The Mental Life

Conflict occurs due to disparaging perspectives from different people; when one person interprets a situation a certain way, and another disagrees with this few, conflict, big or small, ensues. This conflict is seen in countless modern day political issues, such as the issues concerning President Donald Trump and candidate Hillary Clinton. Different points of view tends to come from the different stages in the mental life. Like pieces of a puzzle, these stages must fit together for perfect harmony. If they don’t balance together, there will only be chaos. In the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding and in modern sources, all authors explore the impact of the id, ego, and superego.


The id personality trait coincides with the phrase “I get what I want when I want it”. This phrase defines Jack's lack of consideration for consequences; he is both emotionally and mentally immature, and thus attempts to get what he wants without thinking of any negative outcome. Jack also idolizes the wrongs things. While the other characters in the novel try to devise ways to escape the island, Jack recklessly and chillingly parades through the forest while murdering and causing internal conflict.This childish behavior is seen when Golding writes, “ ‘The rules!’ shouted Ralph. ‘You’re breaking the rules!’


‘Who cares?’[Jack]...
‘Because the rules are the only thing we’ve got!’
But Jack was shouting against him.


‘Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong- we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat-!’ ” (Golding 86). The quote reveals how Jack’s instinctive immature behavior contradicted Ralph’s more mature and realistic behavior. Although Ralph is attempting to help their cause by creating an efficient system to follow to prevent conflict, Jack’s rebellious and wild behavior is only doing the opposite. These actions directly relate to the id personality trait. The id personality trait is the first stage of the mental life; the immature and selfish stage. Sigmund Freud describes it as one’s first instinct when he quotes, “Characterizes our instinctual, ‘hardwired’ responses, reactions, drives, etc” (Freud 5). In other words, he is exclaiming that one in the id stages actions’ will be meant to satisfy themselves, revealing their selfish mindset. Also, they will proclaim any thought in their mind, portraying their reckless attitude. This evidently relates to Jack as he rarely thinks before speaking and merely cares about only his well being; nobody elses’. Jack’s id personality plays a large role in the external conflict with all the characters on the island. To conclude, Jack is the representative of the id personality trait due to his impulsiveness, selfishness, and overall reckless behavior.


The ego personality trait is the second stage in the mental life and directly corresponds with Ralph’s realistic mindset in Lord of the Flies. Ralph, being the realistic figure in the novel, spends his time trying to maintain peace and find a way off the island. He has all the qualities of a leader, evidently resulting in him being elected as their leader. He starts fires, makes an efficient system of rules, and is constantly trying to prevent conflict. When the other characters are doubtful, Ralph’s ambitious self is activated as he is already coming up with a plan to satisfy everyone. This mature behavior is seen when Golding writes, “We must make a fire” (Golding 36). This quote reveals how Ralph has one goal, which is to get off the island. Being the realistic one, he knows that their only way of survival is to get rescued. How are they going to get rescued? Ralph's intelligent and realistic attitude is evident by his idea of creating smoke signals to attract possible sources of rescue, boats.It’s this intellectual and ambitious attitude that gets him voted as leader. Another major example of his realistic mindset is his aforementioned system of rules. He knows that without rules, there is only chaos. These leader-like actions directly relates to the ego personality trait. This ego personality trait assists Ralph constantly throughout the novel. Kendra Cherry associates the ego trait as the backbone of the mental life when she states, “The ego operates on the reality principle, which 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” (Cherry 1). The quote explains that the ego stage is meant to partially satisfy the id, while simultaneously thinking prior to making any decisions. This evidently relates to Ralph as he is constantly thinking of solutions to be rescued and seeks ways to maintain peace while on the island. Ralph’s ego personality trait as he was leader plays a large role in the harmony on the island prior to Jack becoming leader. Finally, the ego personality trait consists of realistic goals and what one must do to accomplish them.  Ralph is the representative of the ego personality trait due to his realistic, mature, and ambitious behavior.


The superego personality trait is the third and final stage in the mental life and directly corresponds with Piggy’s perfectionist mindset in Lord of the Flies. Piggy, being the perfectionist and most mature figure in the novel, spends his time trying to appear as the perfect child in the eyes of the other characters, but more importantly, his auntie. Piggy’s kindness impacts the plot drastically as he is constantly being “stepped on” because he does not want to cause any trouble. This perfectionist behavior is seen when Golding writes, “My auntie told me not to run” (Golding 10).  Although it may seem measly, towards the start of the novel he does everything that his auntie desires of him, such as not running or swimming. This isolates him as the other characters are capable of doing actions that he won’t. This slowly sets him apart which impacts him drastically in the end. His perfectionist-like actions directly relates to the superego personality trait. This superego personality trait weakens Piggy constantly throughout the novel. Saul McLeod corresponds the superego trait with the term perfectionist when he quotes, “The superego’s function to to control the id’s impulses, especially those which society forbids… It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and strive for perfection ” (McLeod 2). The quote explains that the superego stage is meant to completely hide the id’s temptations, diminish realistic thoughts, and focus on being as perfect as possible. This evidently relates to Piggy as he is constantly trying to be an angel in the eyes of the his auntie. This in the end makes him inferior to the other characters.  Piggy’s superego personality trait makes him a “pushover”, which hurts him in the end. Furthermore, superego is described as how to achieve perfection, which makes Piggy the representative of the superego trait in the novel as he must be appear as his auntie’s little angel.


Id, ego, and superego must be blended together in order to achieve harmony. In the novel, the characters all portray different stages in the mental life. They should have used their different characteristics to their advantage, instead they used it as fuel to create tension between them. Throughout the novel, there is constant fear of some sort of beast lingering around on the island. While some characters like Jack believed it actually was an animal which they must hunt and kill, others believed it was a figment of their imagination which represented their fear and conflict there was for each other. This is seen when Golding writes, “Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us” (Golding 83-84). The quote shows how the conflict between them has grown so much that their conscious is creating a “beast”. When in reality, it is just all their fear and conflict put into a figure and placed in their minds. If they were to work together and use their own personal traits to balance off each other, the “beast” would be destroyed. Kendra Cherry explains the key to harmony when she quotes, “The key to a healthy personality is a balance between the id, the ego, and the superego” (Cherry 2). The quote reveals how you must have the id trait to be forceful, the ego trait to accomplish goals, and the superego trait to become as perfect as possible. Overall, the key to unlock perfect harmony is a blend between all the stages in the mental life.


In conclusion, both the novel Lord of the Flies and modern sources explore the interactions between the id, ego, and superego traits and the impacts it has. Each trait alone contradicts the other traits, causing only chaos. For perfect harmony, the traits must all balance with each other and assist with the flaws presented. Peace would be established in the novel and in modern day society, if and only if, one learns to adapt to the other stages of the mental life.






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