The Matrix Essay

The Matrix Essay

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The Matrix Interweaves much symbolism, mythology, philosophy, and psychology. On the surface, the movie challenges the dominance of technology in our culture and predicts an apocalyptic result from the use of artificial intelligence. Yet, behind the human struggle for survival is a mythical backdrop upon which are backlit some of C.G. Jung's basic ideas regarding the human psyche. These Jungian ideas include the ego-Self relationship and how it relates to the persona, the shadow, individuation, and the transcendent function.
The earth has been decimated due to a battle for control of the earth between the AI's and humans; the Matrix camouflages this decimation. Humans are artificially created and sustained by the AI superstructure. Then they are plugged into a computer. A computer program generates a simulated reality called the Matrix. Humans live their lives in this computer-generated reality, but this reality is only in their minds. In fact, humans are kept in mechanical eggs filled with an amniotic-like fluid. The AI infrastructure keeps humans alive to tap the energy they produce.

The strangers are a group of humans who have escaped the Matrix. Their leader is named Morpheus. Neo is believed by Morpheus to be the savior, “The One” (The Matrix). An oracle (also an escaped human) predicted long ago that a savior would come, a sort of second coming, and that he would be able to see through the Matrix and bring it down. The oracle told Morpheus that he would find The One. One question, which threads through the movie, is whether or not Neo is The One.

Neo is asleep at his desk at home in one of the first scenes. A computer monitor next to him flashes repeatedly the simple text: “Wake up Neo” (The Matrix). The message is an instruction from the Self. The sleeping man is in ego mode, a symptom of an egocentric psyche. He is unaware of the possibility that there is something else besides the ego and he has not yet awoken to the possibility that there is another world outside of the persona he lives behind.

The theme of Neo as a Jesus Christ figure plays throughout the movie. In Edinger's opinion, Christ was a figure who represented the individuating ego. The image of Christ, and the rich network of symbolism which has gathered around him, provide many parallels to the individuation process. When the Christian myth is examined carefully in the li...


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...w people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from here is a choice I leave to you (The Matrix).

Neo has become an individuated ego. He negotiated a series of challenging psychic experiences to grow out of his former egocentric attitude. His statement speaks of an awareness of the ego as well as a sense of Self. He even refers to the ego field as scared and seems to be compassionate of the ego's fear. But he wants to live without the rules and control of the ego.

Works Cited

Chernow, Barbara and Vallasi, George, eds. The Columbia Encyclopedia. 5th Ed. Columbia UP, 1993.

Edinger, Edward F. Ego and Archetype. Boston: Shambhala, 1992.

Jacobi, Jolande. Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jung. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP, 1974.

Jung, C.G. The Essential Jung. Ed. A. Storr. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP, 1983.

---. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. New York: Vintage, 1961.

The Matrix. Dir. Larry and Andy Wachowski. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne. Warner Brothers, 1999.

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