Psychoanalytical criticism in The Jumping Monkey Hill, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Sigmund Freud is the author of the structural model of personality. In this theory Freud explain that each person’s personality is formed of three parts: The ego, the superego and the Id. Therefore psychoanalysis is the process of using what we know about these three parts of someone’s personality to analyze the ways that person behaves.

Psychoanalytical criticism is the literary theory whereby literary critics analyze the actions of the literary characters using the three personality structures that Freud identified. As critics explore the Ego, Superego and Id of characters in a work. They focus on the ways that these parts of the character’s personality influence the work as a whole.

The text “Jumping Monkey Hill” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is about the group of writers in Africa organized by Mr. Edward met at the workshop camp with the aim of compiling one story about the African literature in one oratory. Ujunwa who is one of the writers writes a story about the women are sexually harassed by men in job opportunities and abandon their family the story which she writes reflect her friend encountered when she applies for the job interview in Lagos Nigeria in her story she uses Chioma as the character at the end of the presentation, she reveals her story to relate to her life experience. This enables her to present the evils done to women by men’s patriarchal system.

The elements of psychoanalysis that can be found in the text Jumping Monkey Hill includes the following:-

Id is one of the elements of personality found in the text Jumping Monkey Hill. This is the inner most core of the personality only the structure present at birth and the source of the all psychic energy. It exists totally within the unconscious mind. Examples in the text Ujunwa hates her father and those men who behaves like her father in page 96 she tries to avoid the Intimate relationship with Mr. Edward.

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Another Id in the text is seen in the page 100 the inner desire of Chioma to get employment. She buys the Guardian and scours the employment section and sends out her C.V in brown mails envelops.

Also the Id of Chioma’s father of aggressive we have seen that this father was not aware about his behavior of aggression in page 100 Chioma’s father says “why have you not came since, eh! He asks, pretending to the angry because she knows it is easier for him to be angry with people after you have hurt them”

Ego is another element of personality found in the text. It has direct conduct with reality and functions primarily at a conscious level. It operates according to the reality principles, testing reality to decide and under what conditions the Id can safely discharge its impulses and satisfy its needs. Examples of the Ego found in the text are as follows:-

When Chioma is aware of different challenges faces her when finding a job at the first office, the man is telling her that he will hire her but on the spot he comes behind her reaches over her shoulders to squeeze her breasts. Chioma gets Angry because she does not want to be used as a sexual instrument in order to get a job as she argue that she does not want to loses her dignity for sexual affairs.

Also the other Ego found in the text is that Ujunwa hates Ugandan because of his behavior of supporting or answering every question Edward Campbell asks Ugandan always  stands on the side of Mr. Edward Campbell and ignores other participants on the resort this shows that Chioma is opposite to those people having behavior like that of Ugandan.

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Superego as an element of person’s personality also found in the text. This is a moral aim of the personality. It contains the traditional values and ideals of family and society. These ideas are internalized by the child through identification with his or her parents, who also use reinforcement and punishment to teach the child what is right and what is wrong and how a child should behave.

In the story the Jumping Monkey Hill Superego is seen when Chioma’s mother refuses to go and beg Chioma’s father her husband to turn back home. In page 105 she says “never not in this world I am not going to beg him it is enough”

Also Chioma’s mother refuses to go to untie her husband to the Babalawo (witchdoctor) as she was advised by Aunt Funmi that the yellow woman had tied him up with medicine and she knew a good Babalawo who could untie him. She said “No lam not going” page 105 therefore the act o Chioma’s mothers towards those things is because of superego derived her.

Another superego is seen by looking the Chioma’s decision towards the challenges faced her during the time when she was in search for the job where opposes to be sexually harassed by those who are in power. Chioma’s says “stupid man you cannot respect yourself” she decided to leaves (page 100).

Another superego is seen in page (96) we see Ujunwa being asked a question by Edward. What she did back home in Nigeria. She faked a wide yawn and hoped. He would stop talking. Edward repeated a question and asked whether she has taken a leave from job to attend the workshop. From that point she realizes that it is unpleasant to stay quite so she told him that she left a job Lagos. So this act is compromises by her superego.

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In the text The Jumping Monkey Hill, we see Ujunwa faces difficult problem in her life that result her into conflict here the Oedipus complex arises.

Oedipus complex is the act where by a child looks the parents of the opposite sex as an enemy. Example we observed that Ujunwa loves more her mother and hates her father.

In order for the people being busy from that problems some defenses mechanism arise. Defensive mechanism refers to unconscious strategies that people use to reduce anxiety by considering the source of it from themselves and others. For instance denial

Denial is seen in the text by looking Chioma’s mother who refuses to go and beg Chioma’s father to be back home. Chioma’s mother says “…never in this world, I am not going to beg him! It is enough” (page 100).

Generally Id, Ego and Superego are the basic elements in the psychoanalytic criticism whereby through these structures we can see how the characters personality influences the whole work of art.


Adichie, N. C (2009), The Things Around your neck, United Kingdom: Fourth united publishers

Fieldman, S. R (2011), Understanding psychology 10th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Passer, M. W & Smith, E. R (2011), Psychology: The science of the mind and behavior 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill

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