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Comparison of Lord of the Flies and Freud's theory of personality

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Veronica Machnowski

on 9 January 2014

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Transcript of Comparison of Lord of the Flies and Freud's theory of personality

The Iceberg Metaphor
Who was Sigmund Freud?
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist, and the pioneer of psychoanalysis, a system of psychological theory and therapy investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind. He authored many books on the topic, and was one of the most controversial, yet influential thinkers of his time.



The Id
Present from birth
Very useful in infancy, when all of a baby's needs have to be met.
Believed to the primary component of the personality.
Contains all primitive needs and urges.
When the id has a desire for something, that desire needs to be satiated at once.
operates on the
pleasure principle
, and strives for all urges to be met immediately.
The Superego
The superego is the last part of the personality to develop.
Where internalized moral standards lie.
Contains a person's sense of right and wrong.
Strives to suppress some of the unacceptable or immoral urges of the id.
Tries to have a person follow a certain set of ethical standards.


In Relation to
Lord of the Flies
The boys lose touch with the rules and order associated with civilization.
It can be seen how, as a whole, the boys begin to abandon all reason.
Begin to act on the
id
of their personalities more than the ego and the superego.
start to indulge in acts like the especially brutal killing of a sow (Golding 147-150), and the killing of Simon and Piggy (Golding 168-170 & 200-201 respectively).
Piggy as the Conscience
He wants to maintain a sense of civilization the most out of all the boys.
After Jack lets the signal fire go out while hunting, Piggy forgets "his timidity in the agony of his loss" and angrily confronts him about his overly reckless behavior (Golding, 74).
Here, Piggy is acting just like the conscience would. He is trying to raise up in them feelings of guilt and remorse in the group for letting the fire go out.
After Piggy is killed, the group's collective conscience seems to go out the window as well.
Comparison of Golding's
Lord of the Flies
and Freud's Theory of Personality

What is Freud's "Theory of Personality"?
States that the personality is divided into three sections
These are: the id, ego, and superego
These three coexist and interact with each other
Id is entirely in the unconscious
Ego and superego exist in the conscious, pre-conscious, and unconscious.
Jack and the hunters as the Id
The Ego
Responsible for dealing with reality.
Develops from the id.
Tries to express the desires of the id in a socially acceptable manner.
Mediates between the id and superego.
Freud theorized that the key to a healthy personality is a good ego strength.

Parts of the Superego
The Ego Ideal
Contains standards for "good" behavior.
These are often learned.
If one follows these standards, the superego will have them feel emotions like pride and honor.
Holds an image of an ideal self.
The Conscience
Contains rules for what is "bad" behavior.
If one indulges in this behavior, the conscience will make them feel emotions such as guilt and remorse.
The longer Jack stays on the island, the more primitive he becomes.
Jack wishes to operate by the pleasure principle, just as the id. When he wants something, he'll take it without much regard for the others.
Ex. He abandons the signal fire early on in favor of hunting.
Another example of this behavior is when he steals Piggy's glasses. Again, he does this with no regard of how his actions hurt the others, instead "exulting in his achievement" (Golding, 186).
He acts often impulsively and irrationally trying to fulfill his desires.
It is seen how he totally disregards the lives of others at the end. After the rock kills Piggy, he rejoices, and fully intends to kill Ralph.
"Viciously, with full intention, he hurled his spear at Ralph."(Golding 201)
Because of his impulsive, violent, and greedy nature, it is Jack who is most similar to the id.
Ralph as the Ego
The ego is the mediator between the id and the superego.
When comparing it's role to Lord of the Flies, Ralph is the one who serves this function.
When Ralph is elected chief, he sees how this affects Jack, and gives him control of the choir, coming to a compromise.
Ralph tries to maintain a sense of order as chief, but he gets caught up in the violence and savagery of Jack's tribe on several occasions:
The first is when he goes hunting with Jack, and finds himself "full of fright and apprehension and pride"(Golding 124).
Also, when he and Piggy attend the feast. Ralph knows that what the hunters do is wrong but finds himself "eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society" (Golding, 167).
These instances can be viewed as the ego giving in to the id and letting unacceptable behavior happen. As much as Ralph tries to follow the rules instilled in him by society, he finds himself faltering, just as the ego.

Simon as
the Ego Ideal
The ego ideal is the part of the superego that contains the image of an ideal self, and this is the standard for behavior according to the superego.
Simon's innately good behavior could serve as an example to the other boys, just like the image of the ideal self in the ego ideal.
He exhibited exemplary behavior and insight up until his death, like:
Picking fruit for the littluns, as he "found for them the fruit they could not reach, pulled off the choicest from up in the foliage, passed them back down to the endless, outstretched hands." (Golding, 57)
Giving Piggy his share of meat when Jack wouldn't.
Retrieving Piggy's glasses after Jack punched him.
Being the only boy truly aware of the nature of the "beast".
Tragically, the boys hardly follow Simon's example, relying more in their id than their superego.
Conclusion
In
Lord of the Flies
, it is seen just what
the human nature is capable of given the right conditions. What Golding is suggesting is that there is a bit of the "beast" in everyone. It is in the form of those irrational, savage, and violent impulses that are usually kept hidden from society, but ready to come out when the circumstances allow for it. This view is anchored in Freud's theory of the personality, which suggests that if there were to be an absence of civilized rules and laws for the superego to learn, then the deep, destructive forces hidden in the human mind would come to light, just as
they did for the group of boys in
Lord of the
Flies.

*ego strength: how well one's ego can
moderate between the id and superego.
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