Social Ideas in "Beloved" by Toni Morrison

Throughout the book of “Beloved ” is the past repeatedly brought up physically and mentally through the images described in the book leading to how the life she lives at sweet home is too real to leave. The psychological approach uses the theories of Freud exploring the motivations of characters and the symbolic meanings of the events regarding that character, and the Freudian view of the id, ego, and superego. The Id symbolising instincts primitive or other components of personality gained at birth which is the impulsive part of our human psyche responding directly and immediately , Ego symbolising reality part of the id that has been modified due to the influence the outside world has the ego works as a way as so to please the id’s demands the ego considers realities and norms to rule how to behave in situations, and Superego symbolising the morality of a person incorporating the values and morals learned from the past of society the superego’s job is to control the id’s urges mostly the one people refuse to allow its rare function is also trying to reason with ego to do moralistic things rather than realistic ones.

In Morrison's book “Beloved”she uses the psychological approach to explore the idea that human psyche controls the actions of the human when trying to protect the ones we love or cherish and if failed to fail we focus on the failures and let it bring our life down and haunt us.

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Why did morrison decide to make such a twisted and deranged character the main focus of the novel? Beloved begins with a series of events or violent actions against the residents of 124 alike a tantrum being thrown by a baby when something is done to them.

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'another kettleful of chickpeas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line next to the doorsill' based on the psychosexual phases, (Phase 1) the mothers breastfeeding if to late will leads to the child’s early development of being easily deceived or cheated by things in life (being gullible) and if too early it leads to the child being manipulative and or overeating over the years in the case of beloved she falls under the early case where the fixation of objects grow on early; (Phase 2) The idea of being scolded as a child as some see this is a way to teach the child rights and wrongs to do in society with the case of Beloved she was scolded to little she didn't learn what was wrong or right in society which lead to self obsessive or being to generous or lenient with people. (Phase 3)

This is where the curiosity of sexual orientation comes in where people are curious about the private parts of others in the world this is when the complex comes in the oedipus complex where Beloved is fixated on sexual relations with her parent of the opposite sex and this must be repressed or else her fixation will become intense and problems will arise. Why did morrison decide to make such a twisted and deranged character the main focus of the novel? Although people might think beloved is such a twisted character on the book she is the force carrying the change with her she is a damaged person and individual that is a healing force showing the extent of which historically slavery hurt these people and with the psychological approach i took we are able to see the objective beloved wanted to chase helping us understand her behavior and vulnerability of her as character showing that she able to represent the big idea of psychological damage caused to individuals. The tragic story of madea about how she killed her children to “save” them from the clutches of jason and his new wife using giving reason as to why it was appropriate to carry it out.

Similar to Beloved Sethe killed her child beloved to save her from a fate worse than death in this case unlikes medeas reasoning its to save her from slave catchers who will rape and abuse beloved while medea killed her 2 children to save them from the agony of being taunted by the others and abused by them from the others around them but also in other ways she killed them to since medea feels betrayed she takes it upon herself to spoil it by taking every last thing from their marriage away from him including the children. Weapons such as sword and daggers have heavy history behind it; Swords are the meaning of death with honor, while daggers are the opposite they are to kill with intent they are made to destroy. While with Sethe she killed her children in honor to save them, when baby suggs threw a party the schoolteacher came with his boys and a slave catcher for sethe and her kids, when sethe notices she cornered and has nowhere to run to she goes to the shed and thinks of the “great” idea of killing her children but after killing her baby beloved she attempts to kill denver but failed as she was stopped by stamp paid after that she was sent to prison for murder since school teacher didn't have the need for her.

While both stories seem to be similar Medea has the support of the gods behind her as seeing she is one taking them to the “sanctuary of Hera Akraia” a sacred land of the gods with rituals admitting to this unholy deed and never being able to forgive herself. While with sethe once she meets “beloved” she forgets about The baby she murdered and becomes too attached to this new one and forgets about the relationship she had with Paul D. denying jason the rights to even bury them since he is the cause of these events. Morrison wanted Beloved to be a general symbol of several things that society believes as a whole to be something made of evil such as the desire for revenge and selfish deeds, examples would be when Beloved manipulates Denver although she is able to break free from her trembling strength. Similar to this in Conrad's novel “Heart of Darkness” Marlow the main character goes through a huge change of emotions and transformation due to his long ranged exposure of the corruption that is being held in the congos in secret.

Even before Marlow leaves for his journey he's entrapped by the corruption of the jungle and the mysteries that lay there exploring the idea that Marlow lives with the idea that he must live in the midst of something that can't be comprehended and is fascinated. Throughout beloved people can observe Beloved as a interesting but a twisted and deranged character since she fails to notice the pain and agony of others around her, instead she rails to resist the desire of vengeance and takes control of sethe and denver. Alike this Marlow's attitude and personality in “Heart Of Darkness” changes are from his exposure to kurtz an corrupted person who caused marlow to lose faith in many things. Both of these characters became corrupt from the society they live in, societies that have been broken and beaten down by history. Along both novels a tone is shown that has people with a feeling that someone or something isn't worthy of their respect for the society's idea of slavery and the evils it imposes on societies around the world.

Both authors leave strong attitudes for the readers to have impressions on furthering a feeling of pity for the characters negatively affected by the slavery that has been going on for the past years and how it has caused them terrible lives. Morrison and Conrad have made 2 novels are on the outskirts may seem to be unlike the other though under all the confusing things there are connections to be made between the 2 emotional and physical paths that the characters of importance take. In Morrison's book “Beloved”she uses the psychological approach to explore the idea that human psyche controls the actions of the human when trying to protect the ones we love or cherish and if failed to fail we focus on the failures and let it bring our life down and haunt us.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Social Ideas in "Beloved" by Toni Morrison. (2021, Sep 09). Retrieved from

Social Ideas in "Beloved" by Toni Morrison essay
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