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Psychoanalytic School of Criticism: Lord of the Flies

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Lydia Schreiber

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Psychoanalytic School of Criticism: Lord of the Flies

Psychoanalytic School of Criticism: Lord of the Flies
What is the psychoanalytic approach?
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, developed theories that our desires and unconscious conflicts lead to the development of defenses, like repression, fear of death, denial, and selective memory. Freud maintained that our unconscious gave rise to three areas of the mind that wrestle for dominance as we grow:

the id - the location of all basic human drives and urges; follows impulsive wants; puts selfish desires above the well being of others

the ego - the mediator that resolves conflict between the id and the super ego; location of the defenses

the super ego - area of the mind that houses judgment; moral compass
Society as a whole
Civilization conditions people to suppress their underlying urges like aggression; since the boys no longer have the suppressive adults around to make their conditioning have lasting effects, the true nature of humans is unleashed. A genuine, primitive society is allowed to exist.
p. 38 "The coral was scribbled in the sea..." explains how the conditioning on the boys was incomplete, therefore unable to completely suppress primitive urges.
Ralph is the manifestation of the ego because he mediates between the id (Jack/underlying conflicts and desires) and the superego (Piggy/the right thing to do.)

p. 16-17 Ralph is directed by the superego (Piggy) to blow the conch to gather any survivors and thus becomes the chief
p. 75 Ralph expressed some interest to succumb to the id during the hunters' chant
p.81-82; p. 89 During an assembly, Ralph uses his authority to suppress the id (Jack & fear)
p. 156-157 Ralph at first admits that Simon was murdered, then succumbs to superego's regression when he denies murder.
Jack is the living embodiment of the id for his exploitation of primitive urges and obvious noncompliance within the established "democracy."
p. 33 Jack shows his negation to the newly formed democracy by mocking a critical element of the civilized society; rules.
p. 69-70 Jack lets the fire go out when he and his hunters leave their assigned post. While the boys are hunting they kill their first pig and then proceed to find the other boys. By Jack telling Ralph of the "lashings of blood," it is clearly visible that Jack has satisfied his immediate savage impulses to kill; however, while in the process he ruined the boys' chance of rescue that night.
p. 91 Jacks connection to id is also seen when the boys are having a meeting to discuss whether or not there is a beast or ghost on the island. Jack had a desire for power and challenged the rule of the conch and Ralph’s rule to try to gain power, completely ignoring the goal of the meeting; calming the littluns down.
p. 150 Jack again challenges Ralph as leader after the two groups had been split up and Ralph's group goes to eat dinner with Jack's. Jack says, “Who’ll join my tribe and have fun?” Jack just wants immediate satisfaction in his quest for power, not realizing that Ralph is the better leader. It is clear that Jack represents the id, over coming Ralph, the ego, and Piggy, the super ego, with the lack of authority. This proves that without authority or a dominant ego, civilization breaks down.
In the beginning of the story, Roger has aggressive urges but doesn't act on them; instead, he throws rocks at several boys - Henry, Ralph, Samneric - and barely misses on purpose. He does, however, get some aggression out of his system when he engages in killing the sow with jack and the choir boys, but keeps suppressing his urges to hit others with stones because of the firm hand held by society that keeps people moderately civil. Societal conditioning truly leaves him, though, when he smashes Piggy with a boulder and subsequently takes more charge in the savage group. He is finally satisfying his dissatisfied id/desires.
p. 62 Throws rocks at Henry "to miss"
p. 175 Roger threw rocks between Samneric, causing them to falter a bit, and feels a sense of empowerment through this act
p. 180 Ralph notices a "curious air-noise" that is described as "Zup!" It is simply Roger throwing more rocks. Soon thereafter, Roger crushes Piggy with a large boulder.
p. 182 "That's not the way," Roger says to Jack when "dealing with" Sam and Eric
p. 192 Ralph hears cries, gasps, squeals coming from Samneric when Roger interrogates them on their chase to hunt down Ralph

Simon is the manifestation of the super ego because there are times throughout the book when his society/civilization based morals come into play to try to help the group.

pg. 89- While holding the conch, Simon tells the group the beast is actually them (the boys).
pg. 111- Simon tells Ralph that he thinks Ralph will get back home alright.
pg. 146 & 147- Simon comes across the parachutist and untangles the strings.
Killing Simon
The act was out of fear of death because the boys refer to Simon as a beast that they grabbed in the darkness of the night.
"Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"
Incident was an expression of fear of death, which was later countered by a defense described by Freud: denial.
Represents the turning point at which the power shifts and most of the big'uns follow Jack to his part of the island. This power shift is a manifestation of the struggle for dominance between the ego (Ralph) and the id (Jack).
Killing the Sow
p. 134-136: Jack and the choir boys hunt down and ambush a sow, joking about and acting out the gruesome event afterward.
Symbolizes a rape scene and the repressed urges sexual and aggressive in nature.
The pig is female, the boys engage in laughter at and humiliation of the dead sow after, and the boys chant phrases that are sexually suggestive.
manifestation of the super ego
p. 92 Piggy tries to convince Ralph to remain the chief.
p. 157 Piggy denies that Simon's death was murder, telling Ralph it was an accident; shows regression from superego morality.
p.171 Piggy admits that Simon's death was really murder.
p. 171 Piggy thinks he'll get his glasses back because "it's the right thing to do."
p. 173 Piggy reminds Ralph about the fire, which is a physical representation of the collaboration between the ego and the superego.
The assembly and conch together represent what's left of the conditioning that civilization had on the boys on the island. At the beginning, it rounds them all up and they elect a leader democratically. Later, the conch was like the physical form of the ego in that it settled conflicts between Jack and Ralph and designated dominance to whomever possessed it. The conch an dassemble also help to keep the boys (particularly the littluns) under control because they are reminded of the old world where adults helped keep underlying aggression, desire to constantly hunt and play, and the fear of the "beastie" in check.
chapter 5 - Ralph tells the boys how and where to be sick and "make messes;" he tells the group to stop laughing at Percival when he is trying trying to speak; all the boys argue over what the "beastie" really is and if it actually exists at all (p. 88)
conch helps to assemble what boys are left on the "civilized" part of the island after Simon's death; they then bring the conch with them in order to have some power to bring about civilized talk when traversing to the savages to retrieve Piggy's spectacles
by Clarissa Brown, Lydia Schreiber, and Ross Young
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