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The way a person behaves can be analyzed by psychoanalysis showing that there is a structural model of personality; this model was created by Freud. There are three parts of personality: Id which contains primitive instincts, Superego which contains the conscience and Ego which maintains a balance. The Id is based on the principle of self pleasure and has no regard for the consequence their actions may have on others. The Superego is very moral and in control of what is right and what is wrong.
The Ego is based on the principle of reality and is able to have needs and desires but also considers others in their decisions. In the novel, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, these parts of the personality are represented by the three main characters and it shows that the contrast in their personalities and the lack of an authoritative ego leads to the breakdown of civilization.
Jack, Ralph, and Piggy all represent this Freudian model and it is the conflict between these behaviors that causes the breakdown.
The part of the personality known as the Id is represented primarily by Jack. This part of the personality allows for the basic needs of a person to be met but all actions are very primitive and are not morally correct. Jack is focused on instant gratification and does not seem to be very concerned about long term survival or being rescued. Superego, another part of the personality, is represented by Piggy. This part represents the conscience and the moral part of all human beings.
Piggy is usually able to remind some of the boys what is right and what is wrong. The final part of the personality is known as the Ego and is considered to be the balance between the other two boys. Ralph is the representation of the Ego in this novel. This part of the personality understands that being impulsive can inevitably be harmful. Ralph sees the reality of the situation that they are in but is also able to think on a realistic level to try and meet the needs of the boys. Since he is the Ego, he is able to gain control over the boys and he makes his stance known when he says “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages” (Golding 46). Like the Ego, Ralph thinks realistically and wants everyone to think before they act so no rash actions occur and their
chance of surviving and being rescued is higher.
Ralph gains control of the boys on the island in the beginning of the novel, because of this he is made responsible for dealing with their survival and well being. One of the main things that he cares about for their survival is the building of shelters and he makes this clear when he says “If it rains like when we dropped in we’ll need shelters all right” (52). Ralph would like to swim and hunt but he knows that building a shelter would be more beneficial to their survival. He also says that the fire is the most important thing on the island (80) and doesn’t believe that they can be rescued by luck if they do not keep the fire going . The fire is also a symbol of how the boys were still civilized. As the fire starts to go out, the boys become less civilized and start to become more primitive, like the Id personality type. Ralph begins to lose his power as he and all the other boys start to become more irrational. Even though Ralph is the representation of the Ego, he allowed the Id personality to take over him, “The desire to squeeze and hurt was over-mastering” (116), when he attacked Simon.
When Ralph begins to lose his control, Jack becomes the leader of they boys. With the Id being in control, there is no authoritative ego and the civilization on the island begins to break down. Jack is only concerned about power and instant gratification; he doesn’t feel anything for other people and feels only a need to hunt and nothing else. He causes constant disorder on the island by tempting the rest of the boys with the lure of meat and hunting while throwing survival and the chance of being rescued aside. His desire for power is overwhelming and he has no accord for Ralph’s authority. When Piggy is killed, Jack says to Ralph “That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone-” (181). He feels nothing when Piggy is he killed and would do anything for the power he obtains. Once the conch is destroyed and the boys begin to become uncivilized, the Id becomes the prominent personality type.
Piggy tries to stand up for the rules that he was taught to believe in and to the Id as the Superego. Piggy sees the conch as order on the island and believes it should be respected, he shows this when he says “I got the conch…You let me speak” (42). When the boys let the fire go out of control, he makes an effort to tell everyone that they were wrong for letting that happen and that they also let one of the little’ uns get away. He constantly challenges the Id and tries to stand up for what he believes to be right. The balance between his ideas and Jack’s also helped to keep the island stable but when Piggy was killed, the Id becomes dominant and the boys begin to lose control.
With Ralph being the balance between Jack and Piggy, he is identified as the leader when the boys first arrive on the island but as time passes the boys begin to become more uncivilized. The lack of a real authoritative figure or an adult figure causes the boys to lean more towards the Id. When this happens, the boys begin to follow Jack because he offers instant gratification in the form of hunting and meat. Jack seems to be able to do anything for his power. Jack’s resistance to morals and control lead to Piggy’s death and the destruction of the conch. When Piggy dies, there no longer is a Superego on the island and the balance between them is broken. Ralph is not dominant enough as an Ego to keep the island civilized. This allows Jack and the Id to take control of the boys and the island, and this causes the breakdown of civilization.
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