MOTW: Memorable Quotes from "Fight Club"

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A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground "fight clubs" forming in every town, until it starts an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
August 28th, 2013

MOTW: Memorable Quotes from "Fight Club"

"Fight Club" was arguably one of the best films of the 1990s. With its all-star cast, pull-no-punches take on modern life, and its infinitely quotable lines, it's rightfully earned its place in modern pop culture. Here are some of the most quotable lines from the film and their contexts.

"It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything."

This line is said to the Narrator by Tyler when the former has lye on his hand and is experiencing a chemical burn. Tyler is trying to make the Narrator face up to his pain and move past it, rather than hiding. The quote suggests that thoughts of repercussions from society and losing what makes life comfortable hold people back from achieving their true potential. When all of the everyday constraints, such as jobs, homes, or society in general are removed, people can do whatever they want to with only natural consequences to worry about, according to Tyler's philosophy.

"The people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we connect your calls, we guard you while you sleep. Donot**** with us.''

Late in the film, after the police investigate the Fight Club, Tyler and some members of Project Mayhem collect the investigator, corner him in a bathroom, and threaten to castrate him, leading to the above quote. Anyone who works in a blue-collar job and feels put-upon can relate to this quote. Without the millions of maintenance workers and other support workers, society would fall apart. This leads on to the next quote:

"Society's taught us that we're going to be actors, and supermodels, and rock stars...but we're not."

Not everyone can be cream of the crop, glamorous and famous, because society needs a larger base of blue-collar workers to support its infrastructure. In addition, lucrative careers are hard to get into and there's a lot of competition. Not everyone has what it takes. It could be seen as a commentary on the current economy: anyone who's been told that jobs are available out of college is probably in for a rude awakening.

"I look like you want to look, I **** like you want to ****, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways you are not."

This is perhaps one of the most blatant clues to Tyler's true identity in the film. He isn't a real person; he's the outward manifestation of the Narrator'sid.In Freudian theory, theidis the purest form of desire and survival, existing without thought for others' needs. The Narrator yearned to break free from his dreary corporate lifestyle, but he needed Tyler's influence to help him do so.

"I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

This is nearly the first interaction Tyler has with the Narrator. Tyler wants to be in a fight or at least to be injured so he can know what it feels like to be alive. After all, he believes life is about struggle, pain, and hardship. He also wants the Narrator to break out of his timid shell by committing violence. This is exemplified when one of the assignments given to Fight Club members is to start and lose a fight.

"How can you know yourself if you've never been in a fight?"

To Tyler, fighting is the ultimate competition, using all your strength and skill to make sure you prevail and come out alive. Most people have psychological limits on their minds and bodies, but these drop when people are in danger. Tyler wants the Narrator to know what he's really capable by making him face the most stressful test possible, which is combat.

"I know this because Tyler knows this."

For once, a non-Tyler quote, at least from a certain point of view. The Narrator repeats this phrase several times throughout the film, such as his cross-country trek to find Tyler when he's going places he's already been as Tyler. He also knows Project Mayhem's plans, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

"The first rule of Fight Club..."

This is the most quotable line in the film, usually followed by the second rule (do not talk about Fight Club. It's also an experiment in reverse psychology: Tyler wants people to join his movement, and this can only be done by spreading the word, unless he relies on people randomly wandering across occurring fights.

Notice how most of the film's most memorable quotes come from Tyler? It's a symbol of how charismatic he is, and how easy it is for people to begin thinking that his philosophy might be a good idea. "Fight Club" was certainly one of the most influential and popular movies of the 1990s, and this was mainly because of its dialogue and compelling storyline.