Analyzing Richard’s and Arcite’s Ids, Egos, and Superegos

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Sigmund Freud identifies three aspects of the psyche - the id, ego, and superego – which influence every individual’s daily life. The id tells a person to eat, drink, sleep, and procreate in order to survive while the ego wears masks to interact with society. Lastly, the superego, also known as the conscience, informs a person’s morality. In Richard III, William Shakespeare presents secular characters who do not pay attention to religious or spiritual matters. Richard, the main character and Lord Protector of the future king, and Arcite, a knight, from The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, use the three parts of their psyches in similar ways. Richard and Arcite each use their ids in negative manners when dealing with women. They each do not make use of their egos when in difficult situations. Lastly, both Richard and Arcite do not listen to their superegos when continuously given clues to do so. By analyzing Richard’s and Arcite’s ids, egos, and superegos, a reader learns that too much worldliness without some thought and spirituality lead to a person’s downfall. Shakespeare portrays Richard as a man with overpowering physical desires; although his role as a soldier and a man demands physicality, he has too much desire. Yearning for his brother, King Edward’s, death and plotting against his other brother, Clarence, Richard thinks that once both of them lay on their deathbeds, he can easily obtain the throne of England. Richard marries Lady Anne, a daughter of a noble, to have connections to settle a feud between the families. He wants to ask for her hand in marriage and tells himself, “The which will I, not all so much for love as for another secret close intent by marrying her which I must reach unto” (9). Richard foll... ... middle of paper ... ...eregos to do their jobs, to reach perfection, and to reach any level of morality. Due to the fact that they both ignore their consciences, a part of the mind that requires focus away from materialism, they both die. Because of exclusively concentrating on their external environments, Richard and Arcite experience downfalls. Mainly paying attention to the id of their psyches, Richard and Arcite both see women as corporeal objects. Almost completely discounting their egos during complicated conditions, but still not turning towards spirituality, Richard and Arcite both act as cowardly and fragile men. Additionally, Richard and Arcite make no use of their superegos when moral clarities come before them. When not having a balance of the id, ego, and superego, and not allowing them to fulfill their purposes in the proper ways, people bring about their own defeats.

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