I have already talked about Tony Soprano on these posts, but this week I want to focus on him by assessing him from a psychoanalytical perspective, i.e. Freud. The most prominent and significant way in which Tony inhabits Freud’s theory of man is in the way Tony refuses to ever change, despite an expressed desire to do so. Freud believed that a person’s personality and attitude was determined by the age of five. After that, a person is essentially in a state of stasis, never truly making any significant changes to their core personality. Tony completely embodies this idea. In Season Six Part One of the show, Tony suffers a life threatening attack. After a long stay in the hospital, he miraculously returns to life. He almost immediately promises that he has changed his ways, and he will no longer sleep around on his wife, he will no longer commit such violent acts, and he will not be the same man he was. This, as it turns out, proves not to be the case. He is soon back to his old ways, as if he never vowed to change. This inability to make actual significant changes to his personality is in accordance to Freud’s theory. This is not the only way in which Tony adheres to Freud’s theories though.
Another way in which Tony adheres to Freud’s general theory is through Tony’s often surreal and symbolic dreams. Freud theorized that dreams are really our wants and desires cloaked in symbols. Tony’s dreams often do just that. The show depicts Tony’s dreams in a very surreal and bizarre way, but they always represent what is on his mind. Sometimes they even show what he is not willing to admit. In the episode “Funhouse,” Tony has a dream where he reaches the realization that one of his best friends has betrayed him. He had known it for a long time, but it was not until he had the dream that he was willing to admit to himself that his friend betrayed him. This completely correlates with Freud’s view of man, with dreams having significance far beyond our comprehension. Tony Soprano also inhabits Freud’s view of the effects of parenthood.
Every woman Tony tries to have sex with is eerily similar to his mother, which fits Freud’s view of man’s relation with his mother. Freud theorized that every man in life wants to have sex with their mother, which they then effects what they find attractive in the world. Tony truly inhabits this theory. His mother was a difficult person, to put it lightly. And for the entire length of the show, Tony constantly gets involved with women who are completely unstable. An example of this is that Tony at one point dumps one of these girls. A few weeks later, he finds out that the girl killed herself. That Tony is so attracted to such unstable women is a result of his affection for his mother, which fits Freud’s theory of man.
Tony Soprano is a complete manifestation of Freud’s view of man. His personality, dreams, and sexual activities completely view Freud’s various philosophies about man. Whether this was intentional or not is unknown, but it feeds into the extremely deep and intricate characterization of Tony Soprano. And it is because of this complexity and attention to character detailing that the show became one of the most acclaimed television series of all time.