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ENG3U: Sigmund Freud and Lord of the Flies
Transcript of ENG3U: Sigmund Freud and Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies
Freud was born as Sigismund Schlomo Freud on May 6, 1856
At age seventeen, he entered the University of Vienna, where he studied in the faculty of medicine
A period of intense work and self-analysis, further inspired by the death of his father, led Freud to his publication of
The Interpretation of Dreams
in 1900, and of
Psychopathology of Everyday Life
Superego, Ego, and Id
A flurry of work, inspired by the death of his daughter Sophie, resulted in the 1923
The Ego and the Id
. This work contained a final formulation of his structural theory of the mind
As children, do we have a perception of what is right or wrong? Can we think for ourselves or do we simply base our beliefs on those of our parents? And when do we really make the change from a trusting child to a discerning adult?
The book begins with a group of kids who are trapped on an island in war time. The interesting thing from a Freudian perspective is that these kids are just that, kids, and they
do not have parental guidance on this island. They are left entirely to their own devices, and as a result rely on their previously formed super egos, egos, and id
In the Lord of The Flies, the super ego is interesting because as kids, they have not fully developed this part of their mind. For them, they can only base their super ego on their perception of the rules and laws of the outside world, and they can only imitate what they have seen from their role models and adult figures in their lives but they themselves are not able to appreciate the laws or rules of society.
The boys are characterized in a way that fits perfectly into Freudian analysis. There are many characters, but the three key ones are Ralph, Roger, and Piggy, who could also be
interpreted as being the Ego, Id, and close to Super Ego
Roger is the boy who is closest to representing the id.
First seen throwing stones at the young’uns, at this stage Roger is not completely id-ridden.
He still has that sense of society in his thinking, and as a result throws the stones in order that they just miss the young’uns rather than hit them.
He is still held by “the taboo of the old life” and is not completely conscience free. It doesn’t take long, though, for Roger to become completely id-driven, and when he violently murders Piggy, he is acting completely on his natural survival and selfish instincts, with absolutely no consideration of morals or consequence
Ralph is the boy who is always practical, knows himself and his own limits, and knows what he wants. In Freudian theory, the ego is the part of the mind which seeks to please the id’s desires, however is also concerned about the long term consequences, and will weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.
We see many examples where these exact traits are shown by Ralph, and one such example is seen when the boys are discussing the beast. Naturally, everyone is frightened by the beast, but Ralph shows his discerning qualities when he says “I’m frightened myself sometimes, only that’s nonsense!” His id and natural instincts tell him that he should be frightened, but his ego and common sense tells him that the beast is “nonsense"
Here, Ralph’s calm, thoughtful nature
shows us the development of the other part of his mind, the super ego. Ralph is the one
character who throughout the story shows a change of nature for the better. The real turning point for him is when quiet, innocent Simon is murdered, and he is involved. Ralph realizes at this moment that there is a difference between right and wrong, and that we control our own destiny, and our decisions affect others, not just ourselves
Freud developed psychoanalysis, a method through which an analyst unpacks unconscious conflicts based on the free associations, dreams and fantasies of the patient. His theories on child sexuality, libido and the ego, among other topics, were some of the most influential academic concepts of the 20th century.
The id is the
primitive and instinctive
component of personality. It consists of all the inherited (i.e.
) components of personality, including the sex (life) instinct –
(which contains the libido), and the aggressive (death) instinct -
The id is the
impulsive (and unconscious)
part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the
. The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop an ego and super-ego
The id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented.
The ego develops in order to mediate between the
external real world
. It is the
component of personality. Ideally the ego works by
whereas the id is chaotic and totally unreasonable.
The ego operates according to the reality principle, working out realistic ways of satisfying the id’s demands, often compromising or postponing satisfaction to avoid negative consequences of society. The ego considers
in deciding how to behave.
The ego has no concept of
right or wrong
; something is good simply if it achieves its end of satisfying without causing harm to itself or to the id. It engages in
secondary process thinking
, which is
, and orientated towards
If a person’s ideal self is too high a standard, then whatever the person does will
. The ideal self and conscience are largely determined in childhood from
and how you were brought up.
The superego incorporates the
values and morals of society
which are learned from one's parents and others. It seeks to control the
The superego consists of two systems: The
. The conscience can punish the ego through causing feelings of guilt. For example, if the ego gives in to the id's demands, the superego may make the person feel bad through guilt.
Piggy is probably the most similar to the super ego, however as he is a child, he is still not
fully developed. There are times when Piggy shows appreciation of rules and societal laws,
and in fact for most of the text he is always worrying and thinking about what he should be
doing, but there is always the underlying sense that although he follows the rules and can
see that rules are a necessary part of society in order for it to function, he doesn’t really
understand why the rules are put in place, or what they are actually doing.
He is able to accept the surface facts that rules are needed, but the deeper thinking required to ask or understand why this is so is not something that he can do at this stage of his maturity.
So, while he is the closest to being the critical, considerate superego, Piggy too has some maturing and living to do before he is fully developed
In Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses Sigmund Freud theory of personality by a group of boys who are stranded on an island. Over time they face many problems, that change how they believe and behave. Ralph is the self that acts out as the leader and keep command of the group. Jack is the Id by being unsupported with Ralph and focuses to a greater extent on his ordeal. Then finally Piggy is the superego by being protective of the group. In the real world, Sigmund Freud theory is presented, but not in the ways William Golding shows it. People in the real world have these 3 personalities, but it does not make them turn into savages and start killing.
The Id is what provides the most primal urges and instinctual drives that want to fulfill desires, even if those desires are not allowed or are looked down upon by society. Jack well embodies the Id, as his main goal on the island is to “Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Bash her in” (page 75)! This is obviously very violent and primal, not too useful, and is meant as a source of joy or pleasure. It is bad enough to have the desire to kill things, but it is entirely another to actually do it.
The Id does not solely have to do with violence and killing, however, it encompasses all drives that demand immediate gratification, despite the consequences. “You go away, Ralph. You keep to your end. This is my end and my tribe. You leave me alone” (page 176). Jack says this after he has recently broken away from Ralph and formed a tribe of his own. This statement by Jack is by no means violent or very threatening, but it does show the Id being the most powerful Freudian division in Jack.