The novel, The Lord of The Flies written by William Golding demonstrates how societal pressures can influence one’s decisions especially with younger kids. Due to the age of the characters within the novel, they exhibit traits that coincide with the Freud’s principles of social hierarchy. After a rough plane crash, many boys from the ages of eight to twelve are deserted on an island and have to conspire a way to survive. The situation within the book creates an ideal circumstance to analyze the behaviors in social interactions that these young children exhibit, due to the fact that they have no adult influence or supervision. The characters butt-heads trying to figure out what to do in a life or death situation. Characters such as Ralph and Jack in the novel, The Lord of the Flies exhibit perfect examples of Freud’s theory on ego and superego and the Id.
The idea of ego is represented in the novel by the character Ralph. Ego in the novel is translated by Ralph being a dominant character, but at the same time being reasonable. He wants the boys to not become savages, and he is focused on overall wellness of the group along with being able to sustain life until they find a way off the island. Ralph remains to be realistic with the circumstances and wants to satisfy the needs of the other boys in a way that seems manageable. Ralph helps to establish a middle-ground for the others that keeps the boys instinct to hunt and fool around, but also keeps the reality of the situation present. “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. We’re English, and the English are best at everything” (Golding 45). This example from the book shows that Ralph is being logical and doesn’t want to pursue the nature of being reckless and wants to keep everything under control until they can leave the island. The conflict that rises is that the character Jack wants to do the exact opposite. He believes that if he asserts his dominance and gets the kids to follow him that hunting and not working together with the others will work for him. These personalities make it hard for the boys to come together due to their ignorance and their age. Being put into this situation, Jack and his crew treat it as a fantasy. When choosing who should be chief, Ralph takes a civil approach. “The decision is made to appoint Ralph chief, since he is tall, attractive, and has possession of the delicate yet powerful conch shell; he is described as having a stillness about him. To be fair, Ralph asks for those for would rather have Jack as chief raise their hands; only the choir does, with dreary obedience” (Bloom 4). Though the examples of how Ralph establishes rules for the others to follow, and is civil and reasonable when creating a hierarchy within their new established society, it is evident that he represents ego.
Id is demonstrated in the novel through the character Jack. He exhibits this trait through the ways he interacts with those around him, and how they reciprocate his behavior. Jack obtaining his alpha-status and remaining one of the dominant characters throughout the novel reiterates how his specific character trait is important in the overall dynamic of the society. “Jack was loud and active. He gave orders, saying, whistled, threw remarks at the silent Ralph- remarks that did not need an answer, and therefore could not invite a snub; and still Ralph was silent” (Golding 73). Id is a very instinctive trait that is mainly inherited through a dominant source like his parents and he tries to reciprocate that dominant personality in a situation demonstrated in the book. Him being one of the oldest, he feels it is natural to be the intimidating, and impulsive leader. “Where in the id is desire, the instinct or basic drives, which are unconscious; the superego is the moralistic aspect of the psyche, which is mostly unconscious; and the ego the part of the psyche that tries to balance the id and the superego and is half in the conscious mind” (Reesman). So as time goes on throughout the book, and the events start to get more serious, Jack shows his personality in a savage manner and does not seem to see life through anyone else’s eyes but his own. Id is the perfect comparison for Jacks role in the book.
The idea of the superego is someone who has an overall moral good inside and tackles societal issues with peace. Piggy carries out this role very well throughout the novel and offered many suggestions and strategies that were not used that ultimately would have altered the outcome of the group in the end. For example, piggy is always nagging Ralph to do the right thing for the tribe. He’s seen to be the good conscious on your shoulder when making a decision. The only problem with that is when Piggy goes to put his two cents in on tribal responsibility, he is not treated his age nor does he get a lot of respect. Him being chubby and less masculine than the others, it is hard for Piggy to show his values. Also, Ralph is the chief, he is also the ego so therefore Piggy goes through Ralph with his strategies. Piggy is always involved, his glasses helped light the first main fire, watched Simon pass away, and challenges Jack. “The booing rose and died again as Piggy lifted the white, magic shell. “Which is better –to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?” A great clamor rose among the savages. Piggy shouted again”(Golding 200). A prime example in the book that shows how he is the superego of the novel
Bloom, Harold. “Lord of the Flies.” Lord of The Flies, New Edition, Chelsea House, 2010.
Bloom’s Literature, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=97927;itemid=WE54;articleId=2094. Accessed 4 Nov. 2018.
Reesman, Jeanne Campbell. “Sigmund Freud and Jack London.” Critical Companion to Jack
London, Facts On File, 2011. Bloom’s Literature,
Accessed 4 Nov. 2018.