This type of criticism analyses the personalities of various characters in the story. It follows many of the ideas first developed by psychologist Sigmund Freud in the nineteenth century. Psychoanalytic criticism interprets the text in terms of the characters’ thoughts and interpretations on various issues in the novel. When a reader utilizes this type of criticism, they seek to go past the literal events in the story and analyse why certain incidents occurred throughout the novel.
According to Sigmund Freud, the three main personalities that a person has are: the id, superego and ego.
Id—an individual’s id is their desire for necessities. This is an irrational part of our mind that always tries to fulfill our wants instinctively.
Superego—this refers to an individual’s conscience. This part of an individual is responsible for the moral principles that one exhibits. This personality is the exact opposite of id; it attempts to make decisions rationally and carefully.
Ego—this is the most important personality that a person has. It is responsible for finding a balance between an individual’s superego and their id. This is a logical part of the mind that is driven by the reality principle. If a person’s ego is in check, they can make beneficial decisions in their lives.
Freud believes that that all humans have these three personalities within them. However, all of us portray each of them in vaying quantities. For example, a person may exhibit their id more than their superego. The decisions of this person will be highly irrational and based mainly on their desires.
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How does the relationship between Okonkwo and Unoka demonstrate the characteristics of the Oedipus complex?
How has the relationship between Oedipus and his father affected the relationship between Oedipus and his son, Nwoye?
How does an imbalance of Okonkwo’s id and superego contribute to how he deals with the “white men” in the story?
Anonymous. (2004). “An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Criticism.”
ReadWriteThink. NCTE/IRA, 6 May 2012.
This article argues that there are three different parts that form an individual’s personality: the id, the ego and the superego. The author agrees with Freud’s views on human personalities and describes how they can impact the overall plot of a literary work. The article explains that a person’s id shows their impulse to get basic necessities. In contrast, the superego is our conscience and controls the moral aspects of our daily lives. The author indicates that the most important part of our qualities is our ego because it determines the balance that we have between our superego and our id. The author acknowledges that all humans contain varying degrees of each of the three personalities; and this is what leads us to act the way we do.