Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lord of Psychology-The Id, The Ego and The Superego

Brief Explanation-
The Id, the Ego and the Superego are all part of Freud’s theory that the mind has three parts.
The Id- Carnal desires, desires for food, warmth, clothing, etc. The Id is like a small child with no sense of delayed gratification and conscience. The Id wants things and wants them now. The Id does not think of how this could be bad in the long term or to others. When the Id wants something the Id does not listen to any objections.
The Ego- The Ego plays the part of the middleman; the Ego must balance the desires of the Id, the conscientiousness of the Superego and what is available.
The Superego- The Superego is conscience, when you are little and entirely ruled by the Id, the Superego is like your parents saying, "That isn't right". The Superego is like the rules that you must follow, this is basically morality. The Superego is the opposite of the Id.
The Id, The Ego and The Superego in The Lord of the Flies-
In The Lord of the Flies the boys are stranded on an island while their sense of morality is not fully formed. The younger you are the more completely ruled by the Id than you are later. The boys are removed from outside influence. Three of the boys come to represent different things in the story. Jack represents the Id, Ralph represents the Ego and Piggy represents the Superego.
Jack as the Id-
In the beginning Jack’s craving for power becomes evident. He desires power and he wants it now. He becomes a monomaniac and is obsessed with his desire to kill a pig. He refuses to listen to how this is bad or how he should do something else. He hit Piggy (the Superego) when Piggy told him he shouldn’t have let the fire go out. He does not want to wait and he hates to be instructed in morality by the Superego (Piggy). He is willing to resort to unlawful activities to get what he wants. He is violent and lawless. He reacts against order and always wants his way at the cost of society. Jack tries to get power by preying on fears of the beast with out thinking of how devastating this could be to the littluns. In short, all of his actions are exactly those of a little and undeveloped child who is ruled by the Id.
Ralph as the Ego-
Ralph is the democratic leader of the boys. He tries to fairly keep the little ones safe and prevent Jack from resting control. He protects democracy and tries to make the best of their surroundings. He tries to create a civilization but tries to mollify Jack by making him the leader of the Hunters. He helps Piggy create rules that keep them from savagery and is mainly on the side of the Superego though not as passionate and occasionally succumbs to the Id but usually repents later. He balances Jack (Id) and Piggy (Superego) and the littluns. The way Ralph fights for democracy is an example of how the Ego would want a democracy so that everyone has input. In a functional democracy the Ego is in charge and that is symbolized by the fact that Ralph is elected the leader.
Piggy as the Superego-
Piggy is highly educated and scientific. This is demonstrated by the fact that he is the one to realize the need for taking names. He follows the rules of conscience and society always. He tries to prevent the Id from running wild. He fights for democracy and is the enemy of Jack (Id). Piggy always tries to recreate the society that they had at home and school. He constantly tells the other boys when they are doing the wrong thing and tells them that they are departing from civilization. He is never violent and is kind to the littluns as seen when he is the one to speak for a shy littlun scared of the beastie. He tries to debunk the myths of the beast to prevent panic.
The Lord of the Flies as an allegory for Freud’s theory-
In The Lord of the Flies the boys are on an island and the Id and the Superego are fighting for control. Some of these battles are the Signal Fire, the Huts and Failed Meeting. If you look you can see how Piggy/Superego is trying to keep the group organized and moral while Jack/Id is disrupting it. Also you can see Ralph/Ego trying to recreate a democratic society where everyone is happy. The whole book shows the way that the Id, the Ego and the Superego try to work as one when they have no way to escape each other.
Eros and Thanatos-
There are two other relevant concepts. These are called Eros and Thanatos.
Eros is the love of life and happiness. This is the side of people that likes puppies and giving people flowers. In Greek Eros literally means "love". In Greek mythology Eros is the equivalent of Cupid.
Thanatos is the opposite of Eros. Thanatos is the darker side of humanity. Thanatos is the drive to do risky, potentially dangerous activities. It is also the urge to hurt/kill. Thanatos is the side of people that prompts them, when near a cliff, to think about what would happen if they jumped off it. Thanatos in Greek mythology is a minor death god.
Eros and Thanatos in The Lord of the Flies-
In the book, it is possible to see Eros and Thanatos acting upon the boys. The conch and signal fire and Simon come to represent Eros while Jack, Roger and the Beast become the embodiment of Thanatos.
Conch/Signal Fire/Simon-
The conch is supposed to grant rights to everyone. It allows freedoms and democracy, It keeps them alive and hopefully happy. The signal fire is supposed to get them rescued. Both it and the conch are supposed to keep them from cruelty and viciousness. Simon is a kind person who supports the littuns in their pursuit of happiness. He is helpful and does not hurt anyone or seem to have urges to hurt anyone. They do not work well with Thanatos/Jack/Roger/Beastie. Simon does not hunt with them and the conch stands in the way of Jack grabbing total power. The signal fire is a beacon of the hope that Jack does not care about since he likes being on the island. The signal fire keeps hope alive that slows Jack down in his hunt for power and satisfying his impulses. The conch and signal fire are supposed to keep them from letting beastie take over and Simon tries to persuade people that there is no beast.
As stated in "Jack as The Id" Jack Merridew is filled with urges toward violence. These are urges toward killing which his Id side allows freedom. He kills pigs to satisfy his cravings toward Thanatos though later he satisfies these with other things. Roger also comes to be similar to Thanatos. I cannot post about Roger succumbing to Thanatos since it occurs later in the book. The beast is basically a symbol of Thanatos since it represents cruelty and viciousness which are what Thanatos is.


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Kelli Williams-Korbel said...

Thank you for this! I am linking your blog for my students who are struggling with analyzing the novel on a Freudian level :)