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The idea of possessing a split personality is a concept not all people can comprehend or understand. The fact that two or more people having control of one body working in a incongruent manner has been a mind boggling problem for many years. Even to this day it is still not entirely understood. However, it is easier to portray the contrast between the two different personas through both literature and art work. The most common example of this is the Chinese belief of yin and yang who are counter opposites but yet balance each other out at the same time.
While this is a much older example and far less impactful on someone’s life there are others who rise to the occasion when emphasizing the importance of this dilemma people may face. One such example is Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, where a man is both a civil doctor but yet a menacing man living a dual life with entirely different personas.
This novel has become so popular that the term “Jekyll and Hyde” is now commonly used to easily describe one of split nature.
While Stevenson’s example was mostly internal focusing on the split persona of one man there are others who have branched out to incorporate this idea into a more symbolic example that is more tangible than Stevenson’s previous novel. The novel Fight Club is a particularly good example of this because it unravels the complex relationship between two men by the name of Tyler Durden.
Both men are polar opposites of one another. While one is a depressed man dealing with insomnia and struggling to find his place in the world the other is successfully running a soap business.
Both men in this novel but heads often in regards to their disagreements to handle a situation such as when they are working sighing the restaurant and the soap maker Tyler durden wants to get even with the rich snobs by urinating in their soup while the other Tyler durden wants to just quit the job all together. Together they find a middle ground known as fight club where they battle put their anger and aggression once a week to prevent themselves from snapping and losing control of themselves.
Both authors portray the split personality disorder differently and they each approach the topic in their own way. Each highlights the difficulty of fighting with two contrasting personas while trying to maintain a middle ground between the two. Both authors express the losing battle a person may face while dealing with these particular problems and how drastically a situation can get out of hand when a person with this condition is involved. In the same manner both authors draw a similar conclusion that this condition is one that can be managed and treated and that with time it can secede until it is no longer a problem with it a person's life.
One of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic stories, “William Wilson” is told by the narrator who tells the reader although the path to evil is mostly slippery slope, it was more of a rapid decline for him. Suddenly he found himself capable of acts of extreme wickedness. The Narrator conceals his name by using “William Wilson” recounts the events of his life story as he’s laying on his deathbed. He tells the reader of his childhood and schooldays in England, and hoe he demanded ultimate respect from his surrounding peers. “This exception was a boy who, though not of my family, had the same name as my own, William Wilson” (Poe 9).
This boy was born the same exact day as the narrator and they were the same height. The original wilson comes to dislike this new boy more and more because he refuses to believe what the narrator told him and refuses his commands. “This troubled me greatly. I tried to make the others think that I didn’t care. The truth was that I felt afraid of him. I had to fight to appear equal with him, but he easily kept himself equal with me” (Poe 9). The narrator feels as if he has to prove himself to look equal with his doppelganger and to show people it didn’t bother him.
In part two of “William Wilson”, the narrator continues to tell use the reader of how his doppelganger tried to command him as the original Wilson tried to rule him. The narrator has a hard time explaining his feelings towards his doppelganger. He didn’t feel love nor fear. “The strange thing is that, although I did not like him, I could not hate him” (Poe 10). Wilson couldn’t hate him even if he tried. Wilson had found on weakness in his doppelganger that no one else but he could use. “ No one but me would have made any use of it against him. He was able to speak only in a very, very soft, low voice. This weakness I never failed to use in any way that was in my power” (Poe 10). Knowing this weakness, Wilson used it to try to exert power over him. The doppelganger could and had fought back. He troubled Wilson beyond measure, by using his name because it was so common. It “sickened” him. He felt angry for his doppelganger having the same name as him. According to the narrator the other boys at school his actions and the doppelgangers were the same. “My anger grew stronger with every happening that showed that William Wilson and I were alike, in body or in mind” (Poe 11).
The narrator didn’t like that he was so alike with the other, it enraged him. He soon realized that they were similar in the face and form. “ He discovered that in this likeness he could always find a way of troubling me. This proved the more than usual sharpness of his mind” (Poe 12). His doppelganger was quick to find what bother the original Wilson and used it to his advantage. The original began to think of a plan to hurt his doppelganger and had little success with them. The narrator later moves to Eton, having left his previous school following an unsuccessful attempt to inflict pain and torment upon his ‘rival’, which ended with him being disturbed by the appearance of his sleeping double and frightened off the idea. But his double shows up at Eton. This frightens the narrator.
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