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Psychoanalytical Literary Criticism in The Little Mermaid

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brittany robinson

on 9 June 2016

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Transcript of Psychoanalytical Literary Criticism in The Little Mermaid

Psychoanalytical Literary Criticism
What is psychoanalytic literary criticism?
This is a theory that explores literature with an emphasis on the unconscious aspects of the human psyche. The focus is often on childhood memories.
Structural Model (id, ego, superego)
*All human behavior is motivated by sexuality*
This is a theory of Sigmund Freud's there is examples in the Little Mermaid such as:

Ariel trades her voice for the man she desires.
Flounder doesn't agree with Ariel's decisions but does what she wants because he is in love with her.
Prince Eric will not give up with 'her voice' because he is in love.

Flounder is a representation of the ego. flounder mediates between what is right and wrong. The ID keeps on winning and taking over. Flounder battles between Sebastian and Ariel and is caught in the middle. Flounder is aware of right and wrong and tries to create a balance but is unsuccessful.
Sebastian is a representation of the superego. Sebastian acts like a jimeny cricket in Pinocchio. He is a part of the conscious mind, trying to guide Ariel to the right decisions. He follows her everywhere just so he can make sure shes on the right path. Sebastian acts as Ariel's conscience.
Ariel is a representation of the ID. Ariel is constantly making decisions based on her own self wants and needs. The ID is very selfish and impulsive. Ariel may mention consequences but doesn't think thoroughly about them.


Superego: the part of the personality representing the conscience, formed in early life by internalization of the standards of parents and other models of behavior.

Ego: the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.
ID: the part of the psyche, residing in the unconscious, that is the source of instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in accordance with the pleasure principle and are modified by the ego and the superego before they are given overt expression.
Unconscious Mind
In Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict.
This scene helps us understand Ariel's unconscious mind and her grotto is the reservoir of all her feelings and etc. She is sad because she wants to be in the real world but knows she never can be. This is the place she keeps all of her unaccepted thoughts, which her father disagrees on.
Ursula's childhood
Ursula is considered the sea witch in the little mermaid and she is a conniving and manipulative person. Psychological theories talk a lot about how childhood memories affect our daily lives and develop your personality. As a child Ursula was ignored by her father and just wanted to be loved but all of her sisters were loved and she was kind of the ugly duckling out of the bunch. as a result of Ursula never being loved she is heartless and pretends to help people get what they want and once there close she takes their happiness away, to make them miserable just as she is.
Theory on childhood memories.
The superego develops during early childhood. The superego operates on the morality principle and motivates us to behave in a socially responsible and acceptable manner.
Work Cited
Alot of this theory explains why Ursula is completely evil.
" if only he could understand me, he doesn't even try i don't see how world with such beautiful things could be bad ".(Ariel, little mermaid)
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