How do Freud's id, ego and the super ego relate to Montag (character lens) in Fahrenheit 451?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I absolutely LOVE this question, because it should cause any reader to think critically about the psychoanalysis of Montag's character in Fahrenheit 451.  Through the analysis of Montag's character, one can certainly find examples of Freud's Id, Ego, and Super-Ego. 

Let's explore what each one of these parts of the psyche are before delving into the specific character of Montag.  In my opinion, the Id is the easiest part of Freud's psyche idea to understand.  The Id is the instinct.  It is the part of the psyche that makes the body and mind act on instinctual urges.  (Eating, drinking, finding shelter, having sex, ... these all have to do with the Id.)  It is considered (kind of) the "lowest" part of the psyche in that it is the most animal-like.  The Super-Ego is the voice of morality and critical thinking in the psyche.  These are generally based on up-bringing and what we are "taught" when we are little.  It is the conscience, per se.  It is considered (kind of) the "highest" part of the psyche in that it is the most spiritual.  The Ego is simply the part of the psyche that helps us organize and decide between the Id and the Super-Ego.  As a result it is neither "high" nor "low," but located in the middle.  The Ego is the voice of reality and the decider of things that will benefit the individual and not harm him or her.  It depends less on spirit than it does on thought.

First, let's take a look at the instinctual Id.  Montag represents the Id in Freud's psychoanalysis when he acts on instinct.  In short, it is always when he acts before he thinks.  For example, when he (out of curiosity) take the book from the old woman's home.  I would also consider it an example of the Id when Montag confesses to his wife and reads to her AND when he reads "Dover Beach" to her friends.  All instinct here.  Mildred is his wife and supposed to be on his side.  Nope.  Finally, killing Beatty (the voice of reality and the ego) and the Mechanical Hound with the flamethrower are absolutely the Id.  These are animal instincts to kill those contrary to his desires. 

All of Montag's true considering and thinking and figuring out reality represent his Ego, according to Freud.  Montag is acting on his Ego when he talks to Clarisse about books and when he talks to Chief Beatty in order to learn the true origin of book burning.  In fact, in my opinion, Beatty IS the ego.  He is always trying to be realistic through proof, such as when he tries to reveal conflicting info in literature.  What is interesting is that once Montag kills both Beatty and the Hound, he has killed the Ego & the Id ... and the only thing left is his conscience:  the Super-Ego!

Any time that Montag is considering "right" and "wrong," therefore relying on conscience, he is exhibiting his Super-Ego according to Freud.  Therefore, when he is disgusted with Mildred in her reaction to Clarisse's death, that is a good example.  In reality, the voice in the "right" is ALWAYS Faber (who kind of IS the Super-Ego of the book).  Faber, the kind of conscience of Montag, talks about why books should be valued:  it allows people to think and act on their OWN thoughts, not those generated for them. 

They want to know what I do with my time. I tell them that sometimes I just sit and think. But I won't tell them what. I've got them running. And sometimes, I tell them, I like to put my head back, like this, and let the rain fall in my mouth. It tastes just like wine. Have you ever tried it?

Montag, himself, is a victory in his Super-Ego when he escapes to live with the social outcasts (the teachers and writers and thinkers and philosophers) because they are truly "right" while the materialistic society (which is being destroyed anyway) is truly "wrong."

So as you can see, we can use even more than the character of Montag to show examples of Freud's psyche ideas:  the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego.  The Mechanical Hound can be the Id (instinct).  Beatty is always the Ego (realism).  And after Montag kills those two, ... he is left with the Super Ego of his own, and the symbolic character of Faber. 

syedshahab | Student

Hello Have a nice day Below is your answer.

The Novel "Fahrenheit 451"  by Ray Bradburry is about a man whose name is Montag.Montag is a fire man whose job is to create fire.Freud Believes that our personality can be divided into three parts 1.ID 2.Ego 3.Super Ego.Freud Believes the Id is all about psychic Energy and Id also represents  that what we want and desires etc.The Ego is the component which all about dealing with the realities ,pleasures and needs of a person but in not a harmful way.The last one Super Ego is all about the moral values which a person learns from the society and parents.We believe that a psychoanalytical  criticism must be applied to the 'Fahrenheit 451' and its Characters  Guy Montag,Mildred Montag and rest of the society.

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