Fight Club is one complex movie. That's obvious. But is it in fact more complex than you ever originally imagined?
Trying to explain the narrative and story of Fight Club to anyone unfamiliar (or in some cases, familiar) with the movie is a struggle, especially when it comes to unravelling the relationship between Tyler and the narrator, Jack.
Most fans of Fight Club can probably handle this, but for one super-fan, a solitary imaginary character just isn't enough. Andrew, who operates JackDurden.com, has instead developed some in-depth fan theories which suggest both Marla and Bob are also figments of Jack's imagination.
The theory is rather long and very in-depth - which certainly adds credence to Andrew's claims - and it cannot be replicated in full here. I will list the basic elements of his arguments, but I highly recommend you head over to his site to get the full deal.
Marla Is Not Real
Essentially the theory states that, like Tyler, Marla is also a character of Jack's psyche. More explicitly, Marla is actually the emasculated version of Jack, who really has had his testicles removed due to cancer.
This fact is simply too much for Jack to handle, so to cope he creates another reason for attending the support groups (his insomnia) and instead funnels his insecurities into Marla. Alternatively, Tyler is the hyper-masculine version of Jack, someone he aspires to be.
Andrew provides countless examples as evidence, but here are some of the most prominent.
Jack Becomes Marla
Jack slowly becomes Marla through the film, culminating in the two holding hands in the final scene. Importantly, both are dressed similarly and have similar silhouettes, while Jack is literally wearing no trousers and has just escaped castration by the police. This relates to his emasculation.
Marla Takes Over Jack at the Laundromat
Marla takes over Jack, and becomes his primary alternate personality, in the laundromat scene. In this scene we see Marla steal some men's pants from the 'Speed Queen' drying machines. This represents Marla once again taking Jack's masculinity and selling it to a thrift store. Ultimately, this marks the point where Jack becomes Marla.
Later in the film, we see Marla in an old dress she claims to have bought from a thrift store. In reality, the theory claims Jack bought that dress to match his new emasculated personality. Marla even claims Jack "can borrow it sometime."
Tyler Takes Over Jack's Personality on the Airplane
Alternatively, Tyler takes over Jack's personality - and displaces Marla - during the airplane scene. This is hinted at in various ways. Firstly, Jack is originally imagining himself talk to a woman, who then suddenly turns into Tyler. While the panel above the emergency exit also shows a woman transitioning into a man. Following this, Jack attempts to regain his masculinity through the Fight Club.
Jack Really Did Pack a Dildo
If we follow this idea that Jack is Marla, it also brings us to some interesting conclusions. For example, Andrew states that Jack really did pack a dildo into his bag - the one which is confiscated by airport security for 'vibrating' - since he packed it as Marla. His confusion about the situation shows that following his encounter with Tyler, he has now disassociated himself with Marla. The security guard even hints at this when he states: “Of course it's company policy never to imply ownership in the event of a dildo, we have to use the indefinite article a dildo, never your dildo."
We know Marla has a dildo, since we see one in her hotel room. Interestingly, she states to Tyler that it is "no threat to you," since Tyler is still a 'man' and presumably has all his genitals. This implies, however, that it would be a threat to Jack, who does not.
Self Improvement is Masturbation
This could be one of the most telling quotes of this theory.
If we are to assume that Jack, Marla and Tyler are all the same person, then the sex scenes between Tyler and Marla are actually moments in which Jack is masturbating.
Interesting, when this occurs, Jack is elsewhere in the house doing sit-ups or reading, i.e. self-improvement.
Furthermore, in the above quote, Tyler actually says "masturbation is self improvement, now self destruction..." before trailing off. In the original script the quote is, "masturbation is self improvement, now self destruction is the answer." When Marla and Tyler are having sex, interestingly the house is falling apart, which hints at Jack's own mental self-destruction as the three personalities converge.
Furthermore, this theory claims the house on Paper Street (which is a city-planner's term for a street that has not been built yet) does not actually exist either, but is merely a space in which Jack's various personalities roam. Hence, Jack's annoyance at Marla returning to the house, and Tyler's insistence he is never spoken about in front of Marla.
Infectious Human Waste
This is another telling one.
As Tyler saves Marla from suicide, she runs away from her hotel room and shouts "She's infectious human waste." Her use of third person is interesting here, as, according to the theory, it is Jack running away, shouting about Marla.
Furthermore, Jack and Tyler literally use 'infectious waste' to make their soap. Marla uses this phrasing because she simultaneously knows everything Tyler and Jack know, since as the narrator explains at the beginning to the film, "I know this, because Tyler knows this." This could also explain why Tyler wears rubber gloves when having sex with Marla.
This is just a fraction of the fan theory developed by Andrew over at JackDurden.com. As well as going into further detail about Marla, he also outlines how Bob is also another element of Jack's personality. Furthermore, it seems he has 7 other 'Rules' to reveal, suggesting he really has conducted a deep reading into Fight Club. Future hinted theories include 'There is no Project Mayhem' and Raymond K. Hessel. Indeed, Andrew claims that virtually no one in Fight Club is real.
Now, you don't necessarily have to agree with all he's written, but it is hard to argue with some of his points. For his part, Chuck Palahniuk, the original author of Fight Club, seems to condone at least some of what Andrew says, as he has tweeted the website with his recommendation.
What do you think of the 'Marla does not exist' fan theory?