Oedipal Archetype in Tennis the Menace

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The Oedipal complex can still be found today in many forms of media, including The Simpsons television series. “Tennis the Menace” clearly reflects the Oedipal archetype which makes this piece appropriate for analyzing. The episode makes two clear connections – one to the play “Oedipus the King” and the other to Freud’s theories.

This specific episode recreates scenes that are similar to the play. It follows the same general plot in the pattern of the son wanting to replace his father in order to be with his mother. The characters Bart, Homer and Marge are similar to Oedipus, Laius and Jocasta respectively. Bart is a mould of Oedipus. He feels the need to replace his dad so he can fulfill his desires to be with his mother. He holds his mother’s hand and walks away saying, “The lady has spoken,” which is similar to how Oedipus took his mother’s hand in marriage. Homer, witnessing this, feels defensive of Marge similar to how Laius felt threatened that his son was destined to kill him and marry Jocasta. Lastly, Marge is quite naive since she fails to realize that Homer is troubled by the fact of losing her rather than losing a game to her. This is accurate to how Jocasta was blinded throughout the play. The pattern these characters follow proves why the Oedipal archetype is applicable to this media piece.

The Psychoanalytic Perspective developed by Sigmund Freud is divided into two parts: the three mental structures and the Oedipus and Electra complexes. Bart goes through the subconscious stage of sexual desire for his mother and wants to replace his father. Lisa also reflects the Electra complex since she retaliates against her mother and wants to be loved by her father. We can assume that both children have gone through the stages of id, ego and superego, so according to Freud, they have repressed their feelings into the subconscious.

This episode can be considered both indicative and reflective of the archetype. It is indicative because it suggests...
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