Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud has had a lasting impact on the way that we analyze literature. In particular Freud’s theories on the Death Instinct, Pleasure Principle, and Denial in fantasy can be used to analyze and illustrate the striking similarities and attempt to find reasoning behind the excess of the 1980’s and 1920’s, which are symbolized by The Great Gatsby (1925’s) and the song “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction (1985).   Both generations have a staggering amount of similarities that are illustrated in both pieces, and also demonstrate the theories of Freud.
            Both the 1920’s and 1980’s were generations living in the aftermath of two wars that changed the American perception on humanity and their government’s intentions for war.   The 1920’s and the 1980’s responded to their confusion with a culture that has since been construed as a hedonistic, materialistic, greedy, and pleasure driven. The vices of both generations are illustrated in The Great Gatsby and “Jane Says” which use substances abuse to illustrate their cultures obsession with excess. In The Great Gatsby excess is illustrated when the narrator describes the life of Daisy when he states, “They moved with a fast crowd, all of them young and rich and wild,” this symbolizes the feeling of the 1920’s and the idealism that was created around money and how materialism and money eventually became an addiction. The theme of excess is also symbolized in “Jane Says” when the singer writes, “She gets her dinner there, she pulls her dinner from her pocket” (34-35), the writers uses the word dinner to symbolize drugs and how the drugs became a necessity in her life.
The excess of both generations, symbolized by The Great Gatsby and “Jane Says”, can be explained by Freud’s Pleasure Principle theory which states that “the desire for immediate gratification versus the deferral of that gratification” (4.3), Freud’s also states that the “pleasure principle drives one to seek pleasure and to avoid pain” (4.4).