Sigmund Freud: Id, Ego And Superego

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In an attempt to understand the important process of human behaviour, Sigmund Freud developed three concepts- Id, Ego and Superego, which are primordial in the understanding of the human mind (McLeod, 2013). While each of these three concepts has a different role to play in the life of the major characters, notably Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius or Ophelia, this essay will discuss how each of these characters are led to their downfall because of the manifestation of their Id, and attempts to repress their inner desires and resolve the conflict within leads to a series of catastrophes. Before applying the 3 concepts to Hamlet, it is crucial to define and situate them in the psychosexual development stages. To Freud, the Id, part of the unconscious,…show more content…
Displacement mechanism refers to the situation whereby an object of interest is replaced with another (McLeod, 2013). The fact that Hamlet tries to substitute Gertrude with Ophelia signals his Ego`s attempt to suppress his Id and adhere to the reality principle. The reality principle would advocate Ophelia as a better candidate for him and for the satisfaction of his impulses. Ernest (1922) calls Hamlet`s feelings for Ophelia “obscure” and his “unconscious attempt to play her off against his mother.” Whether Hamlet loved Ophelia or not, remains debatable, however, Hamlet is unable to hide behind the illusion and safety valve that Ophelia provides. His pent up frustration against his mother results in an outburst against Ophelia whereby Hamlet verbally assaults her- “go thee to a nunnery.” Ophelia is also guided by her Id since she desires Hamlet and upon being abused by the latter, she loses her sanity and her will to live, showing the reign of Thanatos, thus, prompting her suicide. Her father, representing her superego, attempts to control her behavior along the lines of morality, but the consequence is rather disastrous as her Id…show more content…
Firstly, King Hamlet appears when Hamlet was contemplating about suicide, thus, letting Thanatos rule. However, his father, his Superego provides him with a motive to live for- revenge against Claudius. This not only prevents Hamlet from committing the immoral sin of suicide, but also promises a reward- the eradication of the barrier between him and Gertrude. Franco Zefirrelli`s Hamlet (1990) points at the dramatic entrance of King Hamlet who catches Hamlet and Gertrude kissing, turning Hamlet guilty while his Superego effectively stifle his actions. This scene also displays Gertrude`s desires. It is clear that his father symbolizes an authority which controls his desires. However, Hamlet cannot completely suppress his Oedipus complex since there is possibly an absence of the fear of castration and rivalry since he cannot identify with a ghost and the power of his Id constantly

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