Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Committee Chair

Murphy, Jonathan W.


This thesis examines Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories and applies them to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The primary text used from Freud is Civilization and its Discontents (1930), as well as other works that help supplement the theories he poses. Freud’s psychoanalytic model is being applied to understand how civilized societies operate by repressing certain anti-social drives and re-channeling them into socially acceptable outlets. The characters and storylines from Nolan’s films are derived from the Batman comic book series created by Bob Kane in 1939. Batman Begins (2005) introduces the duality of the Batman character and the unique development that Bruce Wayne undergoes as a result of the father figures in his life. The Dark Knight (2008) represents a back-and-forth between the id and the superego, symbolically brought to life by the Joker and Batman, respectively, as well as examines the tragic figure of Harvey Dent giving in to the id. Finally, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) continues to depict this struggle as Nolan provides a resolute finale that encapsulates two alternatives Freud posed to escape the guilt one undergoes from the superego’s suppression. This psychoanalytic analysis of the Dark Knight trilogy serves to define the inner struggle every human faces and the many ways one can overcome it.