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Lord of the Flies Meets Sigmund Freud Essay

Have you ever been watching a television show and the character on
screen is trying to make a decision when a small angel and a small devil
pop up on his shoulders. The angel says what should be done and the devil
says what it wanted to be done. This can be connected to Freud’s theory of
personality. Freud suggested that each personality has a large unconscious
component. He believed that many of our pleasurable and painful
experiences are forgotten or buried in the unconscious. We may not
consciously recall these experiences but they may continue to influence our
behavior. He came up with what is now known as the structural concepts of
the mind: id, ego and superego. They tell you how the mind functions and
how the instinctual energies are regulated. You can find evidence of the
structural concepts of the mind in many things from television shows to
books to movies, like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. But do the boys
in Lord of the Flies display being driven by the three states of minds and
do they use the seven defense mechanisms to avoid anxiety?
In the book Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a school of British
boys are on a flight during the war. Their plane gets shot down, and it
lands on an island in the middle of the ocean. There are no adults alive
so the boys must fend for themselves and work as a team in order to
survive. At least one of the characters displays being driven by id, ego
or superego. Most of the defense mechanisms are used in order to avoid the
pressure of living on an island, with no one to help you.

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At one time or another in the book, each of the boys displays being
driven constantly by id, even Ralph. However, Jack shows that he is
constantly being driven by id. Id is the part of your mind that desires
instant pleasure and immediate gratification. It is concerned with what
you want versus what you need. The first sign of id in Lord of the Flies
is when Jack, Ralph and Simon are going to the highest point of land, to
see if it is in fact an island. On their way up they find a boulder and
push it over. Jack was the first one to notice it and start pushing. This
shows id because had someone been in the way, the rock could have caused
serious injury or even death. They pushed the rock merely to have fun and
prove to themselves their own strength. They didn’t think of any of the
possible consequences. Another example of Jack being driven by id is when
he and his hunters go to kill the pig instead of keeping the fire going.

While the choir was off hunting, the fire went out and a plane overhead.

Since the fire went out, their chances of being seen and rescued were
decreased. The hunters desired the meat. They didn’t need the meat
because they had only been on the island a short period of time and could
have survived longer without it. Instead of being rescued, id took over
their minds and they went to kill the pig for food.

The boy who seems to be constantly driven by ego is Ralph. This is
why he was chosen to be their leader instead of Jack. Ego is the reality
principle. It is the most conscious part of the three parts of mind.It
considers the external consequences of direct actions and behaviors,
whether they be good or bad. Ego makes the final decision of what is going
to be done. Ralph shows this when he decides to light a fire in case a
plan flies over the island. The outcome of being seen by a plane could be
getting rescued. He also shows it when he decides whoever has the conch in
group discussions is the only person allowed to talk. This shows ego
because Ralph is considering the consequences of group conversations. He
knows that without this rule, everyone would talk at once. With it,
everything is more organized, and everybody who wants to speak has their
chance.

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The character in Lord of the Flies who best displays being constantly
driven by superego is Piggy. Superego is the moral principle of mind. It
isn’t concerned with what is wanted or needed, but is concerned with what
should be done. It is the source of conscience which operates in terms of
a moral principle. The superego can cause problems as well. It is also
the source of guilt feelings which come from small to serious deviations
from what defines as “right”. He first shows this right at the beginning
of the movie when he says to Ralph: we ought to go find the others. They
don’t necessarily need to find the other boys and he isn’t worrying about
whether he wants to go find them or not.

The ego’s job is so hard that unconsciously all people resort to
psychological defenses. Instead of facing extreme anxiety, people make
themselves believe that nothing is wrong. If the demands of the id and ego
can’t be solved, people may distort reality. If this is done, a defense
mechanism is being used. There are seven different types of defence
mechanisms all of which are used to avoid anxiety.

Repression is ignoring or pushing away a thought, memory or feeling
that causes pressure or anxiety out of the conscious mind and into the
unconcious. When one of the boys is trying to remember his phone number,
but can’t do so, he is unconsciously using repression. This shows
repression because he may have not had a good home life. Perhaps he was
abused as a child, and this w as painful for him so he pushed it away out
of his conscious mind.

Projection occurs when inner feelings are thrown away from the ego
towards another object or organism in order to avoid anxiety. I don’t
believe that there was any projection in Lord of the Flies. None of the
characters used this defense mechanism.

Reaction formation involves replacing an unacceptable feeling or urge
with its opposite. Jack shows this when he loses the vote to see who will
be chief of the island. When he loses, he says fine. To him, it was
probably not fine because he wanted to be chief and Ralph beat him. He
replaced his upset emotions by saying fine. This is the complete opposite
of the true way that he felt.

Regression means to go back to an earlier and less mature pattern of
behavior to escape anxiety. When a person is under severe pressure and
their other defenses are not working, they may start acting in ways that
have helped them in the past. Ralph shows this towards the end of the
book. When he finds out the others are going to try and kill him, he runs
away and hides. This does not seem like something Ralph would do. Usually
he would try to talk to them instead of running away from them. In the
past, he may have run away from his problems.

Displacement occurs when the object of an unconscious wish provokes
anxiety. The anxiety is reduced when the ego unconsciously shifts the wish
to another object. Whenever anxiety is upon Piggy or he is in an
uncomfortable situation, he takes off his glasses and cleans them. His
anxiety is reduced from being extremely uncomfortable, to merely worrying
about his glasses. Another example is when Jack lets the fire go out, he
is most likely angry at himself. He projects his anger at Piggy by
punching him though he may not have deserved it.


Denial means one refuses to believe that an event ever happened. It
is basically a severe repression. The boys use denial when they are told
that there is a monster on the island. They say that there is no monster,
but they do not know this for a fact. Therefore, they are using denial.

Rationalization means to create a false but plausible excuse to avoid
anxiety. One situation in Lord of the Flies shows two different uses of
rationalization. When Simon is murdered, Piggy uses rationalization while
talking to Ralph. Ralph says that they murdered him, and Piggy says that
it wasn’t murder because they didn’t know that it was him, they thought it
was the beast. Jack also shows rationalization in this situation. He told
his tribe that it wasn’t Simon they killed, but simply the beast in
disguise.

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Sigmund Freud did not come up with the only theory of personality.

Another one is a hierarchy of needs which was set up by Abraham Maslow. He
believed that you have to satisfy the lower needs before you can get to the
higher ones. The levels (starting from lowest to highest) are basic needs,
safety and security, love and belongingness, self esteem and self
actualization. Basic needs include hunger, thirst, warmth, shelter and sex
drives. The boys show basic needs when they agree that they are going to
need to build shelters. They know that there is plenty of fruit on the
island so they won’t get hungry and they also found a stream which they can
use to bathe in and drink from. When the choir goes hunting for pigs, they
come back and say that they needed meat. This could also fall under basic
needs. The boys are far too young to be worried about their sex drive,
therefore, it does not need to be satisfied in order to get to the next
level. Safety and security is the need to feel secure, safe and out of
danger. The only reason that the boys follow Jack and join his tribe is
because they don’t believe that Ralph will keep them safe enough.

Therefore, the only way for Jack to keep power is to keep them at safety
and security. In order to do so, he has to make them keep on believing
that there is a monster on the island. If the boys feel safe without Jack,
then they would go back to Ralph as Jack shows them no love and they would
feel that he is doing nothing to get them off the island. This would bring
them up to Love and belongingness. This means to affiliate with others and
to be accepted and belong. Self esteem needs include the need to achieve,
be competent and to gain approval and recognition. Piggy is very worried
about his self esteem. He tells Ralph that his nickname used to be Piggy
and asks him not to tell the others as it bothers him. This would be a
self esteem issue for him. To be seslf actualized means to fulfill your
own unique potential. A self actualizated person is realistic,
spontaneous, independent, they identify with humanity, they have a
philosophical sense of humor, and they are creative. These are only a few
of the characteristics of a self actualized person. There is only one boy
on the island that reaches self actualization. The boy is Simon. Many of
the times he is shown, he is off by himself. This shows his detachment and
his need of privacy. He also identifies with humanity. He appears to love
nature, and enjoys its company.


I learned that all the little errors that people say are errors are
not errors at all. That they are saying these things unconsciously, even
if they apologize for it afterwards.In the future, I think that Ralph
would become very withdrawn and keep to himself mostly. Jack would most
likely deny that any of the boys died. I think he would pretend that none
of it ever happened. He may also become overwhelmed with power and try to
be the “chief” of everything. Also, most of the times that people are
being cruel to others, or say things like “that person is sad”; it could be
because that person is angry at themselves, or that person is truly the one
that is sad. People would do almost anything to avoid the anxieties of
life, but they will always be there and everyone uses different ways to
escape them.



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May 10, 2004

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Lord of the Flies Meets Sigmund Freud Essay
Artscolumbia
Artscolumbia
Have you ever been watching a television show and the character on
screen is trying to make a decision when a small angel and a small devil
pop up on his shoulders. The angel says what should be done and the devil
says what it wanted to be done. This can be connected to Freud's theory of
personality. Freud suggested that each personality has a large unconscious
component. He believed that many of our pleasurable and painful
experiences are forgotten or buried in the unconsci
2018-12-27 04:00:58
Lord of the Flies Meets Sigmund Freud Essay
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