Divergent written by Veronica Roth presents a few ideas within that connect to Freud’s theory of the unconscious. A few things about the book you should know before I dive in; Tris, a 16 year-old girl from the faction Abnegation, finds herself taking a test which discloses that she is a divergent, a person who belongs to more than one faction. Essentially, the five factions all represent different personalities:
That in itself to me connects directly to the unconscious due to Tris having these different “gifts,” if you will. Tris chose to change to the Dauntless faction, while she was indeed also part Abnegation and Erudite. I hope this is enough background info for you people unfamiliar with such a popular series.
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into Freud’s idea. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory revolves heavily around the unconscious mind. A lot of times sexuality or sexual drive is the undertone of one’s unconscious, but in Tris’s case it also has a lot to do with dreams, too.
The first scene we will be analyzing occurs when Four allows Tris to go with him into his own mind. This showed Four’s vulnerability, letting Tris see his four fears; the fears that were deepest in his own mind. As the couple went into his fears, Four used his own fear landscape to help Tris practice for her simulation. If she didn’t practice doing things as a Dauntless would, her divergence would be exposed.
Fear One: Heights
Fear Two: Confinement
Fear Three: Killing an Innocent
Fear Four: His Father, Marcus
The way Freud would describe the connection between this scene and the Freudian theory is called dream work; Freud’s idea that one’s personal lifetime events intertwine with a dream. Dreams usually don’t have things extremely black and white, you have to almost read in between the lines to understand the true meaning. In Four’s last fear, he and Tris find themselves in a room with his Father, Marcus Eaton. Marcus used to be abusive to Four, so when Four was sixteen and was no longer trapped in Abnegation, Dauntless called his name. I bring this certain fear up because as Tris was standing in the room with Four and Marcus, she had to look deeper in the situation and realize what Four was truly afraid of: his father’s abuse.
The second scene I believe fits well alongside Freud’s theory of the unconscious is when Tris and Four physically fight. In this scene, Four has been put under a simulation, therefore it doesn’t register with him that Tris is not an enemy when he starts fighting her. While the couple beats on one another, Tris continuously attempts to wake Four up from the simulation… doesn’t work. At the very end of the scene, Tris points a gun at Four, then quickly and selflessly changes her mind by pointing the gun at her head. Four grabs the gun, and looking away, almost pulls the trigger. Yes, that resorts back right to one of his fears; killing of an innocent. By forcing Four to look her in the eyes, Tris is able to wake him up from the simulation and tells him she loves him. How cute.
This situation ties directly into the idea of the dream work. The term displacement is represented by the symbolism of Four’s fear. Tris’s unconscious lead her to selflessly point the gun at herself, while not even thinking that she herself is an innocent. The foreshadowing that occurs during the previous scene and this scene allow the Divergent readers to see the connection between the unconscious.