Denying His Id: A Character Analysis Of Shakespear

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Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One, Henry IV, Part Two, and Henry V chronicles the personality development of a prince who becomes king. Although he is royalty and the details are fictitious, Henry displays many characteristics common to all men. For example, many of his traits he adopts from roll models or father figures. He emulates Falstaff's id and Henry IV's superego, his ego struggling to mediate between two rulers. We may understand the personality of Shakespeare's Henry V by using Freudian analysis.

Falstaff's character exemplifies the personality component Freud calls the id. According to Freud, the id comprises our biological urges, demanding immediate gratification. Falstaff is a glutton, slob, braggart and liar. Morally, he is reprehensible, as is evident from the description Prince Henry gives: that trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swoln parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manning-tree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? Wherein is he good but to carve a capon and eat it? Wherein cunning but in craft? Wherein villainous but in all things? Wherein worthy but in nothing? (2.4.460-470)

He is so overweight, with the slightest exertion: Falstaff sweats to death And lards the lean earth as he walks along: Were't not for laughing I should pity him. (2.2.111-113) Even though Falstaff has many faults, he still influences Prince Henry.

Freud's theory argues that the id engages in primitive thought processes that are illogical, irrational and fantasy oriented. Falstaff demonstrates this type of thought pattern when learning of the old king's death: "I know the young king is sick for me. Let us take any man's horses; the laws of England are at my commandment. Blessed are they...