When young boys are abandoned on an uninhabited island without adults, even they are capable of murder. This is the scenario depicted in the British author, William Goldings novel, Lord of the Flies, written and published in 1954 during World War 2. Comparing the characters of Jack, Ralph, Piggy and Simon with Freud’s theory of id, ego and superego, one can prove that man has an underlying evil nature. The characters are represented with Jack as id, Ralph as ego, and Piggy and Simon as superego.
Freud’s theory of id, ego and superego influences the spheres of ones being. The id represents violence, and the drive to kill. The id is the desire to hurt others, and to dominate. In contrast the ego persuades one to make actions that make one’s actions acceptable by others around them. It also controls the need for acceptance and the need to be in control. Though different, the superego lies within one’s spirituality and need for order. It values rules, and commandments.
Jack as id, represents the carnal drives in man. He illustrates this through painting his face. By painting his face, Jack suppresses his ego and superego, causing Jack to be capable of acts of violence without having any repercussions. Jack portrays this violence in different ways. First, Jack enjoys hunting because he gets to kill pigs. Often, in Lord of the Flies, Jack is consumed by killing pigs, and desires nothing more. The drive to kill rules his thoughts. In Jacks statement ”We’re strong-we hunt! If there’s a beast we’ll hunt it down. We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat-”(83), he demonstrates his carnal desire to hint and kill. Next, Jack also strove to control others.
He would even resort to torture, ”What d’ you mean by it, eh?’ said the chief (Jack) forcefully ‘What d’ you mean coming with spears? What d’ you mean by not joining my tribe?’ The prodding became rhythmic. Sam yelled.'(166). The desire to kill is what proves that Jack has an evil nature, and the fact that he came from a civilized society shows that anyone can become like him.
Ralph displayed himself as being ego through his need for acceptance and his leadership. Ralph’s need for acceptance is so strong that he would even go as far as to insult an other so all the boys would like him, and see him as fitting in. An example of this is when Ralph said ”He’s not Fatty,’ cried Ralph ‘his real name’s Piggy!”(20) when he had promised Piggy earlier that he would tell no one else his name is Piggy. Ralph’s desire to be one among the crowd made him stoop so low as to insult and hurt another, just so he could look better.
When Ralph begins to fall away from the group, he begins to lose all his leadership. Often times Ralph would forget all the important things he would need to remember to become chief, and start to digress to savagery, just so he could be with the group. With Ralph’s need for acceptance and loss in leadership power, it is apparent that even he was naturally evil.
Piggy and Simon were the representations of superego. Piggy’s need for rules and Simon’s mysticism both suggested that superego was the largest influencing force in their lives. Piggy would often try to set up rules, and other tools of civilization to create order. Without that order, Piggy knew that there would be no hope in there situation. He proved this need for rules with his need to take names, ‘Piggy moved among the crowd, asking names and frowning to remember them.'(17). Different from Piggy, Simon had a strange quality of mysticism about him. He had an understanding about the nature of the beast that no one else had.
He illustrated this understanding when he had this vision, ”Fancy thinking the Beast was something that you could hunt and kill!’ said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. ‘You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”(130). With Piggy’s need for rules and Simon’s understanding of the nature of the Beast it is apparent that they both had the capabilities of the same savagery as the other boys.
Through Freud’s theory of id, ego, and superego, it is apparent that man does have an underlying evil nature in the novel Lord of the Flies. Jack, Ralph, Piggy, and Simon each display these aspects of man’s evil nature, and also prove that if it can happen to them that it can happen to anyone. Young children are typically thought of as more pure and innocent that those more experienced in the world. If they are capable of such acts, it is sad to think what the rest of the world is capable of.
Courtney from Study Moose
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