Freudian Theory and Consciousness: A Conceptual Analysis Essay
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The portrayal of duality and the disturbing violence of the alters, in both works, can be approached with the psychoanalytic concept, and the structural theory of the mind promulgated by Freud. This is because both characters manifest the different sides of the structural theory of the mind. Based on Freud’s theory there are three subtypes of the self that go hand in hand to build our personality. “The id is the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to the pleasure principle.
” The superego is the self that operates according to moral principles. Ego, a required moderator, negotiates with the id and superego in order to satisfy the desires of both in a manner that is socially acceptable. If these three aspects of an individual from the whole self, the result is DID.
This takes place in both storylines, as Tyler and Hyde embody the “aggressive tendencies” of the id. Both main characters, that superficially exist as single entities, bring the reader to question the notion that good cannot exist without evil. The Narrator in Fight club characterizes the ego in the psyche, which mediates the impulsive and sexual self of the id with the social norms of the world. He eventually fails to find a compromise between the two and chooses to identify with the superego. Consequently, unconscious impulses form a discrete entity that is Tyler Durden. The id is manifested in Tyler’s need for primal violence, and high sex drive. He claims that “self-improvement isn’t the answer, maybe self-destruction is the answer”. Eventually, The Narrator finds himself in the center of “organized chaos”, and has lost all power over his id.
Similarly, Dr. Jekyll represents the ego, dominated by social norms. Jekyll says “It was on the moral side, …, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man”. He has a strenuous time juggling between the requirements of his aggressive instinct and his rational self. Consequently, he gives in to his impulses and decides to separate the two, and bring Mr. Hyde into being. He claims that “man is not truly one, but truly two.” Mr. Hyde, like Tyler Durden, has no social or moral principles, and seeks “instant gratification”. By the end, Jekyll, “represented by the proclaimed and implicit morals of the Victorian society”, loses control of Hyde. The pleasure the alters take in brutality and aggression, ultimately leads to their own destruction by suicide.
Aside from the similarities in the personalities and behaviors of the characters, Stevenson and Palahniuk choose many comparable themes and symbolism to help them portray dual personalities in their work, such as the prominent theme of isolation, devolution, as well as the motif of sleep, and the nocturnal city. Fight Club and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are further linked by the continually prevalent themes of isolation and devolution. The theme of devolution and atavism is reinforced by several factors in both works. Just as humans have the tendency to evolve, they also have the ability to evolve and become more primitive, especially as society forces us to repress such animalistic tendencies. Tyler and Mr. Hyde both return to their primitive and more animalistic state of being as the restrictions placed by society pushes them to their breaking point. This is evident as both characters have a more violent and destructive nature than The Narrator and Dr. Jekyll. Isolation is also significant in developing the theme of devolution. The Narrator and Jekyll both live isolated lives, with Jekyll insisting that he wants to lead “a life of extreme seclusion”. Both characters live their lives devoid of friends or family to communicate with. Jekyll isolates himself from his old friends and spends his days in his lab, while Hyde sneaks in and out of the house. Similarly, The Narrator moves to an abandoned house with no one to communicate with. The theme of isolation helps the alters “manipulate and absorb the bodies of the main characters for whatever purposes they so desire.” This helps them satisfy their needs for violence and destruction.