To begin with, both alter personas are of brutal and ferocious nature as they manifest disturbing evil intentions. Tyler Durden vandalizes property, craves annihilation, obliterates his own apartment, has full knowledge about all varieties of homemade explosives, and is brave enough to cause all kinds of chaos. Most prominently, Tyler, a follower of nihilism, founds “fight club”, a place for men to fight each other, feel alive, and ignite their inner rage. He expresses his nihilistic point of view in the following line: “It’s easy to cry when you realize that everyone you love will reject you or die. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero.”
Hyde, a detestable man in appearance, tramples a young girl on the street, and is responsible for the terrifying murder of Danvers Carew. Hyde was described by a maid to be “stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on like a madman” at the murder scene. Even more terrifying is the satisfaction he feels for his violent actions, that Jekyll later confesses to. Furthermore, the various characters that encounter Hyde are said to feel a deep personal hatred for him. Many dark adjectives, such as “evil” and “detestable”, are repeatedly used to describe him.
As the story progresses, both Jekyll and The Narrator realize that what their alter egos aim to achieve is not what they desire. This belated sense of realization comes when Hyde commits a murder and Jekyll progressively comes to the conclusion that he is beginning to transform into Hyde, involuntarily, without the potion. However, The Narrator’s realization comes at the end of the novel when he discovers that Tyler is his own alter ego, that takes over in his sleep.
Additionally, he realizes that fight club members are accountable for all the buildings that are being wrecked and all the people that are being killed with Tyler’s orders. The narrator tries cleaning up after Tyler, however Jekyll does not try to right Hyde’s mistakes. The Narrator tries defusing a bomb and preventing the chaos caused by Tyler’s orders by convincing the fight club members to stop. However, his plan ultimately fails as the members are previously ordered by Tyler to not answer any questions or let anyone stop them.
At this point, both characters lose control over their mind and body and have to liberate themselves from their demonic alters. In order to achieve that, The Narrator asks Marla to help him stay awake, which is not a permanent solution. Jekyll forages for a specific type of chemical, that he requires to make his potion and get rid of Hyde. However, he fails to obtain this ingredient. By the end, both Jekyll and The Narrator opt to commit suicide to end their life and by extension the lives of Hyde and Tyler. The Narrator states that “To god, this looks like one man alone, holding a gun in his own mouth…I’m not killing myself, I yell. I’m killing Tyler.” This destructive violence could be ideally explained through the lens of psychoanalytic approach.
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 symbolisms 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 devolve 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.
Moreover, both works illustrate the dark properties of the nocturnal cities in which they are narrated using extremely grotesque settings, which reflect the dark corners of each characters’ psyche. Main events in both works occur at night, when the alters take over. Therefore, sleep is a crucial element in both works, since it is the portrayed as the channel for transformation at night. The murder scene in Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde occurs in a narrow street lit by the light of the full moon with no citizens to witness the event. Similarly, the key events of Fight Club all occur at night in car parks, basements or other deserted locations. The use of these grotesque settings is extended throughout both novels, as the house of Jekyll and the Narrator are described as old and dark. Both houses symbolize the characters’ true personalities. Jekyll’s house is divided into two parts, symbolizing his duality. The dissecting room is used by Hyde, and the rest of the house is used by Jekyll. The Narrator’s house, with its torn apart walls, is a symbol of his own chaotic self. Despite similarities, two novels exhibit a plethora of differences in the two portrayals of duality.
Careful analysis reveals that the two works diverge their paths when it comes to use of narrative perspective. In both novels, the narrator plays an undeniably critical role, since he acts as an intermediary between the author and the reader. The point of view of the narrator determines how the dual personalities are depicted and when they are revealed to the readers. Narration in Stevenson’s novel, usually read as a mystery story, is of crucial significance in revealing the truth to the readers. The shift in narration from one person to another generates a sense of mystery which reinforces the reader’s feeling of suspense. The novella commences with a third person limited point of view that follows Mr. Utterson on his journey to discover the truth about Jekyll’s shadowy friend, Hyde. This choice of narration keeps us in the dark along with Mr. Utterson himself. However, this narrative is augmented with four other narrations: Dr. Jekyll’s confession, Dr. Lanyon’s story, Mr. Enfield’s story of the trampled child, and the maid’s account of the Carew murder. Dr. Jekyll’s confession takes the form of a confessional narrative and is the most convincing. Furthermore, Stevenson employs a delaying tactic, which triggers suspense, to the beginning of the story as we are not introduced to the main character, Dr. Jekyll, right away.
In contrast, Fight club is told from the first-person point of view. This appears to be the only suitable choice, as The Narrator is the only person who is not aware of his own duality, unlike Jekyll, who is the only one aware of his duality. This usage of an unreliable narrator, who is as in the dark about what is really going on as the audience, sets the reader in the center of excitement. At some instances, The Narrator speaks directly to the reader, “You wake up at O’Hare. You wake up at LaGuardia.”, this pulls the reader right into the story, and displays the narrator’s detachment from reality, as he is the one waking up in the afore mentioned locations. Palahniuk’s work has a certain, poetic stream of consciousness flow, since it is entirely from The Narrator’s point of view as we follow his thoughts throughout the story. This prompts the reader to observe The Narrator’s confusion, and helps evoke feelings of aggravation and restlessness. The narration is also replete with juxtapositions, that create suspense, and paradoxes. The most eye-catching example of a paradox, is the fact that although the aim of fight club is to break social order, it has its own set of rules. However, the focus of the narrations in both works is also a critical difference.