The Female Conscious and Unconscious

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In E L James’s novel 50 Shades of Grey, Ana falls completely head over heels for a man named Christian Grey. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, and she began to feel herself want to do absolutely anything to please him. As their relationship grows further, he tells her that he does not do the “relationship” thing. He says that has never had a girlfriend, and he does sex in a different type of way. “First, I don’t make love. I fuck . . . hard” (James 96). He shows her his NDA, and he says that she has to sign it before he can do anything that he wants to do to her. After she reads over the agreement, she is in shock that she is even considering agreeing to this. Her inner goddess is in love with Christian Grey and would do anything for him. After reading the contract, she describes, “My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let’s do this . . . otherwise we’ll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company” (James 176). As her inner goddess is showing her what her heart wants to do, her subconscious brings her back to reality. She states, “I stare at myself in the bathroom mirror. You can’t seriously be considering this. My subconscious sounds sane and rational, not her usual snarky self” (James 176).

In relation to other assignments, Ana’s “inner goddess” and subconscious refers to Freud’s tripartite Structure of Consciousness. The first section of his tripartite is a person’s ego, or our conscious self. The second is a person’s id, which is a person’s pleasure center. The third is a person’s superego, which is a person’s morality or how someone differs right from wrong. This part of his tripartite is socially constructed because social norms differ what is considered “right” and what is considered “wrong”. The second and third portions of Freud’s Tripartite are what is depicted in 50 Shades of Grey. Ana’s “inner goddess” is Freud’s “id” and her subconscious is Freud’s “superego”. 

Ana’s “inner goddess” and subconscious are immensely discussed, even to the point of Ana referring to her “inner goddess” 58 times in the entire novel. Ana’s “inner goddess” is the part telling her what her heart wants her to do. Her “inner goddess” is the female’s unconscious or the female’s “id” on Freud’s Tripartite Structure of Consciousness. This is her pleasure center telling her what her heart truly desires. “My inner goddess frowns at me. You can do this, she coaxes—play this sex god at his own game. Can I? Okay” (James 225). Her id is what is telling her to follow her heart in this abnormal, socially-frowned upon situation.

On the other hand, her subconscious is the part reminding her of her morality and the ideas that are socially constructed. It’s her reasoning and how she judges right from wrong. Her subconscious is the female’s conscious or the female’s “superego” in Freud’s Tripartite. Her subconscious goes back and forth, saying “I just don’t know what his game is. What’s he thinking? You slept in his bed all night, and he’s not touched you, Ana. You do the math. My subconscious has reared her ugly, snide hear. I ignore her” (James 69).

 

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Ana’s conscious and unconscious have a very distinct relationship in the novel. While her conscious is telling her what is socially just, her unconscious is telling her what her heart wants to do. She is addicted to Christian Grey and her unconscious or her “inner goddess” will do absolutely anything for her. He is pulling at her heart strings, and as she considers the contract, her conscious is saying to her “this is insane, why are you even considering this?” because BDSM culture is frowned upon in social settings.

Before reading this book and discussing it, I have to admit that I was one of these people too. I thought BDSM culture was all about bondage and domination, which in a lot of ways it is, but it is also an extremely safe environment solely based on pleasure. While the dominant has extreme control, the sub has even greater control because he or she has the power to use his or her “safe words” at any point in time. If the dominant doesn’t stop the action when the safe words are used, he or she will be shunned by the entire BDSM community.

 

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An example of the idea of a conscious versus unconscious in daily life is the scene in One Tree Hill when Haley tells Lucas that she and Nathan have gotten married. Lucas (the blonde), being best friends with Haley for their entire life, sees the way that Nathan (the brunette boyfriend) has taken her over. Take a look at the video here:

 

In this scene, Lucas is demonstrating Haley’s conscious and Haley is demonstrating her own unconscious. After Haley tells Lucas that she and Nathan have gotten married, he looks at her like she is crazy. She has turned into a different person because of Nathan, and Lucas is questioning her morality in this scene, which is an example of her conscious or her “superego”. On the other hand, Haley is completely head over heels in love with Nathan. The way she acts in this scene is an example of her unconscious or her “id” because she is following her heart’s desires. She doesn’t care what people think when it comes to her relationship with Nathan. Her heart was telling her that he was “the one”, so she married him.

 

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After looking at examples of the female conscious and unconscious from 50 Shades of Grey and “One Tree Hill”, which of the two do you think is more important or should “rule over” in the human mind? Is it the conscious, telling the person what is rational and just, or is it the unconscious, telling the person what her heart truly wants to do in the situation?

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