Slide: The Analysis of Fight Club

"You always hurt
the ones you love."
"The ones you pity!"
-James Hurley
and Laura Palmer

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Comparison with Twin Peaks

Ah yes. Who could forget Twin Peaks, the X-Files of the 80's. (Except there was no Scully, the good guys didn't win, and David Duchovny wore a skirt.) It, like Fight Club, was one of those shows where everything was a symbol and after a while you begin to wonder if even the writers had a clue what was going on. While an entire encyclopedia could be written about the analysis of Twin Peaks, this page is short and only covers a few broad similarities between characters. The doppelganger concept is further explored on the X-Files comparison page.

Dale Cooper / The Narrator

The main characters of both shows are ordinary guys thrown into the fray, who later turn out to be not-so-ordinary after all. Both are quirky in their own ways: Dale has a fetish for coffee and has named his tape recorder "Diane;" the Narrator is obsessed with support groups and his yin-yang coffee table. Their lives change because of their work. Dale is an FBI agent sent to the town of Twin Peaks to investigate the death of Laura Palmer; while there, he gets caught up in the bizarre happenings that will soon control his life. In the same way, the Narrator meets Tyler on a business flight and soon loses who he once was. Also, both men have something from which to escape. While the Narrator is only tired of his white-collar, go-nowhere life, Dale is trying to escape his bitter past: he fell in love with another agent's wife, who was then killed by her husband. Finally, they both come in contact with alternate versions of themselves. In the Red Room, a sort of purgatory where the Black Lodge ("Hell") and the White Lodge ("Heaven") intersect, Dale meets his doppelganger, a "dark side" clone of himself, and the Narrator meets Tyler. Similarities even lie in the ultimate fate of the men and their other selves. Dale cannot face up to his dark side; he runs from the doppelganger. It catches him and knocks him out, then escapes into the real world, where it is proved to be just another incarnation of Bob (see below). Because Dale ultimately lacked the courage to face up to the evil within himself, it overcame him and imprisoned him in the Red Room for twenty-five years. The Narrator, however, faced up to his dark side-- Tyler-- and "destroyed" him; nevertheless, he is no better off than Dale. Neither man was strong enough to accept who they were and to live in harmony with their doppelgangers.

Bob / Tyler Durden

"Killer Bob" (not to be confused with "Meatloaf Bob") and Tyler are imaginary, yet seem more real than many of the other characters in their respective shows. Bob is, simply put, the dark side of all of us. He hails from the Black Lodge, Twin Peaks' version of Hell, and escapes through the Red Room into Twin Peaks via the doppelgangers of its inhabitants. In much the same way, Tyler represents the repressed half of the Narrator in an allegory for the human race in general. Overall, Bob is a much darker aspect of humanity than Tyler is-- he is lust and murder, while Tyler is rebellion. Nevertheless, their meanings are the same.

Oddly, both Bob and Tyler in some ways protect their reluctant other halves. Bob, while generally evil and vicious, prevents the husband and murderer of Dale's lover from stealing Dale's soul. Bob says, "He is wrong. He cannot ask for your soul. Instead, I will take his." And he does. Similarly, Tyler cares for the Narrator after their car wreck and comforts him in other ways. Both Bob and Tyler try to get their other halves to accept their need for each other, and therefore be fulfilled. Bob gains control over Dale, and Tyler loses control to the Narrator, but both fail in this ultimate goal.

Laura Palmer / Marla Singer

Laura and Marla could be sisters. Both are really just catalysts, secondary characters whose sole purpose is to cause and/or further the action of their shows. Arguably, Laura plays a greater role than Marla, since the entire Twin Peaks series focuses around her death, but in the end, the series is less about her than about the many lives she touched (parallel to the Narrator's and Tyler's envolvement with Laura). Both are bad girls with innocent sides who get in over their heads. Laura is plagued and tortured by Bob, and she feels the same fatal attraction for him that Marla feels for Tyler/the Narrator; however there is no real place for either girl in the scheme of things. The conquest of Laura means little to Bob; he leaves both her and her doppelganger in purgatory in the Red Room until the proper alignment occurs to allow them into the White and Black Lodges respectively. (Twenty-five years later, when the alignment occurs again, Laura comes back to speak with Dale Cooper, who has been trapped in the Red Room the whole time.) In the same way, Marla means less to the Narrator than Tyler does, and nothing at all to Tyler himself. Both girls end up being the tragic, unwanted points of a failed triangle.

Wgbanshee, co-leader of the Twin Peaks program at Dragon*con 2001 and all-around Peaks diva, contributed her thoughts on Laura Palmer: "I have a slightly different take on Laura -- I think she was more than "just" a catalyst. Keep in mind that Leland tells Coop and Truman that BOB wanted Laura very much, wanted to possess her. BOB indicates that Leland was a "vessel filled with holes;" he was ready to possess a new body, but Laura fought him. She was strong enough that in the end she was able to choose her own death, to put the ring on. The "conquest of Laura" actually means a great deal to BOB, but he never achieves it. If we assume that the Red Room is a waiting room/purgatory of sorts, as you mention, then Laura waits there until the end of FWWM [Fire Walk With Me, the Twin Peaks movie]. She pays for her bad deeds (corruption of Bobby B., for example) there, and it is suggested that she eventually passes through to the White Lodge when she sees the angel. That scene at the end with her laughing always bothered me, though. It bothers my spouse as well. Her laughter doesn't seem happy - it seems more hysterical: like something has finally snapped and she's broken. The only plausible reason I can think of off the top of my head for that would be the realization of the irony that the good Cooper is now trapped, and BOB is out in the world again. She saved herself, but it didn't prevent BOB from finding a new host."

In a way, this mirrors Marla's role in Fight Club in that she is unable to stop Tyler's conquest of the whole country through its young men. Even though Tyler is "killed," that won't stop the countless Fight Clubs across the country, and the Narrator is trapped in his own way.