A Freudian Psychoanalysis of Grimm’s “The Frog Prince”
In the fairy tale story the ‘Frog Prince’, psychoanalytic emphasis is usually upon children’s fantasies about the prime family situation. But to Sigmund Freud, his approaches to fairy stories such as this mostly concerned with its possible sexual symbol. For a Freudian, the symbolic meaning of the Frog Prince could lie in a young girl’s mixture of fascination and horror over the sexual act. (Weber 1982: 112) In Freud’s theory, the attitude of the princess has something to do with the ‘psyche’ and its relation to sexuality.
In the story, a frog does a favor for a princess. In return, the frog insists that they live afterwards as man and wife. The princess casually agrees to this, and the frog later takes his promise. He insists on sharing her table and bedroom, but when he tries to hop into the bed, enough is enough and she dashes him against a wall. Gratifyingly, the frog then changes into a handsome prince, who has been under the spell of witch, and under these more auspicious circumstances, the princess has no further objection to matrimony.
According to Freud, “the semantic and emotional effect of an impulse that has become conscious can never be so powerful as that of the unconscious one. ” Perhaps this is the reason why the princess agrees promptly with the frog when he speaks of his request. Unconscious of the consequences, she only focuses on her ball. At this point, the princess did not use intellect to think of what to answer. She just realized the gravity of her words when the frog insisted his presence.
According to Freud, “symptoms are never constructed from conscious process” so the princess may not be aware of what she said, “but as soon as the unconscious processes concerned have become conscious, the symptoms must disappear” and the princess comes to realization that she has actually committed herself to the frog. (Rabkin 1995: 53) It is the intelligence as the great unifier and intellect as the only safe recourse, according to Freud. He adds that it is through our intelligence that we are able to control our instincts because ‘our intelligence – the psychological ideal – is the primacy of intelligence.
’ This means our id (instincts) must always be guarded (by ego) and ultimately ruled by our intelligence (the superego) because the intellect does the sublimation of instincts to what is acceptable. Thus, according to Freud, “it is only by application of our highest mental functions, which are bound up with consciousness, that we control all our impulses. ” (Rabkin 1995: 54-55) In general, Freud’s principle which manifests in his examples is that ‘in every case the forgetting turned out to be based on a motive of unpleasure. ’ Therefore, theories of neurosis and dreaming can be associated with the theory of slips.
Slips of the tongue are observed among normal people even to the “ill”. (Freud 1991: 113) For instance, in the story ‘The Frog Prince’, the princess has had a slip of the tongue when she agreed to the condition of the frog. She forgets about it because she is not at ease without her ball back. As in this lines, ‘The princess thought, “What is this stupid frog trying to say? After all, he does have to stay here in the water. But still, maybe he can get my ball. I’ll go ahead and say yes,” and she said aloud, “Yes, for all I care. Just bring me back my golden ball, and I’ll promise everything.
” The frog stuck his head under the water and dove to the bottom. He returned a short time later with the golden ball in his mouth and threw it onto the land. When the princess saw her ball once again, she rushed toward it, picked it up, and was so happy to have it in her hand again, that she could think of nothing else than to run home with it. ’ In this example, the princess is still unaware that she is already caught by the frog. This is what Freud explains as he was very keen of the effect of a memory surpassing that of an actual event.
This effect is in the form of ‘traumas’ or ‘stresses’ which is later experienced by the princess because of the persistence of the frog, which in her memory at that point is ugly and cold. Clearly in the story, as Freud concludes, making a slip of the tongue is an offense. As he explains: “When someone charged with an offense confesses his deed to the judge, the judge believes his confession; but if he denies it, the judge does not believe him…’Are you a judge then? And is a person who has made a slip of the tongue brought up before you on a charge? So making a sip of a tongue is an offence, is it?
”(Freud 1991: 94) It appears when the King confronts her daughter and insists her to fulfill her own words. As it is narrated, The king saw that her heart was pounding and asked, “Why are you afraid? ” “There is a disgusting frog out there,” she said, “who got my golden ball out of the water. I promised him that he could be my companion, but I didn’t think that he could leave his water, but now he is just outside the door and wants to come in. ” Just then there came a second knock at the door, and a voice called out: Youngest daughter of the king, Open up the door for me, Don’t you know what yesterday,
You said to me down by the well? Youngest daughter of the king, Open up the door for me, The king said, “What you have promised, you must keep. Go and let the frog in. ” She obeyed, and the frog hopped in, then followed her up to her chair. The King believes that the princess made an agreement with the frog. Whenever the princess refuses, the King disagrees and orders her daughter to keep her promise. This proves the earlier claim by Freud that by mere slip of the tongue, the princess committed a grave offense against herself. At this point, the princess is in anxiety. This is one emotion Freud really understood.
In the analysis of the story, this is the part where sexuality is highlighted. According to Freud, neurotic anxiety arose from sexual sources. (Weber 1982: 34) The princess is anxious because it turns out that the King is favoring the frog for her, even to the point that the King agrees with him to lie with her in bed. On her part, the princess of course is dreaming of marrying, lying in bed with a handsome man, but not a frog. As in the next scene, ‘After she had sat down again, he called out, “Lift me up onto your chair and let me sit next to you. ” The princess did not want to, but the king commanded her to do it.
When the frog was seated next to her he said, “Now push your golden plate closer. I want to eat from it. ” She had to do this as well. When he had eaten all he wanted, he said, “Now I am tired and want to sleep. Take me to your room, make your bed, so that we can lie in it together. ” The princess was horrified when she heard that. She was afraid of the cold frog and did not dare to even touch him, and yet he was supposed to lie next to her in her bed; she began to cry and didn’t want to at all. Then the king became angry and commanded her to do what she had promised.
There was no helping it; she had to do what her father wanted, but in her heart she was bitterly angry. She picked up the frog with two fingers, carried him to her room, and climbed into bed, but instead of laying him next to herself, she threw him bang! against the wall. “Now you will leave me in peace, you ugly frog! ” Here, sexuality is converted to anxiety. As Freud explains, neurosis has a physical basis in sexual inhibition. The princess’ sexual desire is to have a man, a handsome prince as a husband but this is suppressed by the presence of the frog and the King’s command.
The princess’ anger manifests her sexual instinct, as a woman wanted a man. Now, this anxiety signals danger for the ego, because the princess’ consciousness, seeing the ugly frog, rebels. This in effect leads her to act violently. After dinner, in the bedroom and away from her father’s sight, the princess’ disgust takes over. On the other hand, the human-like status of the prince is signaled by his ability to speak, even before he turns back from being a frog. The princess’ passion, although violent at first, her passion in the bedroom releases him from the curse.
As it is narrated, “But when the frog came down onto the bed, he was a handsome young prince, and he was her dear companion, and she held him in esteem as she had promised, and they fell asleep together with pleasure. ” The effect is clear. The transformation reveals that the consciously demanding frog was all along unconsciously beautiful, loving, and kind. This in the end releases the princess from her anxiety. In relation to Freud’s theory of sexuality, symbolisms related to dreams and sex is associated with the story.
Ernest Jones, a follower and biographer of Freud, says this is a story of a virgin overcoming her sexual fear. Joseph Campbell, a follower of the Jungian theory interprets the frog as symbolizing the unconscious which may be frightening at first sight but, when absorbed by the conscious ego, reveals the total psyche that it is actually beautiful and true. It may be concluded that the psyche transformation is brought about by sexual embrace proceeding to the intermingling of mutual penetration of the masculine and feminine sides of the psyche.
(Tucker 1981: 43) It is true then that the state of unconsciousness is a mental or psychic process of which a person is not aware but which have a powerful effect on one’s attitudes and behavior. Especially in Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, it involves processes activated by desires, fears, or memories which are unacceptable to the conscious mind. It is therefore the concept of ID. Once unconscious is possible, there must be investigation on how repression creates it. In this stage comes the concept of EGO which regulates the instincts.
In the story, the Frog Prince is repressed by an angry woman. In this historic phase, repression is a matter of the relative power of one individual over an individual’s consciousness, following a certain moral which is attained in the end when the frog turns into a prince and conforms to the desires of the princess. This is when the supremacy of the SUPEREGO manifests. Freud is considered the father of psychological critics as his theories are highly regarded to gain insight into the literary text and to reveal a neurosis of its author as manifested in the text.
Freudian ideas as the personal unconscious, the symbolic nature of dreams, the conflict between id, ego, and superego, the sexual nature on childhood behavior of the infantile sexuality, or the impact of traumatic experiences are among his inventions beneficial to psychology. Mainly, they are concerned with character analysis, especially hidden motivation. Thus, Freudian psychoanalysis can provide fruitful commentary on literature and the writers who create it. (Rotmann 2002: 166) In the Frog Prince, the princess’ sexuality is confined in a dream with her encounter of the frog.
Her desires to have an ideal partner are suppressed by the presence of the frog while the frog is suppressed by her anger. The theme of the struggle to achieve sexual fulfillment to both is geared towards adolescent. There is an existing conflict among the id, ego and superego of the princess because of the frog-state of the prince, and this causes her anxiety. Sexuality as the prime source of neurotic anxiety fit in with seduction, as what the frog may have been doing to win the princess and turn to his human form again. Freud established to retain the concept that fantasies of sexual gratification stems from early childhood.
This observation had led Freud to “the fact of infantile sexuality,” the notion that ‘human sexual life does not begin only with puberty. ” (Weber 1982: 132) In the case of the princess, sex is somehow shameful if the unconscious is still unexplored. In the story, the frog represents the unconscious which transforms to a beautiful and lovely prince as it opens the consciousness. At this point, the princess freely accepts sex as it is, as Freud insists. References Ackroyd, E (2010) The Frog Prince story. Retrieved 23 May 2010 from <http://www. experiencefestival. com/the_frog_prince_story>. Bettelheim, B.
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