In Lord of the Flies William Golding uses allegories to illustrate the human psyche. Different characters are used to represent different parts of an individual’s mental structure: the impulses of the Id, the rationality of the Ego, and the moral understanding of the Superego. Golding carefully describes each character’s actions to coincide with each part of the psyche. Jack, Piggy, Simon, and Ralph are characters in the story that represent the psyche.
According to Sigmun Freud, the Id is the impulsive part of the psyche. Evidence of this is the killing of the sow. To elaborate, the killing of the sow has been deemed a “symbolic rape,” symbolizing man’s sexual desire. The manner that the boys go about in killing the pigs is based on sexual desire and violence; all parts of the Id. An example of this is the boys chant they recite after the hunt, as well as the lust they receive when chasing the sow. The pig’s head also represents the Id in the boys. The pig’s head becomes evidence of their atrocities brought on by impulsive and animalistic behavior. The boys wanted satisfaction, ultimately achieving it through the brutal murder of the sow.
Furthermore, Golding’s Jack has been interpreted to personify the Id. An exemplar is his thirst for blood which gives him gratification. He takes great pride in hunting and killing pigs, eventually smearing the pig’s blood on his face. This is violent and primal, not very productive for the group and is meant as a source of satisfaction. Hunting should be pointless, the boys are on an island surrounded by fruit. Golding states, “…gorging fruit in the forest.”(pg.25). Jack is too busy wanting to hunt that he forgets about being rescued. One instance being early in the novel when a boat appears on the horizon; Jack allows the fire to burn out while hunting; eliminating aspirations of rescue.
Moreover, as Jack embodies the Id; Ralph represents the ego. Ralph epitomizes the reasoning among the group. Sine Ralph is the leader, it becomes his responsibility to keep order. The ego makes rational choices while satisfying the Id. For instance, Ralph’s main task is to keep the order and control Jack and his impulses. Ralph delegates jobs: Jack and the choir become hunters and the rest will build the huts. For example, Ralph comes up with the idea the idea that who ever holds the conch gets to talk. Also, Ralph is the one who comes up with the idea to get the boys names. Golding writes,”…If a ship comes near the island…We must make a fire.”(pg.35). This quote shows Ralph’s rational thinking on how to get rescued. Ralph thinks of the sensible thing to do for instance, Golding states “What was the sensible thing to do?”(pg.196). Due to Ralph’s rational thinking, he has been interpreted to manifest the ego.
Furthermore, readers have drawn conclusions that Piggy represents the super ego, Piggy acts like the conscience for the group; for example, Golding inscribes “What’s grown-ups goin’ to think? Young Simon was murdered.”(pg.157). This quote communicates how Piggy attempts to guilt the boys for the terrible crime they committed. Piggy comprehends moral values and tries to guilt Ralph for participating in the murder of Simon. Throughout the story Piggy constantly reminds Jack and Ralph about the priorities. He nags them incessantly about the fire, as well as; the importance of the conch and assemblies, the proper way to do a task, and how to act properly. Golding writes, “There was no Piggy to talk sense.”(pg.196). This quote justifies how Piggy acts like the boys conscience.
In addition to Piggy, Simon has also been interpreted to represent the super ego based on his actions throughout the novel. For example, when the little kids wanted the fruit Simon got it down for them. Another example is when Simon attempts to warn the others that the beast is them. Golding states, “‘You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you?”(pg.136). Moreover, Simon’s moral values become evident when he gives meat to Piggy. Golding exclaims, “…Shoved the piece of meat over the rocks to Piggy.” Simons moral values on how to treat others, based on his actions in the novel clarifies how readers could draw conclusions that he embodies the super ego.
Subsequently, interpretations on the novel have revealed Piggy’s death to represent the Id’s complete take over of the island. Golding exclaims, “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow …the body of Piggy was gone.”(pg.180). Without Piggy, there is no moral reasoning to help make the right choices. After Piggy dies, Jack attempts to kill Ralph to eradicate rational thinking. This is an example of the Id’s superiority and strength over the ego, without the presence of the super ego. Without the super ego deciding the right from the wrong, the Id will take over. In the novel, had the naval officer not intervene, Jack would have completed the Id’s takeover of the egos by killing Ralph.
As a final point, Golding uses Freud’s philosophies regarding the psyche to show human nature in Lord of the Flies. Ralph, Jack and Piggy represent the different parts of the psyche and what happens when one falls. Jack represents the Id with his impulses to kill. Piggy represents the super ego through his moral understanding, while Ralph symbolizes the ego, caught between the Id and super ego. Golding illustrates in “Lord of the Flies” that the Id is most powerful and comes out when a man is subjected to a primitive mindset. The further into this mindset, the stronger the Id becomes resulting in a loss of the ego and super ego.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: The Berkley
Publishing Group, 1954.
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