The purpose of my essay is to compare and contrast the novel titled Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, and the story, dated back to the Victorian age, known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson. I will compare these two works by evaluating how these two authors represent the theme of dual/split personalities within a specific character found in within each of their respective stories.
Each author portrays the idea of dual personalities, and as you read my argument, you will encounter the similarities and differences in the way they described the character’s appearance of their alter ego and the process of their transformation.
I will also touch on how the author portrays each character with their own personal views on the world and how those very views caused the creation of their own, “Tyler Durden”, or “Mr. Hyde. ” My comparison will also include the destructive nature of each character’s alter persona, as well as their personal views on reality and society that revolves around them.
To close my argument, I will compare the process of each character’s inner confrontation and embracement of their other persona. This essay is purely a comparison of the two stories and will not touch on the psychological standpoint of dual personalities, other than comparing how the author portrays this theme and the ideologies of the characters, which they use to justify their actions in the story. Now the novel Fight Club was publish in 1996, and continues to be one of the most cult related novels of its time.
So it is very recent in comparison to the short story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, however they both dwell in the same region of dark settings and grotesque styles of writings. The novel Fight Club follows an individual, whose name is never revealed throughout the novel, and deals with his obsession of having all the finer things in life, along with the struggle of dealing with insomnia. He realizes that his existence means nothing in this world, despite his hard work and determination, and that one day he will die and the world will forget him as if he never existed.
He attends support groups to earn a sense of satisfaction of being able to cry and release his inner feelings, regardless of the fact that he is not suffering from any illness or fatal disease. From these emotions, one can assume this sparked the creation of his other persona known as Tyler Durden who starts a “Fight Club” where men can establish their dominance and where they can truly embrace who they are. However the main character soon finds that what Tyler wants is not necessarily what he wants, which begins the confrontation between himself and his inner persona.
Now within the novel of Fight Club, the story follows an individual whose name is never disclosed throughout the novel; therefore for the sole purpose of this essay I will reference this character as Joe. The reason being that as you read the story, the main character discovers a copy of Readers Digest, where he discovers an article in which they personify a human organ to explain functions and the medical needs that each organ needs. An example of this is, “I am Joe’s Raging Bile Duct” (Fight Club pg. 70), and continues to reference this throughout the story to express the emotions by personifying them in the same fashion.
An example of this done by the main character is, “I am Joe’s Grinding Teeth” (Fight Club pg. 70), as well as, “I am Joe’s Inflamed Flaring Nostrils” (Fight Club pg. 70). The moments where he identifies himself in this fashion are the only moments where he gives himself any form of an identity; therefore in my arguments, as well as the conclusion of my essay I will reference this character as Joe. The second part of this comparison is the short story known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Now this short story was published in the year 1886, and was written during a time when the author, Robert Louis Stevenson was very ill and suffering from several hemorrhages within his lungs. Therefore, one can assume that during the writing process of this short story, the author was plagued with a multitude of thoughts that centered on dark themes. He created a monster story disguised as a detective story, which left the audience in awe at the climax in the story where they discover the truth. The way the author simulated the setting in the novella is very reminiscent of how Palahniuk set up the climax in Fight Club.
The audience is given the image of individual who has altered persona. Now this story does not follow Dr. Jekyll through his journey of creating his evil alter ego. Moreover he is not even the first initial character that we are introduced to in the novella; we are first introduced to a man named Mr. Utterson. He is actually the lawyer of Dr. Jekyll and he takes an interest in his newfound protege who is referred to as Mr. Hyde. His negative feelings towards Mr. Hyde, beget a personal investigation into his life and his connection to Dr. Jekyll.
Sadly he does not realize the truth behind the mystery of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde till the end of the novella, where he finally discovers the secret from reading Dr. Jekyll’s last words written in a letter addressed to him after Dr. Jekyll’s untimely death. Although the story is not from the point of view from Dr. Jekyll himself, I was still able to receive a good assertion of his mentality and reason behind the creation of Mr. Hyde. This luckily was all explained within the note that was addressed to Mr. Utterson. We were also given enough details on the both characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was shared over the whole span of the short story.
So now that you have been given a brief introduction of the 2 books and the main characters that I will mention in the argument, then I will now proceed to carefully analyze and terms of measurements that I disclosed in the first paragraph of the introduction. Argument Appearance of Each Other’s Persona One of the main things within these two stories is the appearance of each character’s alter ego. It plays as one of the most important aspects of their persona.
Now the way it is displayed within The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mr. Hyde appears as the direct opposite of Dr. Jekyll, which is also the case within the novel Fight Club. The appearance of Mr. Hyde can only be described within the following statement, “I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why” (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg. 43)? Mr. Hyde’s appearance engulfs what is completely known as the pure evil of Dr. Jekyll’s being, he also described him as, “something displeasing, something downright detestable” (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg. 43). These feelings are constantly mentioned throughout the masses of individuals who cross paths with Mr. Hyde.
However Dr. Jekyll’s feelings towards Mr. Hyde are much different than the public opinion. This brings me to the appearance of Joe’s alter ego in Fight Club, Tyler Durden, who presents himself in the exact opposite deposition of his creator. Now oddly enough, despite the evil nature of these individuals, both characters seem to have great admiration towards their alter persona’s personality as well as physical appearance. Joe, on some level is extremely infatuated with Tyler, he craves the same knowledge that Tyler contains.
There are even moments in which he shows extreme jealous for the attention of his companion, “How could I compete for Tyler’s attention” (Fight Club pg. 5)? He truly wanted to embody all the characteristics of Tyler Durden; “Tyler and I were looking more and more like identical twins. Both of us had punched out cheek bones, and our skin had lost its memory, and forgot where to slide back to after we were hit” (Fight Club pg. 147). Now the differences between the characters appearances towards their alter ego’s are different in both stories. Now in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mr. Hyde appears repulsive and disdainful to look at, whereas the famous Tyler Durden is everything that other men want to be, as seen within the main character’s (Joe) mind.
This is due to the fact the each character’s persona is an exact depiction of what they want, Joe desires to be a leader and to be a man known and recognized, whereas Dr. Jekyll wants to embrace his pure evil side with no regret of guilt feelings. Now it can also be said that Joe’s desires to spawn anarchy, resulted in the creation of Tyler Durden due to the fact that he felt the people would respond more to Tyler than himself. Transformation (Mental vs. Physical) Now the author portrayed Dr. Jekyll as a man who was born into wealth and with humility as well as respect for his fellow man.
However, Dr. Jekyll had his demons, along with an urge to commit misdeeds. He had an evil side that was ready to flourish; he would always say, “that man is not truly one, but truly two” (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg. 104). Sadly, any time he would commit a misdeed, a sense of horrible guilt would befall on his soul. Dr. Jekyll would state that he could see, “the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness” (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg. 104). Now this is when Dr. Jekyll decided to dedicate his research to the idea the one could separate into two personalities.
Therefore, he would then be able to commit misdeeds with no guilt and to live a virtuous life without the temptation of evil. Now Dr. Jekyll had to achieve this over a physical means, whereas in the novel Fight Club, the main character achieved this split and separation of personalities within a mental means. Mainly the creation of his persona, Tyler Durden, was created from his own mind, of his own free will; to change the person he is and to become the person that he always wanted to be. Now unlike Dr. Jekyll, Joe’s process of transformation occurred, not from a vial of his own concoction, but from the condition known as Insomnia.
The main character describe the condition as, “Everything is so far away, a copy of a copy of a copy. The insomnia distance of everything, you can’t touch anything and nothing can touch you” (Fight Club pg. 21). He is describing as if were in an out-of –body experience, and sure enough as its revealed later in the story, when he enters in a state of insomnia, in which he is actually under the control of Tyler Durden. As stated by Tyler, “Every time you fall asleep I run off and do something wild, something crazy, something completely out of my mind” (Fight Club pg. 148).
Tyler explains that the longer and longer that Joe remains awake, the less will he will have to fight back to reclaim his mind. This means he starts becoming Tyler more and more often without his knowledge or free will any longer. Now the idea and theme of waking up as your alter ego is present in both short stories. Now in Fight Club, the only time that the main character transforms into Tyler Durden is when he slips into sleep and then awakens in a semi insomniac state. In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll creates an elixir in which he can choose to become Mr. Hyde.
When challenged by Mr. Utterson concerning Dr. Jekyll’s control over Mr. Hyde he states, “The moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde” (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg. 58). However Dr. Jekyll is overestimating the amount of the control he actually has over the beast within. At times he tries to prove that he does not need to become Mr. Hyde any longer, but he surely gives into temptation causing the beast to get stronger each and every time. That concept is similar to how Joe embraced Tyler within himself, and how he desired to be one with Tyler.
Now both stories come full circle when they both realize the power that each of their persona has over them, so much now that they are transforming more and more often. This is seen in the moment when Dr. Jekyll awakes as Mr. Hyde without the aid of his elixir; he states, “Yes, I had gone to bed as Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde” (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg. 112). Now both stories share a common factor, which is that each character has lost so much control and has gone too far to regain whatever control they have left of their body.
One quote comes to mind as one witness these occurrences and that is said by Joe, “If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person” (Fight Club pg. 24)? This question completely foreshadows the endings of both stories and in the process creates a huge similarity. Confrontation of One’s Self Now that the story is ending, the main character of each has to deal with the task of somehow liberating themselves from the clutches of their inner demon. In both stories, it seems almost near impossible to defeat their own mind. Tyler Durden is a separate personality I’ve created and now he’s threatening to take over my life” (Fight Club pg. 237).
In this situation both characters have a sense of being trapped from the pure fact that they cannot run away from their own minds. For example, in the novel Fight Club, the main character attempts to remain awake with the help of another individual to prevent the awakening of his counterpart. Now this is only temporary for the pure fact that Joe can only remain awake for a certain amount of time. He is then forced to confront Tyler Durden in his mind, and only one persona will remain after the confrontation.
His final confrontation can be described in the following quote, “To God, this looks like one man alone, holding a gun in his own mouth, but its Tyler holding the gun, and it’s my life” (Fight Club pg. 279). Now the character in the Fight Club actually prevails against his alter ego, by realizing fully that as long as it’s his body, he holds the power. “This is like a total epiphany moment for me. I’m not killing myself, I yell. I’m killing Tyler” (Fight Club pg. 281). Sadly the same outcome did not occur within the short story of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The confrontation that occurred between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was simply a battle between achieving a sense of normality before his very reputation was ruined. He searched for ingredients that could possibly help his metamorphous back to his own self. This did not work out as plan and to which it ended with Mr. Hyde’s suicide, which was committed to save him the embarrassment of being revealed or to face the pains of facing trial and being thrown to the gallows.
Now these two different confrontations occurred in two different fashions due to the fact that the manifestation of Tyler Durden was the result of a mental need that the main character felt at the beginning of the novel. I felt trapped. I was too complete. I was too perfect. I wanted a way out of my life” (Fight Club pg. 263). He created him in his mind and Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde out of physical manifestation of the evil within himself. Now a physical transformation is a lot harder to overcome a mental transformation, therefore the ending to the novella ended with a suicide attempt to end both personas whereas the main character of Fight Club shot himself in the attempt of killing, not himself, but the idea of Tyler Durden, in which he succeeded.
Conclusion Now the results of my essay have shown the similarities between the novel and the novella. The novel known as Fight Club, written by Chuck Palahniuk, showed the process of how a man, whose life was so perfect and yet found no happiness, embarked on the path of creating an altered persona of himself that was everything he ever desired and wanted to embody. Now the novella known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, told a very similar story involving a man who grew up into wealth and was praised as humble and respectful man.
However he yearned to embrace his dark side, through the means of a physical transformation with the help of a chemical concoction that he spent his life to develop. His goal was to completely separate his good and bad sides to achieve the best of both worlds. Now one can see why these two stories ended up going their own paths involving dual personalities. Dr. Jekyll embraced his own manifestation of evil from the start; he even centered his research on the idea that he could separate his dark from his light side.
However Joe never looked for Tyler Durden, his body craved it, and once the time came when Joe realized that he did not want to embody Tyler Durden, he retaliated by taking control of his mind, which then lead to him taking back control of his own body. The ill fate of Dr. Jekyll befall upon him due to the fact the he tried to silence one side completely, which ended in Mr. Hyde retaliating back and taking full control of his body. Very similar in how Joe was pushed to the limits and how, in the last second, took control and completely repelled Tyler Durden out of his body.
Now even though Mr. Hyde, as well as Joe, took total control, the story did not end well for either of them. Mr. Hyde ended his life while Joe continued to live the rest of his life in an insane asylum. It seems that neither of the characters could have proceed on living without the other side of their persona present. The thought that a single moment in time can dictate the nature of history and the way that it is conveyed to the masses from that moment in time.