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A Freudian Interpretation of the Different Personalitiesof the Three Brothers in the Sound and the Fury

Author ZhangZhongDe
Tutor ZhangShengTing
School Northwest Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Tripartite Personality Structure repression over-soul romantic distortion conflict
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Since the1920s, Faulkner has gradually become a unique literary giant in the literary history. His distinctapplication of language skills, his exquisite construction of the novels and his reflection of the “postage stamp”place with the characteristics of the South are known, accepted and appreciated by the readers and the critics athome and abroad. The Sound and the Fury was one of his most favorite novels. In the novel, the repetition of thestream of consciousness delicately describes the characters’ inner world, shows their distinct personality andhighlights the creation of their characters who are “more philosophical than geographical”, which reveals theirsound and fury.Faulkner dissects the people’s inner world with a pen instead of a knife while Sigmund Freud walks into thepsychological world of the people through his clinical trials. Two masters dissect and analyze the human naturefrom different aspects in the same times.Freud believed that one’s personality comprises Id, Ego and Super-ego. Id contains the psychic contentrelated to the primitive instincts of the body as well as all psychic material that is inherited and present at birth,finding expression through pleasure principle. Ego is derived from Id but shaped and modified by the necessitiesof the external world and operates with the reality principle, supervising Id and gratifying Super-ego to somedegree. Super-ego dwells on the highest level of the personality structure. Primitive images are the cornerstonesof Super-ego. It is derived from Ego, doing things with the principle of conscience. Super-ego guides Ego andrestricts Id. Freud thought that the formation of the personality structure is a process with conflicts and strugglesmoving from a lower grade to a higher one.It has become a trend that the personality structure is introduced into psychological criticism; however, theadoption of the analysis of the characters with it in The Sound and the Fury is rare. An American scholar,Catherine (2000) alludes to Jason’s Ego and super-ego on the basis of the analysis of Jason’s inner conflicts withOedipus complex and trauma. Chinese, Yang Feng (2005), Zhuzheng Wu and WuSheng (2006) think that Benjy,Quentin, and Jason, are the representatives of Id, Ego and Super-ego, respectively. But Zhong Shumin(2007)believes that Jason is the representative of the Ego. Based on the context, the thesis argues that Benjy, Quentinand Jason stand for a person’s stage in his thinking maturity from childhood to youth to adulthood. They havetheir own Id, Ego and super-ego with Oedipus Complex and trauma as well as the forms of their expression,which comports with Freud’s theory of personality structure.This thesis is composed of five chapters. Chapter one gives an introduction to William Faulkner and his works in which the research purpose is explained. Chapter two covers the research state of The Sound and theFury abroad and at home. Chapter three describes Freud’s Tripartite Personality Structure and its relationshipwith the Oedipus Complex and trauma.Chapter four is the core of the thesis. On the basis of the context, this thesis discusses the characteristics ofthe three brothers’ Id, Ego and Super-ego. The conclusion is drawn as following: although Benjy is an idiot, hisnarrative is reflected through a string of events around him in which each one goes from beginning to the end,which wholly shows his Id, Ego and Super-ego. Benjy’s Id is shown in his drinking and his violation of thefemale students; his Ego and Super-ego are reflected in his continually looking for a quarter and in his sensingthe feelings of the Caddy’s guilt as well as Damuddy’s death. Benjy’s Id is objectively repressed. His Ego issilent and his Super-ego is over-soul.Quentin’s Id is derived from his parents’ genetics as well as his father’s influence. Mr. Compson’spessimistic attitudes towards time and his indifference to the lady’s virginity have a deep impact upon him. Hecan’t extricate himself from his obsession with Caddy, which is the source of the balance lost in his personality.Quentin’s Ego is revealed in the relationship between the external world, the Id and the Super-ego. Quentin’sSouthern Knight-style Super-ego is completely divorced from reality, which appears rigid; his Ego displays aromantic tragedy, guiding him to death.Jason’s Id mainly comes from his mother’s heredity. Jason appears selfish, indifferent and irresponsible justlike his mother. Jason was rejected by his families when he was young, which psychologically left him endlesstrauma. So he became narcissistic and acted irrationally. Jason’s Id is traumatized and his Super-ego is distorted.Chapter five further points out that the roots of the conflicts in the novel are closely connected with thecharacters’ times in the novel and the writers’ writing status as well as the writers’ purposes of creation. Chaptersix concludes: the study shows that the exploration of the characters’ inner world with the theory of Freud’s threepersonality structure with regards to the Oedipus Complex and trauma should be fully based on thecomprehensive, dynamic understanding of the characters’ surroundings, their expression and their behaviors. Atthe same time, there is a close connection between the personality conflicts of the characters and the characters’backgrounds and the writers themselves.

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