's perspective, it WAS a dream, until proved different later. In it, we know he sees Voldemort being capable of holding a wand again, and killing a Muggle, namely Frank Bryce. And of course, he realizes that Voldemort could be planning to kill him. Yet again… He might have thought of this being a case of the jitters and the like, but we, as readers, know better. This vision is important as it is the first time Harry has a clear, direct and true link with Voldemort. This link of course pretty much remains a background to the remaining plotline, as we would find out later. Perhaps the only thing in this "dream" that distinguishes it from the others Harry has had before would be the pain from his scar. None of the others had any physical pain accompanying them…

A minor dream that Harry actually manages to have without any sinister accompaniments is the one he has while dozing off at the World Cup campsite…him performing the Wronski Feint. That, in a way, was touching simply because Harry was dreaming about himself; he was dreaming about something truly magical to him that he wanted to achieve, rather than dreams about threats, death plots and the like.

An important dream/vision (Please remember that in the latter books, the line between 'dreams' and 'visions' does get blurry, because of Harry's special abilities) that Harry has comes in Chapter 29 'The Dream' in the 4th book. Recall that Harry falls of to sleep in Trelawney's class, and "dreams" of a conversation between Voldemort and Wormtail at the end of which Voldemort tortures Wormtail with the Cruciatus Curse. This was definitely not a dream per se; it was more of a vision, and here he clearly steps over having just "dreams". Here is where Harry truly realizes his dreams are more than just that; they make him, well, a Seer if you will. The pain he has at the end of this dream had less to do with Wormtail's physical pain, and more to do with Voldemort's cruelty. Remember that Harry has no clear link with Wormtail as such, besides having saved him. Wormtails' pain cannot physically induce any reactions in Harry's physical self.

The point is…however deep these dreams might be, or whatever inclination they had to do with what would happen next, probably nothing could have prepared any of us for the onslaught of dreams, visions, call them what you will, in the fifth installment of the series. The number of them in 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' is pretty staggering.

Order of the Phoenix
A recurring dream would have to be when Harry mentions him "visiting the graveyard in his nightmares". This, obviously, is an allusion to Cedric's death in the graveyard at the hands of Voldemort. I mean, if Harry DIDN'T dream about this, well, I'd have thought something was up. Consider witnessing the death of a youth in front of your eyes; don't you think having nightmares about that is normal. There's nothing sinister here…just the mind of a young adolescent trying to make sense of what traumatized him.

And then, I quote, "…even when he escaped the nightmares about Cedric he had unsettling dreams about long dark corridors, all finishing in dead ends and locked doors, which he supposed had something to do with the trapped feeling he had when he was awake." Sure, Harry is right; he's feeling trapped and cut off from the magical world, having heard nothing from anyone he knows and loves for weeks. Come to think of it, the corridors probably symbolize a journey of sorts that he is going through, or will embark on, and all he wants is to reach the destination at the end, but his path is blocked. Something or someone is in his way, stopping him from attaining his goal. The goal could be killing Voldemort, and the doors could be someone shielding him from Harry. We'll probably find out in installment seven.

The day before Harry and his friends left from Grimmauld Place for Hogwarts, "Harry had a troubled nights sleep. His parents wove in and out of his dreams, never speaking. Mrs. Weasley sobbed over Kreacher's dead body, watched by Ron and Hermione who were wearing crowns, and yet again Harry found himself walking down a corridor ending in a locked door." Mad Eye Moody talking about his parents the night before clearly followed Harry to his sleep, as did Mrs. Weasley's Boggart, and Ron and Hermione becoming Prefects. Again, Harry seems to be looking for answers that he doesn't get, him having to face a locked door yet again. It's quite possible the crowns on Ron and Hermione symbolize a 'King' and 'Queen' sort of relationship in the future along with them being Prefects. But then again, I am a Ron-Hermione shipper, so I'd obviously say that!

Right throughout the book we have references to Harry dreaming about corridors and locked doors, so individual references are something I'm not going to deal with separately.

After Harry realizes that kisses can possibly be 'wet', he has a dream…which, in this case, turns out to be a vision. It's of Mr. Weasley being bitten by a snake. But in his dream, the snake was him. Luckily, Harry had the sense to realize it was no ordinary dream. Here's the point where he realizes that somehow his link with Voldemort is getting stronger. Yeah, he does find out later that he's feeling exactly what Voldemort is, but he has sort of figured out what his mind is capable of.

After that, he has his recurring dreams about the corridors and all that, but there was one thing that caught my attention: "He reached the black door, but could not open it…he stood gazing at it, desperate for entry…something he wanted with all his heart lay beyond, a prize beyond his dreams" This got me thinking: WHAT does Harry want with all his heart? No one can say with certainty, can they? However, the Mirror of Erised does help us a little bit there. Harry wants his parents…a sense of familial ties. Also, he most definitely wants Voldemort to be 'vanquished' and peace to finally descend in his tumultuous life. However utopian we can get, it's pretty fair to say that the dead cannot be brought back (but remember, the Department of Mysteries might be looking into the matter of death; the veil is yet unexplained), so what's next? Voldemort's downfall? Right. Here's where the prophecy comes in, although I must say I expected it to say more. The prize beyond his dreams although makes me think we're not only dealing with the prophecy here. Harry sees the prophecy as a burden and not as a gift, neither was it something that he wanted with all his heart. Is it possible there's more hidden behind the Department of Mysteries door that can help Harry get what he truly wants?

A few more corridor dreams and Harry is even more anxious to open that door no matter WHAT happens. And we pass along the way emotion bursts where Harry can actually feel exactly what Voldemort is feeling, and visions where he can see Voldemort with his minions (isn't that a nice word? Minions; it's so…evil) punishing them (remember Rookwood?) or sharing his plan of world-domination and Harry-killing with them. However, now Harry has merged himself with Voldemort in these visions. While we cannot say for sure that Voldemort isn't manipulating Harry in the visions prior to the "Sirius" vision, it is a possibility, but if it isn't…yet again, I stress that their link has grown in leaps and bounds.

But now…the NUMERO UNO of all these visions/dreams is undoubtedly the one where Harry is manipulated to think that Sirius is being tortured and captured by Voldemort. It is this dream that leads Harry to go to the Department of Mysteries in the first place, and in a long series of events ends with Sirius meeting his alleged death. (Ok, so he's dead, but there are a lot of unanswered questions; like where's his body, for instance? I'm not going into that now…but that doesn't mean the doubt doesn't exist) In this case, however, there is no "hidden meaning" of the dream as such, except Harry knows here that it is no dream, but something that's either happening or could happen. Only thing is, he pretty much forgot to consider that he could have been made to think that.

He walks a lonely street…on the boulevard of broken dreams…
So what's the end line after going through the dreams and visions that Harry has had? Can there be an end line? Like the famous song by Greenday, (No, I am not their publicity front-woman, nor have I bought their album; I just like this song!) Harry does have a lot of dreams that symbolize the amount of stress and hardships he has to take on in spite of his age, and not only that, the 'street' he walks on is quite lonely considering no one else can truly empathize with what he has to go through. So can these dreams influence plots? As we've seen, they definitely had a vital role to play especially in the fifth book. Had Harry not been manipulated to see that dream (vision, dream; same difference) he would have hardly stormed into the Ministry of Magic so helplessly unprepared. Had Harry not 'seen' Mr. Weasley get bitten, he would have probably been dead. Even in Goblet of Fire, had Harry not seen the killing of Frank Bryce, he would have hardly known until the end that Voldemort was well and truly back. Can we expect to see more dreams in the future? Oh yes we can. Even if Harry controls what he can and cannot see through mastery over Legilimency and Occlumency, the journey into the mind, perhaps the most mysterious and magical of the mundane life, is something that cannot be ignored in these books. They've been a constant throughout, and no doubt intend to remain so in the forthcoming two books.

It's interesting to see how dreams have played an important role with regard to Harry's life. Indeed, for some they are the central focus. It is of course, important to note that no matter how much we read into dreams, how much ever we try and interpret them, they remain just that. Dreams.

Unless of course they're predictions, visions that is to say. You decide.

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