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Psychological Development Of The Child In Walt Whitman’s Poem There Was A Child

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This research paper is an endeavor to find out the inner world of the child in the poem “There was a child went forth”, that how his personality develops due to the interference with his surroundings. Psychology as a general deals with the inner world and mind of an individual that exhibits the personality of that very individual also. Psychology is one the hotly debated topic in the world today and many psychologists have presented their conjecture regarding it and this is the reason there are many theories and ideologies about this topic. But in this research, the research intention and vexations are upon “The personality development”, the theory of Sigmund Freud. According to Freud’s personality development theory the personality of any individual takes proper shape and structure due to the surrounding, where he/she reacts to different situations and event. Freud also argues that there are three main components that play vital role in this process of personality development namely, Id, Ego and superego. In the poem “There was a child went forth”, the child’s psyche develops while giving reaction to the social surrounding and Freud in his Personality development theory says our personality grows and takes proper shapes due to our surroundings. So this research paper affirms the personality of the child in the poem “There was a child went forth” organizes under Sigmund Freud’s personality development theory.

KEYWORDS; Psychology, Personality, Social surrounding, Id, Ego, Superego.


Walter Whitman came into this world on May 31, 1918 and his hometown was West Hills long island. He is a well-known literary name since that time and he had inborn literary qualities. He suffered from financial crisis since his early childhood and those sufferings immensely affected him. Therefore his early childhood life is full of gloomy memories for him and also for his family. When he reached to the age of 11, he got admission in school and but soon needed to do a small clerical job because of their worse financial crisis. At that office, Whitman learned skills like printing press aned typewriting.

He may have expressed ‘wistful bits’ of filler material for infrequent issues. Clements excited contention when he and two companions struggled to curb the carcass of Elias Hicks to make a mortar form of his head. Clements left the Patriot presently a while later, conceivably because of the debate. In the coming season of summer, Whitman started work for another printer in Brooklyn. His family shifted back to West Hills in the spring, yet Whitman remained and resumed work at the shop of Alden Spooner, as a post of editorial manager of the main Whig week by week paper the Long-Island Star. While at the Star, Whitman altered into an ordinary supporter of the neighborhood library, joined a town debating society, started going to theater exhibitions, and in very concealed way distributed a part of his most punctual verse in the New-York Mirror. At age 16 in May 1835, Whitman left both the Star and Brooklyn. He migrated to New York City to fill in as a printer however, in later years, Whitman couldn’t recollect where.

Whitman did all his efforts to find work in the current and frequently discussed issues of the society probably because of the issues rising in the field of printing and distributing place, and also because of the descended economic crisis which lead to the panic of 1837. He also went back to his family in 1836 at his hometown Hempstead, Long Island. There he taught at various schools as education by the spring of the year 1838.

Whitman left the world on 26 March, 1892 because of milinary pneumonia and nephritis. Hundreds of people came to see his corpse at his home that was allowed for about three hours. His memorable tomb was made at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden. His funeral ceremony was also held at the time of burial where his relatives, companions and the general public came to bid farewell. One friend of him, payed tribute to him in his last funeral ceremony. His other family member are also buried in the same tomb.


Merriam Webster defines Psychology in such a way, that the scientific study of the human mind and their behavior toward others is called psychology. It can also be defined as the psychological and behavioral features of humans or the human community in society. It is also related to the psychological study related to various aspects of society and human’s perspective towards life and society

It is known fact that psychology is related to human mind and psyche (William James, 1890). It is the study of the science of behavior and mind (not to be perplexed with neuroscience). Psychology includes the study of voluntary and involuntary occurrences, as well as feelings and emotions. It is an academic discipline of profound scope. Psychologists look for an understanding of the emergent features of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those rising properties. As a social science, its primary objective is to comprehend individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching particular cases.

In this field, an expert specialist or analyst is known as a therapist and can be delegated a social, conduct, or psychological researcher. Therapists endeavor to comprehend the job of mental capacities in individual and social conduct, while likewise investigating the physiological and natural procedures that underlie intellectual capacities and practices.

While mental learning is regularly connected to the evaluation and treatment of emotional well-being issues, it is additionally coordinated towards comprehension and taking care of issues in a few circles of human action. By numerous records brain research at last intends to profit society. Most of the analysts are associated with some sort of restorative job, rehearsing in clinical, advising, or school settings. Many do logical research on a wide scope of points identified with mental procedures and conduct, and regularly work in college brain science divisions or educate in other scholarly settings (e.g., medicinal schools, emergency clinics). Some are utilized in modern and hierarchical settings, or in different territories, for example, human improvement and maturing, sports, wellbeing, and the media, just as in measurable examination and different parts of law.

Sigmund Freud theory of personality development in the poem There was a child went forth.

Psychology is the inner world of human beings that deals with the internal psyche and behavior of people. Psychology is one of the broad fields and this wide concept has been interpreted by a different psychologists. Among them Freud has a dominant name and he is the true icon of this field. In the beginning Freud presented psychoanalytical and psychoanalytic theory is the theory of personality organization and the dynamics of personality development that guides psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology. First spread out by Sigmund Freud in the late nineteenth century, the psychoanalytic hypothesis has experienced numerous refinements since his work. Psychoanalytic hypothesis came to full conspicuousness in the last third of the twentieth century as a component of the stream of basic talk with respect to mental medications after the 1960s, long after Freud’s demise in 1939, and its legitimacy is currently broadly questioned or dismissed. Freud had stopped his investigation of the cerebrum and his physiological examinations and moved his concentration to the investigation of the brain and the related mental traits making up the psyche, and on treatment utilizing free affiliation and the wonders of transference. His investigation underscored the acknowledgment of youth occasions that could impact the psychological working of grown-ups. His examination of the hereditary and after that the formative viewpoints gave the psychoanalytic hypothesis its attributes. Beginning with his distribution of The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, his speculations started to pick up noticeable quality

Apart from Freud there are many more psychologists who also have highlighted this theory according to their own ideas and perceptions. Saul McLeod (2018), in his research, argues that Jung’s work has also contributed to mainstream psychology in at least one significant respect. He was the first to distinguish the two major attitudes or orientations of personality – extroversion and introversion. He also identified four basic functions (thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting) which in a cross-classification yield eight pure personality types.

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Again in his another article Saul McLeod (2018), writes about Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development that, Erikson maintained that personality develops in a predetermined order through eight stages of psychosocial development, from infancy to adulthood. During each stage, the person experiences a psychosocial crisis which could have a positive or negative outcome for personality development.

Freud’s psychoanalytical theory is considered one of the renowned theories that many novelists and others literary figures have applied on their literary works. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory of personality development contends that human behavior is the result and combination of three main components of the brain, Id, Ego and Superego. This basic hypothesis of personality places incredible significance on how clashes among the pieces of the mind shape the personality and the behavior. These are the main three components of human personality and behavior that mould the individual’s personality namely Id, Ego and Superego. The poem There Was a Child Went Forth, is a poem where the writer talks about a child from his birth till maturity and there we can see this child comes across with different situations and also gives them certain reaction and thus his personality develops according to Freud theory.

The id, the most primitive of the three structures, is concerned with the instant gratification of basic physical needs and urges. It works altogether unknowingly (outside of cognizant idea). For instance, if your id strolled past a more peculiar eating dessert, it would in all probability take the frozen ice cream for itself. It doesn’t have the foggiest idea, or care, that it is impolite to take something having a place with another person; it would mind just that you needed the frozen ice cream. The same is the case with the child in the poem whenever he comes across with anything without caring about the aftereffects of that very thing the child embraced it.

The child in the poem is a mouthpiece of Freud’s personality development theory and his personality develops after going through different conditions and situations. Every day the child meets different entities and these entities become the part of his daily life and thus his behavior and personality organizes.

1.1 Research Questions

  • How is the psychological development of the child shown in the poem There Was a Child Went Forth?
  • What are the main influences of Freud personality development on child psychology in the same poem?

1.2 Research Objectives

  • To find out the main aspects of the psychological development of the child in the poem There Was a Child Went Forth.
  • To find out the child as a mouthpiece of Freud’s psychological theory in the same poem.

1.4 Theoretical Framework

We can find many theories and these enormous theories have been put forth by the literary figures to disintegrate different social problems. In this work, however, the researcher has used the poem for analysis. The researcher has put forth this research under the psychological theory of Sigmund Fraud.

1.5 Research Limitations

These speeches can be studied and analyzed from many perspectives because this poem is incorporated with many themes but it is difficult for the researcher to bring under consideration all the themes so the has taken into account the psychological study of a child in the poem.

1.6 Research Significance

This research is significant for the researchers in finding out the psycho of a child in the growing age. This research study is limited to one of the literary works of the poem and it will help the readers to understand the different complexities of a child in the growing stage till the old stage. Moreover, it will open new channels of research for future researches.

Literature Review

Different critics have given different views about the above depicted poem written by the well-known poet Walt Whitman. But the views that are most relevant with my thesis have been discussed here.

E.LaleDemirtürk (1985), Walt Whitman’s ‘There Wasa Child Went Forth’: THE IMAGE OF ‘EDGES’ IN THE ORIGINS OF LIFE Walt Whitman’s. This is a poem of edges that reveals a child’s generative touch with the world. His encounter with different objects sharpens his perception, for he touches the world through contrasts and opposites. The first edge is the third-month, the month of March, half winter and half spring, an edge between death and renewal of life in nature. As he literally intersects the edge, he interacts with nature and is able to gain a holistic vision of the animals as the ‘brood of the barnyard rather than seeing them separately.

Devardhi, Julia, Growth and Development of Individualism and Universalism in Selected Poems of Walt Whitman.Whitman’s verse is a rich subject for psychoanalytic translation also, this has dependably had a remarkable intrigue to scholarly faultfinders just as look into researchers. This examination is a basic and psychoanalytical investigation on a couple of chosen lyrics of Whitman. The sonnets have been chosen from the 1860 release of Leaves of Grass that highlighted Whitman’s most renowned lyric Song of Myself which is the primary lyric utilized all through. Different ballads were chosen as a help to recognize Whitman’s conviction that each individual is brought into the world with a remarkable personality furthermore, the individual endeavors constantly to understand this independence that is covered up in the different difficulties of life, both the darker and the lighter parts of life. A basic investigation together with the psychoanalytical methodology has been utilized to set up Whitman’s significant enthusiasm for the investigation of the development and improvement of the ‘youngster or individual’s voyage through disordered conditions in the regular world. This examination has consequently, helped the creator to understand the way that this ravenous want for a person’s development and improvement isn’t epiphanic, however, is the last demonstration of the rise of the ‘tyke or individual’ into an undeniable ‘artist’ in the wake of confronting the different difficulties of life.

Black Stephen A. (1998) in his research Psychological Approaches, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing), reproduced by permission.

Given that Whitman made the self his principal poetic topic, it was inevitable that he attracted psychological attention from the first Leaves of Grass on. He insisted that the poems were inseparable from himself, he confided that he created himself by writing poems, and he even dictated the identities of his readers. Nearly all studies of the poetry have been biographical, nearly all biographies have studied the poems to learn of their author, and most questions asked by interpreters and biographers have been psychological questions. Even among the early disciples, speculations about the poet’s magnetism and prophetic quality had psychological overtones.

Murray, (2005)in the note Psychological ApproachesSuperfluous perplexity encompasses a story beginning with Gavin Arthur in which he expresses that Edward Carpenter recognized to him being sexual with Walt Whitman. The disarray lies not in the points of interest of the story, yet by the way it has been passed down from Arthur to progressive ages. Numerous have erroneously accepted that the Arthur story is reported by an oral history just, with artist Allen Ginsberg as the essential channel, and consequently might be problematic

Justin Kaplan (2003), in his paper, Walt Whitman: A Life (Perennial Classics) Paperback Whitman’s virtuoso, interests, verse, and gender-ambiguous reasonableness weaved to make an extravagant life in the midst of the fierce American mid-nineteenth century. In distinctive detail, Kaplan inspects the secretive selves of the confounding man who commended the opportunity and poise of the individual and sang the gestures of recognition of majority rule government and the fellowship of man.

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Psychological Development Of The Child In Walt Whitman’s Poem There Was A Child. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from
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