Psychological Insights about Lord of the Flies Essay
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Dec 14th, 2019

Psychological Insights about Lord of the Flies Essay


Sigmund Freud’s personality structure is used throughout William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies. Each character has the personality trait of Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego structure. Their personalities are challenged in the story due to the theme of a deserted tropical island. The 3 main characters minds are challenged the most in the story because Ralph and Jack are supposed to be leaders. Ralph only wants what is best for the boys and Jack only cares about hunting and surviving.

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Golding uses Freud’s personality theory to explain the personalities of the main characters. Ralph is the Ego, Jack is the Id, and Piggy is the Super-Ego.

Williams Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies uses Sigmund Freud’s personality structural theory: Id, Ego and Superego. Each character in the book starts off with one personality, but then their mind is challenged when they crash into a deserted island. The boys have no parental authority and they realize it.

At first they think life is going to be alright until most of them turn into a complete wild savage and they are no longer the well-behaved school boy they once were. Golding uses Freud’s personality theory to explain the personalities of the main characters. Ralph is the Ego, Jack is the Id, and Piggy is the Super-Ego. The Ego is supposed to be the balance between the Id and the Superego.

Read more: Simon quotes lord of the flies essay

They understand that others have desires and needs and that being selfish can hurt us in the end. The Ego is the character who is supposed to be the better one out of everyone. Ralph is the ultimate Ego personality in Lord of the Flies. His conscience is balanced by Jack (Id) and Piggy (Superego). At the beginning, he does not know that he is the main key to survival, but soon to find out he really is. Ralph becomes a leader and wants to do well because of the influence of Piggy. When Ralph finds a conch shell and decides to use it as the main speaking tool on the island he shows a strong sense of Ego. “We can use this to call the others. Have a meeting.

They’ll come when they hear us.” He beamed at Ralph. “That was what you meant, didn’t you? That’s why you got the conch out of the water?” (Page 16) Whoever was holding the conch was allowed to speak and no one should interrupt. Ralph has a big heart and thinks before he acts. He shoes his kindness by protecting Piggy and only wanting what is best for all the other boys. Freud’s Superego personality represents the conscience. It is developed through moral and ethical restraints placed on us by our caregivers. Piggy is definitely the Superego in Lord of the Flies.

Piggy is the Superego because he is the only boy who can see danger ahead of them. He tries to show kindness to all the other boys, but in return all he is picked on. Piggy sticks by Ralph’s side through the entire book. “Piggy was… so full of pride in his contribution to the good of society that he helped to fetch wood.” Piggy only wanted what was best for the boys and for them to work together. He was considered the more scientific person of the group. His glasses played an important role in the book because they started the signal fire for the boys to be rescued. Even though Piggy was whinny and complained a lot he always stuck by Ralph’s side and never gave up on the thought that they could be rescued.

The biggest personality that plays apart in Lord of the Flies is the Id. The Id overcomes most of the boys and makes them change. An Id personality contains our primitive impulses. Jack shows the change to the Id personality the most in the story. He starts off as a well-behaved young boy and then ended up turning into a wild savage. Jack becomes obsessed with hunting and killing animals. “‘Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!’ (Chapter 7) His whole mindset is about being hunter and nothing else matters.

Freud says that an Id personality can sometimes represented by a devil sitting on someone’s shoulder. The devil sitting on Jack’s shoulder is making him change completely. At the beginning, Jack never would have thought about killing one of his friends, but his wild mindset takes over him and his group and they kill their friend Simon. Jacks sidekick Roger is just like him. Roger ends up rolling a boulder off the side of a cliff and smashing Piggy’s brains out and killing him. Both Jack and Roger let the devil get the best of them and do not realize it until the very end when they are rescued.

All of the characters have a define personality on the island. Some of them change and others stay the same. The animalistic urges of the Id really come out in Lord of the Flies. The primitive desires of the Id are the leading feature of one’s individuality. The characters that symbolize the animalistic urges of the Id are created in order to demonstrate the primitive unconscious part of the human mind. There is a portion of Id in each character, but Jack, Roger, and Ralph are the most excellent examples. The Beast is a big symbol in the story because all the boys think there is a real beast on the island; when truly the beast is inside the boys. The only character to realize this is Simon because when he imagines the Lord of the Flies (pig head) is talking to him it tells him that the boys fear the beast because it is truly inside of them. Simon never explains to them because the inner beast comes out when the boys kill Simon when he runs out of the forest.

The symbol of the beast takes over most of the boys. The beast is a psychological symbol inside the boys minds. Lord of the flies just isn’t just based on a psychological insight, but also how human nature takes over. K.M. Parivelan’s critical article about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies talks about how the book shows a psychological approach about human-self and human nature. “The work characterizes Golding’s underlying theme ‘man produces evil as a bee produces honey’. In all his works the author has relentlessly pursued the objective of making man face ‘the sad fact of his own cruelty and lust’ and has upheld the conviction ‘man is a fallen being’.

The fact that man is gripped by original sin and is in an inherently perilous state justifies evil and Psychological Insights its innate fusion with human existence.” Parivelan is saying that Golding shows in Lord of the Flies that the boys on the island show their inner evil through human-self and human nature. The nature of the island makes the boys become a person who they really are not. Death and the presences of destruction come out of most of the boys, while “Right from the beginning, Ralph is the only character who demonstrates his resolve for creating a democratic society. Initially, he is exultant due to the new freedom.” Evil really shows in Lord of the Flies through the power of human-self and human nature. Evil, hunting and killing is now the only thing the boys care about.

A human beings personality can change at time and in extraordinary situations. It all comes back to a psychological mind change and a personality. No human being has the same personality their whole life. Human nature can make a human being change completely if they have never lived in that kind of environment before. Ralph tries to be the civilized one and make sure there are ground rules that boys follow so nothing bad would happen. In the end, Jack turns on Ralph and becomes an evil and has a killing mind set. Ralph just wants the boys to work together so he creates a way of speaking when they have meetings. “At the beginning, the conch becomes a really powerful symbol for law, order and civilization. As the boys are slowly descending into savagery, the conch loses its influence among them.” The civilization among the boys changes and they do not work together. At the end, two of the boys lose their lives due to the “evil” psychological mind change of most of the boys.

Sigmund Freud’s theory plays a huge role throughout the whole story. Each character starts out with one personality and then it changes into another. The “beast” was not really on the island, but truly inside of the boys. It took over most of them. Jack and Roger become pure evil and only care about killing animals and even humans. In the end, the boys are rescued and reality strikes back into their heads. All of the boys start to weep and finally realize what they had become. The boys had lost two of their good friends because they had let the “beast” overcome them. The boys probably learned an important lesson about how a human mind can snap at any given moment.

Psychological Insights
Parivelan , K. M. (n.d.). critical analysis of the psychological insights in Lord of the Flies by William Golding . Retrieved from Meghdutam website:

Psychological Behavior in “Lord of the Flies”. (2006). Retrieved from
BookRags, Inc. website:

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