Analysis of Lord Farquaad from 'Shrek' from Humanistic and Psychodynamic Perspectives

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Lord Farquaad is the main evil villain of the movie ‘Shrek’, and shortest one too. He is the ruler of Duloc - and a cruel one at that. At the beginning of the movie Farquaad banishes all of the fairytale creatures from his land (relocated to Shrek’s swamp), torturing others to give up the location of whatever creatures he hasn't yet found. From the start he is portrayed as a cruel and insecure ruler, and yet is the butt of many short jokes.

The humanistic perspective became very influential during the 1950s and 1960s, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in particular has become one of the most popular theories of human motivation. Often presented in the form of a pyramid, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs features physiological needs as a base, then safety, belonging and love, esteem and at the pinochle self-actualization. The physiological needs include simple things such as sleep, food, water and air. The safety needs are things such as security, protection and not having to fear for your life. Belonging and love require close relationships and group membership. Esteem needs self-respect, respect from others, a high self-esteem and status. Self-actualization is personal growth and fulfilment.

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Lord Farquaad would have a hierarchy of needs, but it might not necessarily be pyramid shaped. Some people might prioritize some needs to be more important than others, altering the shape of their pyramid. This is unhealthy and unstable. In Lord Farquaad’s example, as a ruler he has all the necessary physiological needs set: all the food in the kingdom, plenty of water, fresh air and as much sleep as he wants. However, because Farquaad banished all of the fairytale creatures from his lands this might suggest that he has some concerns about his safety, or feels threatened by the creatures because they are different to him and his non-magical subjects. Because he mobilized his army to remove the creatures by force, rather than more peaceful means would suggest that he does not feel very connected to his subjects, and that he must rule by fear to maintain control. In addition to this Farquaad doesn’t have anyone close to him, anyone around him is either servant, soldier or prisoner, therefore he has neither belonging with close relationships or with a larger group. This damaged safety and belonging and love tiers of needs would result in a fractured self-esteem which Farquaad feels can only be repaired with more power over his dominion and to become a king. Farquaad’s pyramid has been distorted and changed by what he has prioritized, and thus he will not be able to achieve self-actualization until he makes necessary changes to do so.

Sigmund Freud invented the psychodynamic perspective, which looks at the unconscious mind as well as the id, ego and superego. He thought of the mind as an iceberg, the conscious mind being the tip of the iceberg above the water and what we are aware of. The subconscious or preconscious mind being just below the water which are thoughts and memories that have to be recalled. The unconscious mind contains the thoughts we cannot access. Feelings, wishes and impulses that can only be expressed in a Freudian slip or dreams. Freud also theorized that people go through various psychosexual stages as they grow up, and depending on how well they go through these stages will determine certain habits they will have as adults. The stages go from the oral stage lasting from 0 to 18 months, to the anal stage lasting from 18 to 36 months, to the phallic stage from 3 to 6 years, onto the latency stage from 6 years to puberty and finally the genital stage lasting from puberty onwards. In addition to this, Freud theorized the Oedipus complex based upon a son’s connection to his mother and castration anxiety, and the Electra complex based upon a daughter’s connection to her father and penis envy.

It is more difficult to analyze Lord Farquaad using the psychodynamic perspective because the psychodynamic perspective is usually analyzed by using methods such as the Rorschach inkblot test. However, one can always try. Farquaad’s extreme control over his ‘kingdom’ might suggest problems in his anal stage of growth. Farquaad may be fixated upon the retentive stage, which exhibits controlling an excessively neat behavior. At the beginning of the movie when Shrek and Donkey go into Duloc to confront Farquaad the whole place is incredibly neat, there is even a little automated puppet-play kind of thing that tells you exactly how to act. At later stages during the movie, it also shows a person who holds up posters telling people what they need to do so that everything is perfect. Farquaad may also have been fixated upon the Oedipus complex. He is famously a very short man, and there are a lot of jokes made about that throughout the movie. Farquaad undoubtedly feels very self-conscious about this, probably because short people are considered to be ‘unmanly’. He feels the need to make everything big and strong and powerful to compensate for this, such as the tower he lives in, or his military control over his state.

Both of these perspectives have their strengths and weaknesses. The humanistic perspective is excellent with its positive approach and the idea of self-concept - basically a mental picture you have of yourself outlining things you consider yourself to be. On the other hand, it had a poor testability and an unrealistic view of human nature. In addition to this inadequate evidence and the fact people usually don’t move through the pyramid in a linear manner don’t help it very much either. The psychodynamic perspective horribly emphasizes sexual and aggressive urges, is pessimistic and very biased against women. It also ignored social interactions and many aspects of the theory cannot be scientifically examined and is difficult to objectify.

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Analysis of Lord Farquaad from ‘Shrek’ from Humanistic and Psychodynamic Perspectives. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
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