Some people can find happiness in anything while others spend their lives seeking it and the later type of individuals often takes a path which can make them monsters in the eyes of our society. A very similar story is portrayed in the novel Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 and the movie Fight Club directed by David Fincher in 1999 which makes them an ideal comparison for this paper. In both the film and the novel, the character named Jekyll and the unnamed narrator were unhappy with their daily lifestyle. Although they were leading a normal life according to society, they were suffering from the crisis of happiness. This paper will discuss what causes this crisis even when the characters in both the novel and the film has everything in life and how these persons becomes monsters in society. Boredom causes unhappiness in life which can have adverse psychological traumas in the person experiencing it. Which explains why the characters in question are considered to be psychopaths.
Evidences of Jekyll’s advantages in life and his dissatisfaction can be found in many references throughout the novel Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Jekyll mentions about his background, “I was born in the year 18 to a large fortune, endowed besides with excellent parts…fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellow men…honourable and distinguishable future”(Robert pp. 75). It is clear from this statement that Jekyll had a clear advantage in life as he was financially better off from most of the people. Jekyll’s expression of his dissatisfaction with life can be found in his statement “I found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire...I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life...I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame”(Robert pp. 76). Here he clearly states that although he had a good and normal life, he still was not satisfied and that he is just trying to cope with his position and status like a role play but not at all happy with it even though any normal person in society would love to be in his position. He also illustrates the cause of his dual nature that provoked or acted as the catalyst for his attempt to gain pleasure through transforming. Jekyll states, “It was thus rather the exacting nature of my aspirations...served in me those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man’s dual nature.”(Robert pp, 76). Jekyll mentions about his first encounter with dual nature led by his dissatisfaction or rather his crisis that forced him to push his boundaries into dual nature. This also proves one of Cohen’s seven theses, “monsters are the harbinger of category crisis”(Cohen pp. 4) it means that monsters emerges from some kind of crisis, to be exact when the crisis is huge and in order to fill up the crisis a person is ready to cross any boundaries to pursue what they want.
Like Jekyll the protagonist in the film Fight Club, was also unhappy with his life in spite of having success that not many can achieve. According to critics Fight Club tells the story of an insomniac white-collar worker named Jack, who seems to lead an isolated life and gains pleasure from consuming material objects (Fincher). This shows the unnamed narrator in Fight Club is indeed having a normal life with a job but was not happy with it. The imaginary friend of the protagonist of the film reveals himself on board a flight, Norton's character revels in the fantasy of a mid-air explosion where he enjoys the spectacle of the cabin of the plane being torn apart, and he strikes up a conversation with what he believes to be a 'single-serving' friend ( Kinder et al. pp. 541-556). The presence of an imaginary friend indicates the absence of any real friends which suggest that the unnamed narrator may feel pretty lonely in life. The section of the film where Jack first encounters his imaginary friend, it also shows that Jack is beginning to pursue his happiness. The dialogues from the unnamed narrator that says I am Jack's... complete lack of surprise...I am Jack's wasted life...I am Jack's smirking revenge(Fincher) further proves that he was not happy with his life. But the destructive nature of his imaginary friend causes Jack to rethink their relationship and the latter realizes Tyler as his double (Cartmell & Whelehan, 96). Here unlike Jekyll, the unnamed narrator realizes that he has a double which can also be found in other gothic fictions.
It is evident from both the novel and the film that they both follow the trend of gothic fiction and both are connected to Cohen’s monster theory. Both have had a similar crisis where they were bored with their regular life which can have adverse psychological effects (James, pp. 281-91). As a result, both Jekyll and the unnamed narrator developed dual personality disorder.
Research suggests that bored people are more prone to unhappiness without even realizing themselves (Diener el al, 47, pp 1105-1117). And individuals who are prone to boredom often attempt to engage themselves in highly stimulating activities, in particular aggression and violence are extreme examples of radical behavior that serves to get rid of the state of boredom (David et al. 1995). This shows why Jekyll and the unnamed narrator who had nothing interesting in life, ended up becoming a psychopath walking the wrong road. The fact that the unnamed narrator later in the movie realizes he was wrong proves the actions of Tyler (his imagination) were also wrong. Therefore boredom, which can cause unhappiness, can eventually lead to monstrous activities in individuals. This proves Cohen's third thesis which states that monsters are created from a category crisis which in these two cases are unhappiness (Cohen pp.4).
Some scholars argue that boredom can also bring positive aspects in life such as personal growth and can help to construct a meaningful life (Elpidorou, pp 5). But it is up to every individual as to which direction they want to take when they are at their limit and individuals taking the path of crime and destruction ended up becoming as monster; this also supports Cohen's seventh theory that states monsters stand at the threshold of becoming one(Cohen pp. 12). Therefore it can be concluded that extreme boredom which can cause unhappiness can sometimes create monsters in our society.