Burial Rites

Dreams Symbol Icon

Throughout Burial Rites, Hannah Kent describes characters’ dreams, which often reflect their desires or anxieties. The characters themselves also place a lot of importance on dreaming. Natan’s mother was rumored to have prophetic dreams, including one in which she spoke to the Devil. Agnes, meanwhile, believes that she met Tóti for the first time in a dream where Tóti helped her across a snowy lava field. Natan has dreams of his own death and Agnes’s role in it even before Fridrik murders him. Clearly, dreams represent more than just imagination for the characters, who believe that dreams can predict the future and provide a connection to the adjacent spiritual world.

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Dreams Symbol Timeline in Burial Rites

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dreams appears in Burial Rites. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...narrative then resumes Agnes’s first person perspective as she describes how at Kornsá, she has dreamed for the first time since her imprisonment. In Agnes’s dream, she and Natan were brewing... (full context)
Chapter 4
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...rumor that Natan’s mother was prophetic and that, when she was pregnant with Natan, she dreamed that a man appeared to her and said she would have a boy. In the... (full context)
Chapter 5
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
The story switches back to Agnes’s first person narration as she describes dreaming about crawling through the snow to her own execution. The dream frightens Agnes awake. She... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...give the family any more reason to hate her. Agnes then tells Tóti about her dream the night before. Tóti prays for Agnes. Afterward, Agnes asks if Tóti thinks it is... (full context)
Chapter 6
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...believes she sees Natan’s face in front of her. It seems to have been a dream, however, as no one else is awake. She whispers Tóti’s name, since he is sleeping... (full context)
Chapter 7
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...does not know whether she believes those stories or not, but confirms that Natan’s mother’s dreams were prophetic. (full context)
Literacy, Language, and the Icelandic Landscape Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...that this was not their first meeting, because they also met in one of her dreams. Agnes tells him that when she was sixteen she dreamt that she was walking barefoot... (full context)
Chapter 8
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...is. She says they were all afraid of Pétur, who told them about his strange dreams. Agnes says that Natan also told her some of the strange dreams he’d had. Across... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...to go back to her knitting. Agnes asks Lauga what Róslín told her about Natan’s dreams. Lauga says that Natan had a dream that an evil spirit stabbed him in the... (full context)
Chapter 10
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...shoulders hard and told her he had been seeing omens, like the waves and his dreams, that he thought foreshadowed his death. (full context)
Women, Violence, and Innocence Theme Icon
...told Agnes that he saw her nailed to the wall by her hair in his dreams of his death. Natan then grabbed Agnes by the hair, causing her to cry out.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Names, Superstition, and Christianity Theme Icon
...She approaches Agnes and sees that she is asleep, but seems to be having bad dreams. As Margrét reaches down to pulls her blanket up, Agnes awakes and accuses Margrét of... (full context)
Truth and Liberation Theme Icon
...sit on the bed as Margrét has a coughing fit. Margrét asks what Agnes was dreaming about. Agnes tells her she was having a nightmare about Fridrik’s farm, where she stayed... (full context)