Analyze The Egoist as a psychological novel.

The Egoist can be analyzed as a psychological novel through Sigmund Freud’s concepts of id and ego or with Carl Jung’s archetypes.

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One could touch on how Sir Willoughby Patterne, the main character of George Meredith ’s nineteenth-century novel, connects to Sigmund Freud’s concepts of id and ego. It’s possible to say that Willoughby is overwhelmingly guided by his id. He’s propelled by the aspect of his personality that runs on desires...

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One could touch on how Sir Willoughby Patterne, the main character of George Meredith’s nineteenth-century novel, connects to Sigmund Freud’s concepts of id and ego. It’s possible to say that Willoughby is overwhelmingly guided by his id. He’s propelled by the aspect of his personality that runs on desires and urges. His id-centric being accounts for his aggressive pursuit of women and his grandiose sense of self.

A person develops an ego to check their id. The ego, in Freud’s view, forces a person to moderate their impulses so that they can function in society at large. The “showers of adulation” that “drenched” Willoughby distort his reality. “It is easier to be a wooden idol than one in the flesh,” quips the omniscient narrator. Using Freud’s psychological theories, one might claim that Willoughby’s pompous story is a result of his indulgent aristocratic environment. He’s been shielded from his true self and the real world, which has hampered his ego’s arrival.

Another way to analyze The Egoist as a psychological novel is through the lens of Carl Jung. Jung believed in archetypes. There are patterns and roles that humans are destined to repeat. The idea of archetypes might be why Willoughby feels entitled to marry Clara. In turn, archetypes could be why Clara resists marrying Willoughby. Clara does not want to be the passive archetypal female to Willoughby’s domineering archetypal male. Clara wants to follow in the footsteps of another kind of archetypal female—one with agency—which is what Constantia Durham represents.

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