(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Night’s deep shadows lie over sleeping Llareggub, a small, decayed seaside resort village—so a guidebook might describe the town, a place of no particular interest to the sportsman, the health seeker, or the tourist. Under the black, moonless sky, the cobblestone streets are silent, and Milk Wood is empty of lovers, the darkness disturbed only by the secret, rustling animal life. In their darkened houses the people of Llareggub sleep, their dreams filled with love or hate, desire or dismay.

Captain Cat is a retired, blind sea captain. Through his dreams echo the voices of sailor friends lost long ago, with whom he shared the same girl, Rosie Probert. Mog Edwards, the draper, in sleep loves Myfanwy Price more than all the cloths and weaves in the great Cloth Hall of the world. Myfanwy, secretly in love with Mog, promises in her sleep to warm his heart beside the fire so that he can wear it under his vest after he closes his shop. Mr. Waldo lies in a drunken slumber beside his unhappy, unloved wife; other women he has known pass through his dreams. Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard gives orders to the two husbands she has bossed into their graves. Inspectors fly into the dreams of Mrs. Beynon, the butcher’s wife, to persecute her husband for selling the meat of cats and owls. Her daughter, Gossamer, a schoolteacher, dreams of her lover, a small, rough man with a bright bushy tail like a fox’s. Sinbad Sailors hugs his pillow and imagines that he is embracing Gossamer Beynon. His grandmother dreams of the Garden of Eden. Willy Nilly, the postman, walks fourteen miles in his sleep. Polly Garter dreams of babies.

Day breaks, and the people arise and go about their business. The Reverend Eli Jenkins, whose God is a God of innocence and wonder, goes to his door and, in the bright sunshine,...

(The entire section is 737 words.)