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Freud's Id, Ego, And Super-ego In The Lord Of The Flies

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Sigmund Freud defines id, ego, and super-ego as the three parts of the psychic apparatus in his structural model of the psyche. Id is the part of someone's personality that contains basic drives, ego deals with the organized part of someones personality and with reality principles, and superego contradicts Id and aims for perfection. The Lord of The Flies by William Golding is about a group of young boys who get stranded on an island and resort to their human nature to survive.

The three main characters, Ralph, Jack, and Piggy all share different point of views on how to run the island. The author represents Id, ego, and superego through Jack relying on his instincts, Ralph containing common sense, and Piggy’s sense of reality and righteousness (respectively). In this novel, Jack illustrates Id through his selfish and instinctual behavior. Throughout the book, Jack is fixed on killing a pig and does not listen to anyone telling him otherwise. According to the text, “‘We want meat.’ ‘Well, we haven’t got any yet. And we want shelters.

Besides, the rest of your hunters came back hours ago. They’ve been swimming.’” (Golding 51) In this scene, Ralph is trying to talk some sense into Jack and explain the group’s necessities while Jack only has one desire which is to kill a pig. Jack is so focused on getting meat that he doesn’t keep in mind the fact that the boys need shelter, someone needs to keep the fire lit, the little kids are having nightmares, etc. This demonstrates how Jack acts on impulse because he does not take into consideration any other factors and stays with his instincts without any common sense behind it. Thus, Jack represents Id because he is only concerned with his immediate satisfaction, in this case meat, and knows no judgement of value. This can also be seen on page 100 where it states, “ ‘This’ll be a real hunt! Who’ll come?” Ralph moves impatiently. ‘These spears are made of wood. Don’t be silly.’ Jack sneered at him. ‘Frightened?’” (Golding).

In other words, the boys have discovered a beast on the island and Jack decides to go kill it yet doesn’t realize the possible threat of it and the condition of their weapons. When his idea is challenged by Ralph, he insults him as a way of avoiding reality. Although he sees that Sam and Eric were attack and are quite possibly traumatized from the beast, he doesn’t stop to ask about their well-being or show any empathy. To analyze, this demonstrates how Jack only strives to gratify his instinctual needs and has no organization because he avoids confrontation and any sense of common sense and only bases his actions off of his desires. It also shows how he has no sense of morality since he didn’t acknowledge Sam and Eric’s safety. Overall, Jack’s personality represents Id because he only relies off of his basic drives and lacks a conscience. Throughout the book, Ralph is constantly using his judgement and sense of reality to face problems and keep the group’s priorities in mind. Moreover, in the text it states, “I bet if I blew the conch this minute, they’d come running.

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Then, we’d be you know, very solemn, and someone would say we out to build a jet, or a submarine, or a TV set. When the meeting was over, they’d work for five minutes, then wander off or go hunting.” (Golding 51) To clarify, Ralph is explaining to Jack the problems that they are facing through logic. He is trying to make Jack see how things are not running smoothly on the island and changes must be made. Ralph understands their basic necessities and is realistic when it comes to setting things straight. He also recognizes how Jack’s selfish impulses can be problematic so he uses common sense to try to reason with him. Thus, this demonstrates how Ralph represents ego because he has judgement, intellectual functioning, and a sense of reality. He knows when something requires change, uses logic, and identifies how to fix a problem. Even when he was out of his natural state, Ralph still remained realistic and had his priorities straight.

According to the text, “No fire; no smoke; no rescue. He turned and limped away through the forest toward Jack’s end of the island.” (Golding 184) At this moment in the text, Ralph is trying to hide from Jack because he senses that they might kill him. He is injured and has just witnessed the death of Piggy, yet he still has his priorities in mind and understands what must be done in order for them to be rescued. Even through all of his traumatic experiences, Ralph remains realistic and his external environment directly influences him. Thus, Ralph represents ego because he has common sense and bases his actions on the idea that it will benefit him in the long term rather than bring immediate satisfaction. Piggy expresses a strong sense of morality and common sense throughout the story connecting him to the personality trait of superego. At the beginning of the book, Piggy is presented with a conflict and to help solve it he says, “‘We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting. They’ll come when they hear us—’...‘That’s what you meant, didn't you? That’s why you got the conch out of the water.’” (pg 16)

To reiterate, Ralph and Piggy have just met and Piggy found a conch to use as device to call for meetings. This demonstrates how Piggy strives for unity and looks up to others. He prioritizes the well being of those around him over his needs or wants. Without realizing it, he has an organized personality that aims for perfection, in this case making sure everything is orderly and arranged well. As a result, he represents superego because of his impulse towards perfection and morality. This is expressed on page 91 during a disorderly assembly where Piggy erupts and says, “‘What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages? What’s grownups going to think? Going off—hunting pigs—letting fires out—and now!’” (Golding) In this scene, the boys are having an assembly and people are talking over the person who has the conch, while also reacting absurdly to the idea of ghosts. This highlights how Piggy is questioning everyone's morality and is punishing their misbehavior with guilt. Bringing up the grown-ups shows how he strives to act in a socially appropriate manner and wants everyone else to do so too. His desire to please others and follow the norm drives him to act in this way.

Therefore, this demonstrates how Piggy represents superego because he is aware of his surroundings and has a clear sense of reality, and he strives for the right morality. Sigmund Freud’s idea of Id, ego, and superego can be connected to many aspects of life. In the Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Jack, Ralph, and Piggy each deal with challenges differently that reveal their human nature. Through the characterization of Jack, Ralph, Piggy, the author is able to represent Id, ego, superego. Jack illustrates Id through his unorganized instinctual tendencies, Ralph represents ego through his sense of reality, and Piggy depicts superego through his organized and righteous personality.

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Freud’s Id, Ego, And Super-ego In The Lord Of The Flies. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
“Freud’s Id, Ego, And Super-ego In The Lord Of The Flies.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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