Another significant difference between the two works is the focus of the author’s narrations and the attitude with which they look at the stories. Stevenson’s approach is a large scale and symbolic one. His narration tackles the issue of dual personalities in terms of the concepts of good and evil, as it presents the two personalities of the main character as polar opposites, one representing good and the other evil. He also incorporates the dangers of manipulating and disturbing nature into his portrayal of duality. This is visible as Jekyll eventually loses all his friends, completely ruins his reputation, and by the end commits suicide, after the creation of the potion which he had created to manipulate his own nature.
Palahniuk’s view, however, is focused on the complexities of the modern world and of human relationships. A major part of Palahniuk’s novel is focused on the relationship between The Narrator and Marla singer. His narration covers their relationship from the moment they meet, as they struggle to understand each other, up to the very end when they are in love and Marla gathers members of their support group to the Parker-Morris building, where The Narrator commits suicide. Palahniuk also covers the intricacies of the modern world and consumerism in his portrayal of duality. He pushes the readers and The Narrator to reconsider their whole lives and its mundanity, caused by materialism and capitalism. In fact, The Narrator’s desire to overcome these issues is the force that pushes him to create “fight club” in order to examine the oppressive nature of the modern world. Next, we must move on to the differences concerning how the author reveals and foreshadows the character’s duality to the readers through the narrations.
Foreshadowing is an important literary device used in both works, as it acts as a herald of the characters’ duality. This evidently aids in portraying the alter egos. It adds to the suspense in the story and builds up anticipation. There are a few hints indicating that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are truly one person. The similarities between Jekyll and Hyde’s handwritings and signatures (“I gave in the cheque myself, and said I had every reason to believe it was a forgery. Not a bit of it. The cheque was genuine.”), in addition to Jekyll’s unusual will, tickles the reader’s curiosity.
However, there are more than just a few foreshadowings in Fight Club. The reader detects many lines in The Narrator’s flow of thoughts that hint duality. At the start of the story, as the narrator gives his account of his own suicide, claiming that Tyler is holding a gun to his head, he calls it “Tyler’s whole murder-suicide thing”. The Narrator also claims that Tyler only works night jobs because of his nature and that he doesn’t “know how long Tyler had been working on all those nights I couldn’t sleep”. The Narrator also states that he knows the things he knows because Tyler knows them, and that he never sees Tyler and Marla in the same room. Clearly, Palahniuk gives the reader numerous hints unlike Stevenson. Furthermore, The Narrator’s duality is revealed to the reader in chapter 20, while Jekyll’s duality is not completely exposed until the very last chapter, which is Jekyll’s own confession. A fourth difference, which this essay will aim to elucidate, is how the appearance and transformations of the alter egos is portrayed in both narrations.
Differences in the way the appearance of each characters’ alter ego and the process of their transformation is described is undeniably significant and aids us in answering the research question. This is because such differences are some of the most important aspects of each character’s persona and because they significantly change the course of the story. The Narrator’s transformation occurs at night, as a consequence of his insomnia that keeps him up. The Narrator repeatedly mentions that his condition makes him see everything as “a copy of a copy of a copy”, and that it distances him from his surroundings. Moreover, he is not aware of his own duality until the very end of the story, as he discovers that he transforms into Tyler when he slips into sleep. On the other hand, Jekyll transforms into Hyde deliberately by taking his elixir, and Hyde is the absolutely intended ramification of Jekyll’s own experimentations. As previously mentioned, there exists many differences in the physical appearance of the alters.
The Narrator’s transformation results in no apparent physical change, in fact he even mentions that himself and Tyler “were looking more and more like identical twins”. However, physical appearance is an important factor that emphasizes the difference between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While Dr. Jekyll is an older, prestigious, taller man, Mr. Hyde is a smaller, more crooked, and shorter man. He is described to look like “something displeasing, something downright detestable”. As a result, while Tyler’s presence is more notable as a mental presence that coexists along with The Narrator himself, Hyde’s presence plays a more notable part as a physical presence that constantly interchanges with Dr. Jekyll. Yet it is undeniable that one of the most prominent differences between the two works is how and why the alters have been created.
Last but definitely not least, the most significant and eye-catching difference between the works is how the alter persona has come to be and how the characters confront and embrace their alters. In fact, this distinction is most useful when laying the chosen research question to rest, because it informs us about the dynamics that have triggered the duality. Both alters are born, as vessels to freedom, out of dark pasts and a lack of ability to cope with the reality surrounding the main characters. Jekyll and The Narrator have lived widely different pasts. While it is hinted that The Narrator is born into a neglectful childhood without the presence of a father, it is improbable that Jekyll, a prestigious and successful surgeon, is born into such a family. Likewise, they come from very different social classes. While classic literature, in the case of Dr. Jekyll, focuses on aristocrats and people who are socially and economically uplifted, modern literature, in the case of the Narrator, is circled around people from the middle class.
Both alters are exact depictions of what The Narrator and Jekyll want to be, in order to free themselves from the “shackles of cultural civility”. The Narrator’s dissatisfaction with life, the sensation that his existence is filled with materialism, mundane choices and no great cause to fight for, coupled along with his insomnia places him on a path to enlightenment that unleashes Tyler into the real world. Consequently, he creates fight club as a way to battle materialism, capitalism and social order. (” You’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”) The following quote gives the reader further insight into the Narrator’s philosophy of life: “you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.”
Jekyll, already possessing an evil side, formulates a potion that allows him to transform into Hyde and fulfill his evil needs without any sensation of guilt and without consequences damaging his reputation. This is also perceptible in the name Dr. Jekyll has chosen for his alter, “Hyde”. This play on words reveals that Mr. Hyde is only a disguise or mask that Jekyll wears in order to “hide” while fulfilling his evil urges. Moreover, the fact that Hyde breaks laws can be seen as an allegorical representation of how he breaks himself free of the shackles of society and civilization. In his confession, Jekyll even states that he believes “man is not truly one, but truly two”, and that is the reason why he made his potion in order to part his good from his evil.
Conclusively, it is safe to say that, in countless ways, Fight Club can be considered the twentieth century American urban rewrite of the gothic topic of duality, found in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Narrator and Dr. Jekyll have both helped shape how the public has viewed dual personalities throughout the many years. In order to answer the question, “how are dual personalities portrayed in the controversial cult classic, Fight Club and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?”, both the similarities and differences were analyzed. It conclusively became clear that both authors make use of characters that struggle with liberating themselves from duals, that are born as vessels to freedom out of dark pasts and that represent manifestations of disturbing evil intentions. This tactic is employed in order to bring the reader to question the notion that good cannot exist without evil, which illustrates how both authors had comparable points of view concerning how they wanted to depict dual personalities in their respective novels. However, it is worthy to note that while Stevenson incorporates the dangers of manipulating and disturbing nature into his portrayal of duality, Palahniuk’s view is focused on the complexities of the modern world and of human relationships. Additionally, we notice that the isolation and devolution of each character leads to further down the path of deprivation from human communication and finally results in the formation of duality. The different narrations, coupled along with the different aspects of each character’s duality, such as transformation, appearance, and creation, are some main factors that completely part the two portrayals of duality apart from one another. Clearly, both authors had similar mindsets regarding the underlying elements of their works, however the portrayals of duality are more different than alike on the surface. Such elements make each novel a distinctive work, worthy of praise and detailed study, which is why both works have become critically acclaimed and infamously illustrious throughout the years.