The themes of Split directed by M. Night Shyamalan

11 May 2023
M. Night Shyamalan's "Split" is a gripping psychological thriller that delves into a myriad of themes, each contributing to the film's captivating narrative. Centered around the enigmatic character of Kevin Wendell Crumb, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) with 23 distinct personalities, the movie presents a thought-provoking exploration of the human mind, trauma, identity, power dynamics, survival, and the blurred lines between perception and reality.

By weaving these themes together, "Split" immerses the audience in a harrowing tale that challenges our understanding of the complexities of human nature.

spilt macavoy

1. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative Identity Disorder stands as the core theme of "Split." The film raises awareness about this psychological condition, shedding light on its intricate manifestations. As the narrative unravels, we witness the myriad of identities residing within Kevin's mind, each representing a unique coping mechanism developed in response to severe childhood trauma. "Split" showcases the mind's extraordinary capacity for adaptation, creating a world where different personas coexist, interact, and sometimes clash, driving the plot forward. 

Through Kevin's struggle to manage his internal chaos, the film fosters a dialogue on the consequences of suppressed trauma and the urgent need for empathetic understanding in treating individuals with DID.

Moreover, the portrayal of Kevin's therapist, Dr. Karen Fletcher, provides insight into the complexities of DID and the ethical dilemmas faced by mental health professionals when dealing with such cases. This aspect of the film invites viewers to consider the challenges of diagnosis, treatment, and ethical considerations surrounding mental health care.

2. Trauma and Abuse

The lasting effects of trauma and abuse form a poignant and distressing subtext in "Split." Kevin's fragmented personalities are a direct result of the horrific abuse he endured during his formative years. The film humanizes Kevin, showcasing the tragic consequences of his experiences and offering a glimpse into the shattered psyche of an abuse survivor. 

As we witness his struggles and transformations, "Split" emphasizes the profound impact of trauma on mental health, underscoring the importance of compassion and empathy when dealing with survivors.

In parallel, the experiences of the three young women held captive by Kevin shed light on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable horror. The film serves as a powerful reminder that even amidst the darkest of circumstances, the will to survive and the strength to endure can prevail.

3. Identity and Self

The theme of identity lies at the heart of "Split." Through Kevin's 23 distinct personalities, the film challenges conventional notions of selfhood and explores the complexity of individual identity. Each personality embodies a different facet of Kevin's past, emotions, and experiences, raising questions about the nature of self and how external factors can shape one's identity. 

The struggle for dominance among Kevin's personalities creates internal conflicts that drive the film's suspenseful plot.

Furthermore, the captives' attempt to assert their identities in the face of captivity illustrates the innate desire for autonomy and control over one's life, even in the most dire situations. The exploration of identity in "Split" invites viewers to contemplate the malleability of the self and how one's past can haunt and influence their present sense of self.

4. Power and Control

The theme of power and control is intricately woven into "Split," manifesting in both the internal power struggle within Kevin's mind and the external power dynamics between captor and captive. Dennis, one of Kevin's personalities, seeks dominance over the others, exemplifying the battle for control within his fractured psyche. The film exposes the consequences of power abuse and manipulation, prompting us to reflect on the dangers of unchecked authority, even within oneself.

On a larger scale, "Split" portrays the vulnerability of the captives as they strive to reclaim control over their lives. The captives' resilience and resourcefulness highlight the human capacity to resist oppression and fight for survival.

5. Survival and Resilience

Survival and resilience emerge as powerful themes throughout the film. As the three young women are held captive, their determination to survive is put to the ultimate test. The film presents survival as an instinctual response, fueled by the desire to escape a life-threatening situation. Moreover, "Split" suggests that resilience is not confined to physical strength but extends to the mind's ability to adapt and cope with trauma.

In juxtaposing Kevin's internal struggles with the captives' external ordeal, the film emphasizes the universality of the human spirit's resilience. This theme prompts viewers to reflect on their own inner strength and ability to endure hardships.

6. Perception and Reality

"Split" masterfully plays with the audience's perception and challenges our judgments about the characters and their motivations. Throughout the film, Shyamalan skillfully plants subtle clues, leading to unexpected twists and revelations that blur the line between perception and reality. This theme serves as a reminder that the human mind's interpretations can be colored by bias, preconceptions, and limited information.

In addition, the portrayal of mental illness in "Split" raises questions about the reliability of the characters' perceptions and the broader societal stigmas surrounding mental health. By blending perception and reality, the film underscores the complexities of human judgment and encourages viewers to question their own assumptions about others.

Conclusion to the themes of Split

"Split" is a multifaceted masterpiece that delves into the depths of the human mind and psyche. Through its exploration of Dissociative Identity Disorder, trauma, identity, power dynamics, survival, and the intricacies of perception, the film presents an engrossing narrative that leaves audiences contemplating the complexities of the human experience.

"Split" not only entertains with its suspenseful plot but also serves as a powerful catalyst for discussion and introspection on the themes it brings to the fore.

... and it has that classic M. Night Shyamalan twist ending. 


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My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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