Doctor Faustus (Marlowe)

Id, Ego and Superego: The Tempest and Doctor Faustus College

The most compelling characters in modern literature and plays are the ones whose motivations tend to be complex, thus demand a deeper analysis of which part of their conscious their decisions arise from – the impulsive Id, the balancing Ego, or the idealized Superego. The central characters of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare’s The Tempest when studied parallel to each other seem to share similar traits, yet both meet contrastingly differing ends. This outcome is solely decided by the choices they make in face of their respective struggles and whichever side of their conscious emerges victorious.

In Freudian theory, the Id is the part of human conscious which contains all the base desires and ambitions. It operates on a pleasure principle that if let free, completely assumes control of the mind and cause the characters to make choices that seek delight without any rationale. While Faustus’ motivations are clearly seen to be led by his Id for nearly the entirety of the play, The Tempest’s Prospero makes decisions that seem sensible, muddying the boundaries that lie between the Id and the Ego.

Faustus, who by profession begins as a doctor in Wittenberg, dismisses academic disciplines and eschews religion as means of...

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