Lord Of The Flies- The Id, Ego Essay, Research Paper
The ID, Ego and Super EGO
Many have looked at Freud’s description of the human mind as something that describes people and the way of their behavior. Freud s division of the human mind consists of three things: the ID, the Ego and the Super Ego. In William Golding s novel, Lord of the Flies, these Freudian concepts can be compared to the characters of Jack, Piggy, Simon, and Ralph. Jack fits into the concept of the Id that overpowers the Ego and Super Ego, as is seen in his violent urges and carrying out of killing things and the negative steps he takes in getting there. Piggy and Simon fit into the concept of the Super Ego, in the sense that Piggy is logical and proper in his actions, and Simon cares about other people and is and good-willed in his ways. Ralph fits into the concept of the Ego, as he is caught between the Super Ego (Piggy and Simon) and the Id (Jack). Ralph knows what is right and what is wrong, but at times he can be mean or not feel sorry for people. Overall, many of the characters in Lord of the Flies portray Freud s description the human mind, the id, ego, and super-ego.
To begin with, the id is what provides the most primal urges and drives that want to fulfill desires, even if those desires are not allowed or are looked down upon by society. Jack represents the id, as his main goal on the island is to Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Bash her in (page 75)! This is very violent and primal, and in his eyes 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 go ahead and do it. The first time Jack kills, he brutally slaughters a mother sow, her belly fringed with a row of piglets that slept or burrowed and squeaked (page 134). Jack was on top of the sow, stabbing downward with his knife then [he] found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands (page 135). This is horrifically awful. The pig is a mother and is nursing piglets. The death of any pig on the island is unnecessary due to the fact that there are plenty of fish to be caught and there is plenty of fruit to survive on. If the death of a pig was necessary, it doesn t have to be killed in such a violent manner as this. This shows the id in Jack due to the fact that his urge is to kill. In order to fulfill his desire and wanting, he must kill. The id does not only have to do with violence and killing; however, it combines all drives that demand instant gratification, despite the consequences. Jack decides to form his own tribe, and says to Ralph You go away, Ralph. You keep to your end. This is my end and my tribe. You leave me alone (page 176). This statement by Jack is not violent or very threatening, but it does show the Id being the most powerful part of Freud s theory in Jack. By breaking away, Jack is disregarding the fact that he is destroying the island s society and decreasing their chances of rescue and survival, simply so he may feel more powerful; that is the id at work.
Another one of Freud s theories of the human mind is the Super Ego. The Super Ego can be described as the the [division] which reasons, masters impulses and most of the time controls the environment around it. It helps us come to terms with reality, with the world as it is (quote from Stevenson of Brown University, it well summarizes the Freudian concept of the Super Ego). In Lord of the Flies, the two characters that best portray the Super Ego are Piggy and Simon. Though they are two very different characters, they both have the same basic morals. Piggy, to begin with, is logical and intelligent; he thinks things through. In example of this is when Ralph states I can t think. Not like Piggy Piggy could think. He could go step by step inside that fat head of his, only Piggy was no chief. But Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains (page 78). The ability to think things through in a logical way is a characteristic of the Super Ego. Piggy has always been around adults his whole life, and constantly talks about his auntie, and this is shown when he says My auntie told me not to run on account of my asthma. (page 9). This shows how he lives with in reality and rules, just like a Super Ego. Another Super Ego-based character in the book is Simon. He is bright, but not in a book smart kind of way. Simon can well-understand emotions and the way people feel. He takes action when people are treated poorly and sees the good side of things. When Jack kills the first pig, he does not distribute any meat to Piggy. Being the kind person he is, Simon shoved his piece of meat over the rocks to Piggy, who grabbed it (page 74). This quote shows that Simon in a way is like a parent. He notices that Piggy does not receive any meat, so he forfeits his meat, to feed the stomach of someone else; much like the role of a parent. Another example of when Simon portrays his parent-like figure is when he is building huts for everyone along with Ralph; as everyone splashes around and plays in the water. This is shown when Ralph says to jack And I work all day with nothing but Simon and you come back and don t even notice the huts . Simon physically sees the good of the island, and he often visits an enclosed clearing in the jungle where Nothing moved but a pair of gaudy butterflies danced round each other [and] the white tips of the flowers rose delicately to meet the open air (page 57). Jack (the Id) obviously doesn t appreciate this area as it is the place where he later murders the mother pig. Piggy and Simon are great examples of Freud s theory of the Super Ego.
The third and final theory of Freud s division of the human mind is the Ego. The character from Lord of the Flies that best shows the Ego is Ralph. Ralph is by no means evil or cruel like Jack (the Id), but he does not logically think of what society allows or fully understand human emotions like Piggy or Simon (the Super Egos). He is a force that is caught between the two. The Ego is ruled by the reality principle and satisfies the urges of the Id in a reasonable manner or suppresses them. (Another quote from Stevenson, which helps describe the role of the Ego.) The reality principle is what is allowed by society and is actually possible. To satisfy an urge in a reasonable way is for instance when having the desire of meat, catching a fish or a crab instead of brutally murdering a mother pig. The more Super Ego side of the Ego can be seen when Ralph says, You pinched Piggy s specs. You ve got to give them back You played a dirty trick-we d have given you fire if you d asked for it You could have had fire whenever you wanted. But you didn t. You came sneaking up like a thief and stole Piggy s glasses (page 176)! Ralph understands that stealing is wrong and demands that Jack return Piggy s glasses so that he can see. Many could consider Ralph as a Super Ego, but he has his Id-like moments like all other Ego-driven people. This is seen not only when Ralph insults Piggy when he mentions his asthma by saying Sucks to your ass-mar (page 13), but also when he betrays Piggy s trust by telling the other children of the island, against his wishes, He s not Fatty, his real name s Piggy (page 21)! Piggy, after telling Ralph that Piggy was the nickname given to him by people back home, asked Ralph not to tell anybody else. Ralph telling others of the nickname was wrong and did not bring Piggy s feelings into consideration. The fact that Piggy deliberately tells Ralph that he doesn t want his nickname to be told, and Ralph betrays him by announcing it to the group of boys, just shows that Ralph didn t think about Piggy s feelings. The Ego is one of Freud s theories of the human mind that is caught between the crossfire of the Super Ego and the Id.
According to Sigmund Freud the human mind can be broken down into three parts, the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego . Characters from William Golding s novel Lord of the Flies can fit into this Freudian concept of the Id, Ego, and Super Ego. Jack embodies the Id with his violent urges to kill, Piggy and Simon embody the Super Ego with their logic and emotional understanding, and Ralph embodies the Ego, caught between the Id and the Super Ego, the bad and the good. By using characters that portray the Freud s concepts of the human mind, it shows how the book can relate to real life human beings. The society of the Island in Lord of the Flies was id-run and ended within a short period of time, while our society is Ego-run and has lasted thousands of years. According to this chart, there is no telling to what a super-ego- run society would actually be like, though no doubt better then the other two. All of this is very significant, and there is much still to be learned about the Freudian Concepts of the human mind and Golding s application of the concept of his novel s characters and the microcosm in which
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