The Oedipal complex can still be found today in many forms of media, including The Simpsons television series. “Tennis the Menace” clearly reflects the Oedipal archetype which makes this piece appropriate for analyzing. The episode makes two clear connections ??? one to the play “Oedipus the King” and the other to Freud’s theories. This specific episode recreates scenes that are similar to the play. It follows the same general plot in the pattern of the son wanting to replace his father in order to be with his mother. The characters Bart, Homer and Marge are similar to Oedipus, Laius and Jocasta respectively.
Bart is a mould of Oedipus. He feels the need to replace his dad so he can fulfill his desires to be with his mother. He holds his mother’s hand and walks away saying, “The lady has spoken,” which is similar to how Oedipus took his mother’s hand in marriage. Homer, witnessing this, feels defensive of Marge similar to how Laius felt threatened that his son was destined to kill him and marry Jocasta. Lastly, Marge is quite naive since she fails to realize that Homer is troubled by the fact of losing her rather than losing a game to her. This is accurate to how Jocasta was blinded throughout the play.
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The pattern these characters follow proves why the Oedipal archetype is applicable to this media piece. The Psychoanalytic Perspective developed by Sigmund Freud is divided into two parts: the three mental structures and the Oedipus and Electra complexes. Bart goes through the subconscious stage of sexual desire for his mother and wants to replace his father. Lisa also reflects the Electra complex since she retaliates against her mother and wants to be loved by her father. We can assume that both children have gone through the stages of id, ego and superego, so according to Freud, they have repressed their feelings into the subconscious.
This episode can be considered both indicative and reflective of the archetype. It is indicative because it suggests that the archetype exists in even innocent situations. According to Oedipus and Freud, Bart not only wanted to help his mother, but he desired her sexually. However, it is also reflective of how archetypes can change over time. In this episode, the producers intended to make fun of the Oedipal archetype, demonstrating to its viewers that the Oedipus complex does not apply today.
Satire is demonstrated through this episode through exaggeration, puns, stereotypes, symbolism and bias. Homer’s dream is exaggerated when he dreams that Marge and Bart are together and that he is a “trophy husband. ” The term “trophy husband” is used because it means “best husband” but in this case, Homer is just an object. There is a double meaning. Homer is a stereotypical character who is unintelligent and gullible, so the audience does not take him seriously. The symbol that reoccurs in the episode is the tennis partner. The tennis partner represents a sexual partner.
Lastly, bias reinforces the archetype of everyone assuming they are getting replaced for someone better. This is demonstrated throughout the episode when each character replaces another character for someone of a higher tennis skill level. The combination of these elements supports the outline of the archetype. This archetype is universal because it is a well known Greek tragedy. Anyone who sees this and has background knowledge of Oedipus and the story will understand the connection. The theories of Freud will enhance the understanding.