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The Freudian Approach To Tragic Heroes

2020 words - 8 pages

The exploration of human nature is an endevour that has lasted for thousands of years. It is a vast psychological study that extends even to the artistic pursuits in dramatic plays. Oedipus Rex and Hamlet are two plays that are prime examples of this. In both plays, the character's traits, the motivations behind their actions, and their reactions to circumstance directly link them with the theories of Victorian Psychologist Sigmund Freud.
Sigmund Freud was the man who pioneered psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis focuses on an individuals unconcious thoughts and inherent desires. Freud theorized that there are three fundamental parts of the personality- the id, the ego, and the super ego. The id is completely unconscious and is dicated by the principle pleasure. The principle pleasure demands instant pleasure without any consequences. It is the most primative aspect of the human mind. The ego is the part of the personality that incorporated reality into both the id and the super ego. Through the reality principle, the ego will suppress the id's desires until an appropriate time, while drawing moral lines that the super ego imposes. The super ego is where the human conscience is found. Both unconscious and conscious, this is where personal feelings of what's right and wrong are found. All three parts are important as they are what makes the mind human.During the developmental stages, morality is learned learned from the child's parents, but as the child grows into an adult, personal experiences also play into the superego. Whereas the id craves pleasure, the super ego feels guilt and strives for the approval of authority.
These three componants are foundations for Freud's developmental theories, particulary the Oedipus Complex that occurs during the Phallic Stage. Freud believed that male child is born with sexual feelings for their mothers, but fear the punishment that will come from their fathers through the act of castration. As the boy grows older, he learns to repress the feelings that he has towards his mother by creating a bond with his father. This bond is usually developed by the time the boy is six years old, and causes the boy to seek out other unrelated females as mates.
Freud's theory on the Phallic Stage is an obvious reference to the ancient Greek play, Oedipus Rex. King Oedipus of Thebes was handed a terrible fate by the gods. Before he was even born, a prophecy was given to his mother, Jocasta and his father, Laius, that their son would kill his father and take his mother as his bride. Laius had Oedipus' legs bound and Jocasta left him for dead in the forest. A herdsman found baby Oedipus and gave him to King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth. They adopted him as their own, and kept him ignorant of his true blood line.
The prophecy still found him. Horrified, he fled his home to prevent such a future. On his travels, he fell into an arguement with an old man, and killed him. He then embarked on an adventure where he...

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