The Id, Ego, and Super-Ego in T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

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T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is inhabited by both a richly developed world and character and one is able to categorize the spaces in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to correspond to Prufrock’s mind. Eliot uses the architecture of the three locations described in the text to explore parts of Prufrock's mind in the Freudian categories of id, ego, and super-ego; the city that is described becomes the Ego, the room where he encounters women his Id and the imagined ocean spaces his Super Ego. Eliot is vague in his suggestion of Prufrock’s audience, only referring to the listener once using “you and I;”(1) however, by analyzing Eliot’s intertextual inclusion of the passage from Dante’s Inferno and Prufock’s…show more content…
These issues- the introversion, the self degradation- are joined by a myriad of other psychological disturbances that are all derived from inability to fulfill sexual desire. The poem becomes an introspective examining of the faults in the mind of a man. By including the quote from Dante's Inferno, and creating a character that is so introverted Eliot suggests that Prufrock is examining his own mind and delving into the most delicate of problems. If one applies the Freudian concepts of id, ego, and super ego to Prufrock’s troubled mind, a clear delineation of three sections is made in the poem. A short explanation of id ego and super ego is necessary in connecting them to the spaces in the text. Freud’s theory stemmed from a need to classify the parts of the ‘mind’. From this stems the organization of personality into three parts all of which are demonstrated in the “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. The id is the impulsively and instinctually driven section of Freud’s personality complex and is based on seeking pleasure. An especially important factor for “Prufrock” is that the id encompasses is sexual desire. It is largely accountable for the unconscious mind. The ego is the most rationalized and outward facing of the personalities that creates a practical approach in

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