Ego and Superego in Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Personality Development

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Since the publication of The Lord of the Flies, there have been many speculations as to what the allegorical connection was, but one of the most supported is that of Dr. Sigmund Freud. An analysis of William Golding’s, The Lord of the Flies, reveals the main characters identification with id, ego, and superego from Freud’s theory of personality development.

Jack’s pursuit of personal satisfaction blinds him from seeing the groups need and the ultimate goal of getting off the island which best identifies him as an id. Since early on, Jack had an obsession with the pigs and this obsession hindered his ability to see the needs of the group. Jack can be seen as an id because of his impulse to hunt for blood and his own pleasure rather than to provide the group with meat. Freud describes the id as part of the unconscious mind. He states that it always works to provide pleasure no matter what the cost. (Psychoanalysis) This can be easily connected to Golding’s portrayal of Jack’s hunt for the sow. Golding describes the hunters as, “Excited by the long chase and the dropped blood” (Golding 135) to show the pleasure that the boys feel. He then depicts the gruesome image of the dead sow by saying, “The spear moved forward inch by inch and the terrified squealing became a high pitched scream. Then Jack found the throat and the hot blood spouted over his hands” (Golding 135) in order to convey to the reader that Jack is so caught up in his own pleasure that he loses sight of reality and his descend into savagery. No longer does Jack hunt for meat, but instead for his pleasure which blinds him from seeing the goal of getting off the island and this is why he is best described as an id.

Piggy’s desire to always adhere to the rules and do what is right best relates him to a superego. When Ralph and Piggy first arrive at the beach, they find a conch and decide to use it as a symbol to show who is speaking in the group. In his theory, Freud claims that the superego is the conscious part of the mind that tries to control the impulsive behavior of the id and seeks to do the right thing no matter what and if it is not able to, may feel shame or guilt. (Funk and Wagnalls, Psychoanalysis) Throughout the multiple gatherings, everyone, especially Jack, dismisses Piggy causing him to shout, “I got the conch. I got a right to speak.” (Golding 45) This shows how Piggy tries to follow the rules that they have set and also to control Jack’s tendency of saying whatever he wants to his heart’s content without having the conch. After the murder of Simon, Ralph starts to realize what has happened. He says to Piggy, “Don’t you understand, Piggy? The things we did-” and Piggy replies, “He may still be-.” (Golding 157) As Ralph begins to take in everything that has happened, Piggy starts feeling shameful and guilty because he was not able to stop Jack and the others. This shame causes Piggy to deny and give excuses as Ralph mentions the tragedy. Piggy’s determination to stick with the rules and self shame from not being able to control Jack’s id are prime examples as to how Piggy identifies with superego.

Although Ralph prioritizes the signal fire, he must constantly mediate between Jack’s thirst for pleasure and Piggy’s desire to adhere to the rules, which is why he is best suited as an ego. In the beginning of The Lord of the Flies, one of the first things Ralph does as chief is getting a signal fire ready. While the others are enjoying fruit or hunting pigs, Ralph is thinking about what needs to be done in order to get off the island. Freud claims that the ego is the conscious part of the mind that mediates the id’s want for pleasure and the social pressures brought to bear by the superego. (Diane Andrews Henningfeld, An overview of Lord of the Flies) Golding gives us a prime example of Ralph trying to control Jack’s id. Ralph says, “I was talking about the smoke! Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is pig, pig, pig!” (Golding 57) This conveys how Ralph is trying to make Jack see what is actually needed the most. Later on, when Jack steals Piggy’s specs, Ralph says to Jack, “You pinched Piggy’s specs, you’ve got to give them back.” (Golding 204) This represents the ego’s role of mediating between the id and the superego. Ralph tries to get the specs back from Jack in order to give it back to Piggy. The postponement of the hunt in order to build a signal fire and the mediation between Jack and Piggy best matches Ralph to the role of ego.

Although one might think that WWII would be the obvious allegorical connection, through careful research, one is able to find other connections. Indeed, there are many allegorical connections in William Golding’s work of art, but through the analysis of Freud’s theory and Golding’s characters, one can clearly see the connections to Id, Ego and Superego.

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Ego and superego in Sigmund Freud's theory of personality development. (2022, Oct 05). Retrieved May 24, 2024 , from

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