Literature is a wide field in which it includes many genres, subjects and styles. A literature work can consist of many subtitles, also such as historical and scientific knowledge as well as critic, satire and etc. Many of the literature works that we assume as successful in fact deal with more than only one subtext. Either a historical reference or a scientific knowledge has been placed in it. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or The Portrait of Dorian Gray are only two of the above mentioned sub texted works.
Both Robert Louis Stevenson and Oscar Wilde witness Freud’s life and studies and they make use of his theories in their successful works. Freud’s personality theory in which includes three drives of our conscious is obviously observed in both works. Sigmund Freud, a famous neurologist living between 1856 and 1939, worked over psychoanalysis during his life and separated the human conscious into three drives which are controlling and shaping our behaviours from birth to death. Freud believed that personality has three structure; the id, the ego and the superego. Superficially, Freud’s functional discrimination seems to repeat Plato’s. The id is the agency of bodily desires, the ego the mediating function, and the super-ego has the care of moral prohibitions. ”(Rieff173) The id is Freudian structure of personality that consists of instincts, which are an individual’s reservoir of psychic energy. We are born with the id and it residues within the unconsciousness. It functions according to pleasure principle in that it seeks to maximize pleasure and minimize any discomfort. It is illogical and in search of only pleasure without thought to what is practical, safe or moral.
The ego, unlike the id, functions according to the reality principle and represents reality to a considerable extent, reason. “In other words, the double becomes this outward manifestation of the unconscious. ”(Guedes30) This period begins in the third year of life and during the toddlerhood, particularly during toilet training; children come to realize that they are individuals. The ego is called the executive branch of personality because it uses reasoning to make decisions. The id and the ego have no morality. They never take into account whether something is right or wrong.
The last and moral part of the psyche is the superego. We begin to learn about the rules, norms and values of society at the age of five of six and the children internalize these rules to form the superego with functions as a very strict conscience. “The superego corresponds in many respects to conscience and from it are derived religion, morality and a social sense. ”(Riviere644) In a healthy person, Freud asserts that the ego is the strongest one so that it can satisfy the needs of id, not upset the superego and still take into consideration the reality of every situation.
It is not an easy job by any means, since if the id gets too strong ,impulses and self-gratification take over the person’s life and if the superego becomes too strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals and be unbending in his or her interactions with the world. The case of the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book can be shown as examples to somehow excessiveness of Freudian personality theory. Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde with Stevenson’s sayings; Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of me. (Stevenson49) The two characters of the novella are but one; one body two conflicting characters, the good and evil as we can count as the representatives of the id and superego according to the theory of Freud. While Dr. Jekyll is behaving totally with his superego that has all the values of society, Mr.
Hyde represents the id, evil unleashed and does all the criminal acts; even commit murder without fear of any apprehension. He is constantly fighting with himself between god and evil. He drinks a potion which he made that transforms him into his evil side, Edward Hyde. Dr. Jekyll holds in his cruel emotions and is a friendly person but when he turns into Mr. Hyde, he becomes a demon and lets out all his emotions. Dr. Jekyll who seems to have total control over himself is the representative of superego, but when he drinks potion voluntarily, he turns into Mr. Hyde, the id, who is a cruel person.
Another example for Freudian theory in literature is Oscar Wilde’s successful novel of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The characters of this book may be used as prime examples to explain Freudian concept of the ego, the superego and the id basically. Lord Henry a character who is constantly trying to encourage Dorian to engage in acts of ever-greater decadence, whereas it is Basil Hallward who acts as a superego who is trying to restrain Dorian and keep him innocent and pure. Even when he is said about Dorian’s sins, he cannot believe them;“Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face.
It cannot be concealed…If a wretched man has vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even” ( Wilde172). In a sense, Dorian is in a battle between these two opposing forces in the most of the book. What is interesting about Dorian is that he himself suffers massive internal conflicts as he debates whether to do the ‘right’ thing or continue on his hedonistic path. In general, the entire novel presents Dorian as a character who is caught between the two forces of the id and the superego.
As the novel proceeds, we may easily observe the development especially of the character of Dorian Gray. His ability to surrender to pure desire and impulse without regard to consequences represents Freud’s concepts of the id. It is this ability to keep him aware of his development but also to feel comfortable. “The idea was that man has a part of the mind that he is aware of which he more or less can control, but also another level of consciousness. This unconscious part of the mind holds instincts, urges and impulses, which would be too uncomfortable for us to acknowledge. (Eklund 6)After his hedonistic path reveals, he behaves like consciously unconscious. He does this for example after finding out about the death of Sibyl and then again at the end of the novel when he resolves to destroy the portrait and begin his life new. This is the point that the two abovementioned books separate from each other. While the characters of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde does not show any development throughout the novel, Dorian Gray, the protagonist of Wilde’s book, has a process in his characters. The battle he begins in the beginning of the novel results at his unpreventable id.
With the help of this comparison of the examples, we may conclude that our conscious can show changes during time or time to time in contrast to Freud’s assertion about the analogy of conscious with person’s biology and basic needs only. Nevertheless, this example of character development in the light of personality theory is based on another theory by Erik Erikson, which takes root from Freudian, in which it advocates conscious does not stuck in a stage and may develop or change with the help of physical environment of person. Ultimately, Freud’s theory of personality is exemplified by many works in literature.
Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the best examples of this theory at a basic level. While the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde shows us the stability of the characters after their conscious are shaped once, owing to Dorian Gray, we can observe the development of a conscious with the effect of environment. According as the books are still among the most famous and significant works, their currentness and differentiae are non issuable.