Fight Club: The Id, The Ego, And The Super Ego

2333 words - 9 pages

Introduction

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and David Fincher’s filmed adaptation are, at their heart, studies in the incessant search of one’s identity, intrinsic alienation within the inner fight to discover one’s self, to conform to popular consumerism, ultimately, the destruction of said consumerism. Not a single scene of Fincher’s adaptation is void of a cup of coffee, presumably, the ubiquitous Starbuck’s brand. (Widmyer) Few mass marketed products scream societal conformation more than Starbuck’s coffee. The id, the ego, and the super-ego inherently display the Freudian reality principle that purports the ego is tempered by experience and conscious, the civilized part of one’s consciousness that designs action plans so one may be a civilized member of society, this is to say be accepted by society. The formation of a societal accepted identity coordinating with the real world can only occur if, and only if, there is a controlled and directed id. Freud wrote, “ … like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse … that the rider tries to do so with his own strength while the ego uses borrowed forces.” (Freud 636) Additionally, Freud writes, “The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three … The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id." (Freud)
Both the novel and film depict the ego/super-ego, and the id’s confluence manifested externally between the nameless protagonist Narrator/hero/ego/super-ego, Edward Norton, and the iconic pretty boy of Hollywood, Brad Pitt/id. Fincher’s flawless casting a known zealous aloof Yale graduate, Norton, and his Doppelganger Pitt, who is a state school fraternity “guy’s guy”, a paragon embodying masculine beauty juxtaposed to the effeminately beautiful Gucci male model which the Narrator asks Tyler, “That’s what a man should look like?” Tyler responds, “Self-improvement is masturbation, now self-destruction…” (Uhls 126) Tyler’s manifesto imbues that self-transformation is inferior to self-destruction, specifically the narcissistic credo espoused by consumerist society. Tyler perceives destruction as medicine to cure the disease of materialistic consumption. Respectively, our hero’s aggregate alienation and narcoleptic insomnia cultivated his fractured subconscious, which Freud termed schizophrenia. The Narrator’s personality then projected Tyler Durden, the id, whose mandate is to destroy all that our hero has been indoctrinated to embrace, while the Narrator is an instrument for commentary on the alienation and struggle for self-identity. Furthermore, the self-inflicted serfdom to contemporary societal stamp of approval. His pre-packaged identity wrapped in a pretty bow each strand consisting of reverence, inclusion, aegis, individualism, and physiological traits. He is grasping at proverbial straws for not only conformity, but more...

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