Death by Drive Chopin, Johnson, and Jackson – authors who utilize diverse psychological contexts – collectively apply the concept of the consequences of an unbalanced personality. In Kate Chopin’s short story, The Story of an Hour, Mrs.Mallard’s subconsciously desired life is awoken by the news of her husband’s passing. In Charles Johnson’s short story, Menagerie, a Child’s Fable, when Tilford suddenly goes missing, his Pet Shoppe and the lives of the pets inside are left in the hands of his watchdog Berkley.
In Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, Tessie Hutchinson tests the limits of a dark community tradition and suffers the colossal consequences. Each of these stories contains a character with an unbalanced personality which leads to their life erupting in chaos. According to Sigmund Freud, personality is broken into three separate parts, and a balance of these is essential to a healthy psyche and a functional life. These three elements of personality- known as the id, the ego, and the superego- interact in ways that have a powerful influence on each individual (Cherry).
Freud compares the id, ego, and superego to a concept called the horse and rider; the id is the wild horse, the ego is the directing rider, and the superego is the fence containing them. The id/horse, known as the pleasure principle, controls primal urges that desire immediate gratification. Similar to a child, the id/horse is wild and throws all reasoning to the wind. Thankfully, the superego/fence is present to give the id/horse boundaries.
Known as the moral ideal, the superego/fence provides guidelines for making judgments and attempts to perfect and civilize all behavior. Without it, the id/horse would take over the host’s reality and cause complete destruction of their personality. Finally, the ego/rider, or reality principle, is the happy medium that attempts to direct and satisfy both the id/horse and superego/fence. When a character’s personality is unbalanced, lacking a fence/superego, the horse/id is set free, and their behavior is driven by their innermost personal desires; This imbalance results in insanity, persona, and finally, the egos fall from the unbridled id. The character in The Story of an Hour with a fence insufficiency is the societally suppressed Mrs. Mallard. Contained by society’s standards, the twenty-year-old woman is commonly beat down by her daily life. Into this [chair] she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul (Chopin). The strength of her inner desire to be independent is so vast that the consequential battle with her societal superego causes her complete devastation. The patriarchy laughs at Mrs. Mallard’s hatred toward her role in society and keep her confined to the social norm; a woman needs to be cared for by a man. So when she is met with the news of her husband Brently’s death, Mrs. Mallard is left paralyzed, stripped of the societal pressure. All at once she runs to her room to be alone and allow the revelation to wash over her:She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will–as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.(Chopin)As her former societally-standardized self dies, her horse begins to take her whole reality over. She attempts to fight the personality possession, but without a fence or a living rider, there is no hope. The true essence of freedom fills the awoken persona, Louise Mallard, something her past self had not felt since she said: I do. Now she is able to live solely for herself, no consideration for the male based constitutions she no longer needs to abide by. But as Louise run free, so does her horse. As the air of assumed victory comes in from her bedroom window she relishes in her newfound faux-independence. Finally exiting her room of false reality, Louise takes her sister Josephine in her arm to begin her journey as her new persona.There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sisters waist, and together they descended the stairs…Someone was opening the door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack umbrella…He stood amazed at Josephine’s piercing cry. (Chopin)Louise’s perceived reality ends just as suddenly as it begun. Mrs. Mallard dies in her the armchair directly after her fence of marriage standards is removed with her husband’s alleged death. Shortly after, her desired persona, Louise, arises and takes control of her reality. She basks in the air of the falsely renewed outside world coming through the window of her perceived reality while she still has the chance. But once Brently Mallard comes home, Louise’s false reality dies along with her persona created within it. From the moment Mrs.Mallard passes, and her id completely possesses her personality, Louise is doomed to fall from her dissatisfaction driven horse.The character in Menagerie, a Child’s Fable with a superego scarcity is the watchdog of Tilford’s Pet Shoppe, Berkeley. Berkeley, a German shepherd, admires his owner and yearns for his acknowledgment. Berkeley does all things as Tilford says, and follows him as his superego completely. So when Tilford does not appear at the Shoppe as he usually does, Berkeley is in complete distress. The other animals in the Shoppe taunt him with the conclusion that he is dead, but Berkeley’s id refuses to believe his superego idol is gone. Instead, he decides that in his absence he will care for the Shoppe and prove his worth of Tilfords love upon his return. With this decision, his horse’s race begins. After several days, Berkeley, who is the only animal not confined to a cage, reluctantly frees the other animals in the Shoppe so they can access the food supply. As Berkeley worried, madness ensues upon their release. The animals compete for the food, threaten one another with violence, and even prey upon each other. Berkeley’s horse knows it has to inform the Pet Shoppe of his dominance, just as Tilford; so when the most defiant of the creatures, Monkey, tests his authority, Berkeley lets his id loose:Deep inside, Berkeley began a rumbling bark, let it build slowly, and by the time it hit the air it was a full-throated growl so frightening that Monkey jumped four, maybe five feet into the air. (Johnson)His bark building from within demonstrates the primal energy he harnesses to embody Tilford and protect the animals as he would have. Berkeley’s wild id desperately tries to keep up with his new persona, but as time goes on the Shoppe only gets worse. He attempts to be strong and assertive like his beloved superego, but discovers that constantly dealing with chaos results in complete exhaustion, and soon enough he cannot keep his eyes open for a second more. As Berkeley finally drifts off, he has a dream that Tilford has returned to the Shoppe and praises him for being a hero and keeping the peace:Splendidly dressed, wearing a bowler hat and carrying a walking stick, sober, with a gentle smile for Berkeley (Berkeley was sure), Tilford threw open the Pet Shoppe door in a blast of wind and burst of preternatural brilliance that rayed the whole room, evaporated every shadow, and brought the squabbling, the conflict of interpretations, mutations, and internecine battles to a halt… Reaching down, he stroked Berkeley’s head. And at last he said, like God whispering to Samuel, Well done, It was all Berkeley had ever wanted. (Johnson)Berkeley’s dream exhibits his true view of Tilford as a divine father figure that could save him from anything. His approval in the dream is all Berkley has ever wanted, making his dedication towards keeping the Pet Shoppe safely running understood. The requirement of Tilfords love fuels his horse’s ride and maintains his heroic persona. When Berkeley wakes up, Monkey has put his unsupervised time to use. Screams from the animals ring through Berkley’s ears; Monkey is holding a gun. The time for Berkley’s final display of heroism has come. His horse leaps to the rescue with thoughts of Tilfords words, well done, racing through his mind. But without his fence’s rationality, the knowledge of his strength compared to that of a bullet is absent from his judgment. As Berkeley lays on the floor, fallen from his horse, fire spreads throughout the building, sealing the fate of Tilford’s Pet Shoppe, and the animals inside. Berkeley’s desire for his absent superego’s approval creates a duteous drive that releases his id, and makes an unfulfillable heroic persona which sets his fallen fate in stone. The character in The Lottery containing a fence deficit is the seditious housewife, Tessie Hutchinson. As the inhabitants of her small town gather together, the tension of their yearly sacrificial tradition builds in the summer air. Children gather rocks for ammo, and the adults let go of their morality; all adults besides Tessie Hutchinson. This specific town and their annual lottery function to support male privilege and fear within the residents: It is reenacted year after year, not because it is a mere tradition, but because it serves the repressive ideological function of purging the social body of all resistance so that business (capitalism) can go on as usual, and the Summers, the Graves and the Martins can remain in power. (Kosenko)The three leading men in the town – Mr. Graves, Mr. Summers, and Mr. Martins – provide each person in the community with a job, and use the fear of their application of the lottery to enforce the village’s compliance and work ethic. A male based society leaves the women disenfranchised and completely removed from all business of the town, but Tessie will not accept this: Tessie after all, is a woman whose role as a housewife deprives her radically of her freedom by forcing her to submit to a husband who gains his power over her by virtue of his place in the workforce. Tessie, however, rebels against her role, and such rebellion is just what the orderly functioning of her society cannot stand. (Kosenko)On the day of this yearly sacrifice, Tessie Hutchinson has finally had enough. Fulfilling her enforced wifely duties, she allows herself to lose track of time and her superego. As she washes the dishes, she washes away her fence: her compliance with the patriarchy, and her acceptance of the lottery. When Tessie arrives late to the town square, the lottery and her horse’s course commence. Her tardiness reveales the first sign of her newfound independence. With the town’s function based on the people’s obedience, Tessie’s blatant rebellion is unheard of. Mrs. Hutchinson said, grinning, Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now would you, Joe?,’ and soft laughter ran through the crowd… (Jackson). Her id’s sly explanation of her lateness to Mr. Summers explicates her uncovered distaste towards the male based hierarchy and the job she is forced to fulfill. Such a blatant rejection of the towns authority will not go unpunished. After everyone draws their slips of paper, Tessie’s horse speaks up yet again. Her primal nature demands that her children, Don and Eva, draw their own cards to control their own fates. Mr. Summers response exhibits his patience with Tessie has run out. Mr.Summers surprisingly allows the redo, but only after reminding her of a woman’s place in their society saying, Daughters draw for their husbands’ families, Tessie (Jackson). What Tessie does not realize is that with this redraw she is allowing Mr. Summers to control her ultimate fate. Mr. Summers calls her up to the card box, where she snatches up her slip with a defiant air and returns to the crowd. Each town members redraws a slip of paper from the box Mr. Martin helps hold, one by one sealing their fates. Mr. Summers asks Tessie’s husband to display her paper to the crowd once they have been opened, proving, after all, that male superiority will always reign supreme in their town. On her slip is a dot, black as coal, that marks Tessie’s unleashed id’s abrupt halt, and her liberated persona’s inevitable end. Her community members gather their rocks and begin to close in on their mutinous victim. Tessie’s final cry as she falls from her horse, illuminates her unending resistance to her towns customs, It isn’t fair It isn’t fair, it isn’t right (Jackson). Tessie Hutchinson’s washed away superego, sets her horse free, and starts a sequence of dissatisfaction driven defiances that lead to her sacrificial fall from her unruly horse.The presence of a superego is integral to operative mental health and the sufficient function of a personality. In its absence, the id’s most primal subconscious desires are left unfiltered and immediately enacted with no comprehension of their irrationality. Once the unbridled horse overpowers the rider and manifests the minds complete reality principle, there is no recapturing the id. When the persona becomes the true self, and the perceived reality becomes the persons truth, there is only one way out: the fatal fall from the horse. When the horse runs wild it releases a drive within the id that contrasts the normal desire for the personality’s primal needs called the death drive:The unconscious is also the place where our instinctual biological drives reside. The drives govern our behaviour, directing us toward choices that promise to satisfy our basic needs..But Freud claims the unconscious also holds a contrasting drive, the death drive, which is present from birth. This drive is self destructive and impels us forward, though as we do so we are moving closer to our deaths. (Freud)Without a healthy balance in personality, all aspects of the id become uncontrollable, including the death drive. A racing, unfenced horse accelerates this drive just as it accelerates the desire gratification process and impulsivity. The acceleration of the death drive results in the inevitable experience of fatality. The ultimate consequence of the loss of superego is illustrated within each character, demonstrating the importance of the balance of the personality. Mrs.Mallard’s desire for a new life drives her to prematurely kill her old reality and live through her persona, Louise, until the realization of its, and her, nonexistence. Berkeley’s dutiful drive to gain approval creates a persona with an impossibility of strength causing irrational, deathly choices. Tessie’s dissatisfaction of socio-economic stratification drives her to defy authority against all reason and prompt her own victimization. Each character sets their id free when they lose their fence, and begin a wild journey on horseback administering their death drive and sealing their fatal
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