Freudian Division Of Mind Applied To Characters Of Lord Of The Flies

Freudian Division Of Mind Applied To Characters Of Lord Of The Flies

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“Freud described the Ego as being like a rider on a horse (the Id), trying to hold the horse in check. It mediates between the Id and the outside world, in the sense of being aware both of the Id's energies and of what the outside world will allow. The Super Ego is a sort of conscience, the place where injunctions to behave properly, learned or inherited from people like parents, teachers and priests, reside. Freud says the person is the focal point of a struggle between our desires (Id), what is realistic (Ego), and the views of others (Super Ego).” David B. Stevenson of Brown University is responsible for this quote that gives a simplistic idea of the Freudian Division of the Human Mind. The description is fairly self-explanatory, but a better understanding of the three concepts can be made by thinking of Satan as the Id, Jesus as the Super Ego, and humans as the ego, caught between the two forces. In William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, these Freudian concepts can be applied to the characters of Jack, Piggy, Simon, and Ralph. Jack fits into the concept of the Id overpowering 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 empathetic 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. An in-depth analysis of how each character exemplifies each Freudian division is well deserved.

To begin with, the Id is what provides the most primal urges and instinctual drives that want to fulfill desires, even if those desires are not allowed or are looked down upon by society. Jack well embodies the Id, as his main goal on the island is to “Kill the pig! Cut her throat! Bash her in” (page 75)! This is obviously very violent and primal, not too useful, and is meant as a source of joy or pleasure.

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It is bad enough to have the desire to kill things, but it is entirely another to actually do it. Not for the first time, Jack does so to a mother sow, “her belly was 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, as there is plenty of fruit to survive on and fish is caught periodically as well, and even if the death of a pig was necessary, it doesn’t have to be killed in such a violent manner as this. The Id does not solely have to do with violence and killing, however, it encompasses all drives that demand immediate gratification, despite the consequences. “You go away, Ralph. You keep to your end. This is my end and my tribe. You leave me alone” (page 176). Jack says this after he has recently broken away from Ralph and formed a tribe of his own. This statement by Jack is by no means violent or very threatening, but it does show the Id being the most powerful Freudian division 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 Freudian Division of the Human Mind is the Super Ego. This is “the [Division] which reasons, masters impulses and generally controls the environment around it. It helps us come to terms with reality, with the world as it is.” Another quote from David B. Stevenson, it well summarizes the Freudian concept of the Super Ego. In Lord of the Flies, the two characters that best support this concept are Piggy and Simon. Though two very different characters, they both have the same basic principles. Piggy, to begin with, is considered to be logical and intelligent; he thinks things through. “…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 logically is a characteristic of the 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 comprehend emotions and understand the way people feel. He does something about people who are treated poorly and sees the true or good side of things. After the first pig is killed and cooked by Jack, he distributes meat to everybody except Piggy, whom he dislikes. Being the kind person he is, Simon “shoved his piece of meat over the rocks to Piggy, who grabbed it” (page 74). He is laughed at and looked down upon for this, but it was the right thing to do. Simon sees the good of the island physically, as 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 well-exemplify the Freudian concept of the Super Ego.

The third and final Freudian Division of the Human Mind is the Ego. The character from Lord of the Flies that best embodies the concept of the Ego is Ralph. Ralph is by no means evil or cruel like Jack (the Id), but he does not think logically in a manner considering 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 David B. Stevenson, it describes the role of the Ego. The “reality principle” simply means an understanding of what is allowed by society and is realistically possible. To satisfy an urge in a reasonable manner is to, for instance, in 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, two very righteous things indeed. One could consider Ralph 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 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 Ego is the Freudian Division of the Human Mind that is caught between the crossfire of the Super Ego and the Id.

Aside from using characters to personify the Freudian Concept of the Human Mind, William Golding attempted to say things about the human psyche through events in the novel Lord of the Flies. Throughout the novel, it is shown that the Id is constantly trying to overpower the Ego and the Super Ego. After Simon stumbled out of the forest, “The sticks fell and the mouth of the new circle crunched and screamed. The beast was on its knees in the center, its arms folded over its face. It was crying out against the abominable noise something about a body on the hill. The beast struggled forward, broke the ring and fell over the steep edge of the rock to the sand by the water. At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (page 153). The “beast” was obviously Simon (the Super Ego) and the crowd of boys who murdered him were at the time attending a gathering headed by Jack (the Id). The Id had overpowered the Super Ego. Another incident similar to this was when Roger (working for Jack) killed Piggy by rolling a boulder down the side of the rock they were perched atop. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee…[he] traveled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went…Piggy fell forty feet and landed on the square red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed” (page 181). Again the Id (Jack) has defeated the Super Ego (Piggy). “They’re going to hunt you tomorrow” (page 188). These are the words of Sam and Eric, informing Ralph of Jack’s plans with him. The next day Jack and his tribe actually fulfilled that goal, armed with spears, an island set completely on fire, and a stick sharpened at both ends. If a naval cruiser had not arrived to rescue the castaways, Jack (the Id) would have killed Ralph (the Ego), completing the Id‘s destruction of the other two Freudian Divisions of the Human Mind, the Ego and the Super Ego. By having the Id being the supreme ruler of the island in Lord of the Flies, Golding was trying to say that humans are truly evil people and without any parental or higher influence they will destroy themselves by destroying the Ego and the Super Ego, leaving only the primal mindset of the Id.

In conclusion, the human mind can be broken into three parts, the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego (this idea is the Freudian Concept of the Human Mind). The Id is the “pot” of primal desires, the Ego is the “tamer” of the Id, but keeps the Super Ego in consideration, and the Super Ego is the “list” of values, what is acceptable by society, and what has been learned by parental figures. 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. In our society, the majority of people are dominated by their Ego; they understand what is right and wrong, but fail to completely understand emotions. This statement can be proven as easily as tuning a television set to CNN. On the news, one will see the extreme best of people (the Super Ego) in bits on Mother Teresa or organ donors, or the extreme worst (the Id) in bits on international terrorism or gang wars. One will rarely see bits on everyday people as they are run by their Egos and are quite common. People who are Ego-based hardly ever do anything extreme or severe, so are not worth reporting on national news. The society of the island in the Lord of the Flies was Id-run and ended in a short period of time, while ours is Ego-run and has lasted thousands and thousands of years, so according to this chart, there’s no telling what a Super Ego-run society would be like, though no doubt much better than the other two. There is much to be learned from the now-debunked Freudian Concept of the Human Mind and Golding’s application of the concept to his novel’s characters and the microcosm in which they reside.
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