Lord of the Flies: a psychoanalytical Reading Directions

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Lord of the Flies: A Psychoanalytical Reading

Directions: Your group will be assigned one of the following psychic apparatus: the id, the ego, and the superego. Many critics of LotF have argued that each character represents one of these apparatuses. Thus, here is your task:

  1. Read the entire piece.

  2. Chunk, identify main ideas and write main idea statements for your assigned section.

  3. Decide which character you’ll analyze based on this apparatus.

  4. Grab a large sheet of paper and on it, please present the following to us:

    1. A working definition of your apparatus (what is the id/ego/superego)

    2. A picture that best represents this apparatus (how could you represent it symbolically or through a mini-cartoon?)

    3. Two quotations from the novel that best represent your character working within this apparatus (how is the character representing the id/ego/superego?)

    4. A picture/cartoon that shows the character(s) using this apparatus – please think about a specific scene that would demonstrate this – using any chapter you’ve read.

    5. A 3-5 sentence description of how your character embodies this apparatus.

Main Idea Statements:



Id, ego and super-ego are the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche; they describe three theoretical constructs of the mind (and the mind is not the same thing as the brain). According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the ego is the moralizing, realistic part; and the super-ego plays the critical and moralizing role.

The ID:

An importat part of the nervous system is a sensitivity to the “organism’s” needs. According to Freud, we are born with our Id.  The id is an important part of our personality because as newborns, it allows us to get our basic needs met.  Freud believed that the id is based on our pleasure principle.  In other words, the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation.  When a child is hungry, the id wants food, and therefore the child cries.  When the child needs to be changed, the id cries.  When the child is uncomfortable, in pain, too hot, too cold, or just wants attention, the id speaks up until his or her needs are met.

The id doesn't care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction.  If you think about it, babies are not really considerate of their parents' wishes.  They have no care for time, whether their parents are sleeping, relaxing, eating dinner, or bathing.  When the id wants something, nothing else is important.

The id works in keeping with the pleasure principle, which can be understood as a demand to take care of needs immediately. Just picture the hungry infant, screaming itself blue. It doesn't "know" what it wants in any adult sense; it just knows that it wants it and it wants it now. The infant, in the Freudian view, is pure, or nearly pure id.

Main Idea Statements:


The EGO:

Unfortunately, although a wish for food, such as the image of a juicy steak, might be enough to satisfy the id, it isn't enough to satisfy the “organism” (you). The need only gets stronger, and the wishes just keep coming. You may have noticed that, when you haven't satisfied some need, such as the need for food, it begins to demand more and more of your attention, until there comes a point where you can't think of anything else. This is the wish or drive breaking into consciousness.

Within the next three years, as the child interacts more and more with the world, the second part of the personality begins to develop.  Freud called this part the Ego.  The ego is based on the reality principle.  The ego understands that other people have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run.  It’s the ego's job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality of the situation.  

In other words, the ego strives to satisfy the id's desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses. In many cases, the id's impulses can be satisfied through a process of delayed gratification--the ego will eventually allow the behavior, but only in the appropriate time and place.

The ego, unlike the id, functions according to the reality principle, which says "take care of a need as soon as an appropriate object is found." It represents reality and, to a considerable extent, reason.


However, as the ego struggles to keep the id (and, ultimately, the organism) happy, it meets with obstacles in the world. It occasionally meets with objects that actually assist it in attaining its goals. And it keeps a record of these obstacles and aides. In particular, it keeps track of the rewards and punishments through two influential objects in the world of the child -- mom and dad. This record of things to avoid and strategies to take becomes the superego. It is not completed until about seven years of age. In some people, it never is completed.

By the age of five, the Superego develops, which is the moral part of us and develops due to the moral and ethical restraints placed on us by our caregivers.  Many equate the superego with the conscience as it dictates our belief of right and wrong.


In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the id, not upset the superego, and still take into consideration the reality of every situation.  This is not an easy job by any means, but if the id gets too strong, impulses and self-gratification take over the person's life.  If the superego becomes too strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals, and would be judgmental and unbending in his or her interactions with the world. 

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