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the tempest essay

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Freudian Theory suggests that every being is made up of three parts. Firstly, the id, our most primitive selves, contains our basic instinctual drives and acts to make ourselves happy. Secondly, the ego, which is based on the reality principle, is the mediator between the id and the super ego, and helps people determine what can realistically occur, taking into consideration the repercussions of every action. Finally, the super ego is an internalisation of authority, and is thought to originate from parental guidance as they are the first authority figure we are exposed to. Within a civilisation, this super ego restrains natural, Id desires and demands that we succumb to social pressures of what is right and wrong in society, and makse us feel guilty for even thinking about doing otherwise. The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, gives examples of all three of these parts of the human psyche. Through Caliban, Miranda and Prospero we can see examples of how the Super Ego restrains the basic instincts and drives, leading to unhappiness and malaise in civilisation.
Caliban demonstrates the natural expression of the Id, as he has not been surrounded by civilisation his entire life nor has he been highly exposed to authority, his super ego is not very strong. This means that his basic drives, life and death drives are still very evident in his actions. The life drive, according to Freud, is the natural desire to recreate. This drive is evident in Caliban when he tries to have sex with Miranda. Although Miranda and Prospero refer to it as a sexual assault, Caliban says it could have “peopled […]/This Isle with Calibans” (Act 1, Scene 2, 353-354). His natural instincts tell him that it is right to repopulate, and as Miranda is the only fema...

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...constant internal struggle between the Ego and the Super Ego. This is similar to Prospero and Miranda from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as they suppress aggression and sexual desires because of the social expectations imbedded in their super egos, leading them to feel unfulfilled instinctually and discontented by the suppression of civilisation. Beings who have not been exposed to civilisation and/or authority, such as Caliban, tend to be happier as they act to satisfy their primal urges, as there have not been civilizational restraints and standards implanted in their Super Ego, lessening the internal struggle between the ego and the super ego. This gives evidence to show that the main forces which bring a sense of malaise to civilisation are the Super Ego, Ego and Id, as the restraint of Id by the Super Ego leads to an unsatisfied feeling in these civilised people.
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