Ego Identity in The Cloven Viscount

Essay by twinkle82University, Bachelor'sA+, May 2004

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Whenever the Viscount was split in half, his "good side" was separated from his "bad side." In Freudian terms, his id and superego became independent of one another. The "Bad One" seeks only self-gratification, while the "Good One" takes self-sacrificing societal ideals of behavior to an extreme. Intensifying the behaviors of the "Good One" and the "Bad One" even more is that the Viscount no longer has an ego to mediate between the two personality constructs, since they are now virtually independent of one another.

Upon coming back from the Crusades, the "Bad One" experiences a dissatisfaction with life, but he also feels that he has never viewed life so clearly before. The reason he seems to view life so clearly is because he feels no societal pressures, since he has lost his superego. He no longer has to be concerned about pleasing his superego or society; he can act out of pure instinct.

Because he no longer cares about societal pressures, he no longer concerns himself with what others think of him. It doesn't matter that the townspeople think ill of him and speak poorly of him behind his back. His only concern is that they obey him, which, out of fear, they do. Since he acts only according to instinct, he causes much pain and suffering without any feelings of regret or guilt. One of his first actions after coming back is killing his father's trained bird with basically his own hands, and, therefore, indirectly causing his father's death. But does he, the id, care? Of course not! He goes around cutting living things in half, hanging people and cats, burning houses, and giving his nephew poisonous mushrooms because he feels like it. He makes no excuses or rationalizations for his actions because, without the superego, he has...