AP/UCONN Lit and Comp
November 6, 2013
Freudianism in The Metamorphosis
Freudianism is defined by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis on the psyche as consisting of three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The main character, Gregor, of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis exemplifies these three parts of the psyche. The id, “the seat of human instincts and the source of all physical desires”, refers to Gregor Samsa’s secret sexual desire for both his sister and his mother (Fiero, 26). The ego, “the administrator of the id” or “the ‘manager’ that attempts to adapt the needs of the id to the real world” refers to his attempts to feed his urges, but having to hold back in order to conform to society (Fiero, 26). Finally, the superego, “the moral monitor commonly called the ‘conscience’”, refers to Gregor’s ethics and their influences (Fiero, 26).
Gregor’s true struggle is because of the repression of his feelings towards his sister and his mother, which define the id of Freudianism. The id refers to the unconscious; the internal feelings humans first have in order to satisfy their urges. These feelings only correlate to the self, which is “the instinctual pool from which the ego and superego evolve” (Askay and Farquhar, 76). Throughout the book, Gregor’s sister is the only one who cares for him when he is turned into an insect. His father shoos him away with a cane and while making hissing noises, and his mother runs away in disgust. His sister brings him food, cleans his room, and takes care of him. She is the one he feels the strongest connection to in his family. He also loves that she plays the violin. He finds her musical talent incredibly beautiful, just like her; “for no one here appreciated her playing the way he would appreciate it” (Kafka, 46). Gregor is secretly sexually attracted to his sister, which shows when he thinks about how he would comfort her if she were to get upset “...and Gregor would raise...
Cited: Askay, Richard, and Jensen Farquhar. Of Philosophers and Madmen. New York: Editions Rodopi B.V., 1994. Print.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. New York, Bantam Dell, 1915. Print.
Velleman, David J. “A Rational Superego.” The Philosophical Review. Duke University Press, 1999. 529-558. Print.
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