The Tempest Essay

1295 words - 6 pages

Freudian Theory suggests that every being is made up of three parts. Firstly, the id, our most primitive selves, contains our basic instinctual drives and acts to make ourselves happy. Secondly, the ego, which is based on the reality principle, is the mediator between the id and the super ego, and helps people determine what can realistically occur, taking into consideration the repercussions of every action. Finally, the super ego is an internalisation of authority, and is thought to originate from parental guidance as they are the first authority figure we are exposed to. Within a civilisation, this super ego restrains natural, Id desires and demands that we succumb to social pressures of ...view middle of the document...

In Caliban, the death drive is also visible. This drive is full of aggression, which Freud says to be an “instinctual disposition in man” (Civilisation and its discontents). Caliban’s inner aggression is much stronger than his super ego, part of which he has learnt from Prospero. This is evident when Caliban speaks of the language Prospero has given him – “You taught me language; and my profit [on it] is I know how to curse.” (311-312). We can see that Caliban has learnt more civilised methods of communication because of Prospero’s arrival on the island, however he uses language only to express the aggression from his Id. By verbally releasing this tension, Caliban will not have any pent up anger inside of him, leading to a calmer mind. This drive also aims to end any strain caused by external stimuli, based on the “Nirvana Principle”. Therefore, the death drive’s main goal is to destroy anything causing said tension (Notes). Caliban recognises that Prospero is the main cause of the stress and tension in his life. The aggressive nature of his death drive therefore wants to kill Prospero, which would lead Caliban closer to Nirvana. Caliban’s ego and his weak super ego decided that the easiest way to do this would be to convince Trinculo and Stephano to help him, by making them feel as if they are in charge. Caliban feels no guilt about this – this shows that his super ego is weak, and his ego has chosen that the easiest and most realistic way from him to get what he wants is to trick others. By satisfying his inner drives, Caliban will ultimately be happier. Caliban does not have a strong moral compass, so his main goal in his actions is to satisfy himself, rather than follow European civilisation’s expectations, which brings him closer to Nirvana and allows him to experience more pleasure than others.
European civilisation has instilled in its community very prominent social mores, leading the residents to have stronger super egos. Prospero comes from Italy, and was once the Duke of Milan. He has been highly exposed to European civilisation, thus he has a strong super ego. However, this is not to say that Prospero does not express his Id – we can still see outward expressions of his aggression through his use of magic. Prospero uses his magic to create the tempest, a violent storm, in an attempt to punish the noblemen who previously wronged him by stealing his rightful place as Duke. Prospero uses his magic to manipulate these enemies. Although Prospero does all of these aggressive acts, he never kills or physically harms any of the European men, as this would go against his super ego. Later, Prospero does feel remorse for his actions, and “abjure[s]” (52. Act 5 Scene 1), giving up his aggression, “disarming him” and allowing him to return to Europe. This...

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