How Venom Is Eddie's Shadow Self

Image Source: Jung Currents

In the craft of storytelling, there’s this thing called the "shadow," which is essentially a character that the “hero” has to confront if they want to overcome an obstacle, achieve growth, and reach their goals.

The character is often a “villain,” but they embody the problematic parts that belong to the hero, which get ignored by subconscious suppression. But the term "shadow" came from Carl Jung's work in psychology and his concept of “shadow work” which was built from Freud's work on repression.

If you’re unfamiliar with the “shadow self,” know that it is the self that’s suppressed from the conscious mind. This is because the shadow self is the negative emotions, thoughts, and behavior that a person is unaware of because they don’t want the negative traits associated with them, but they can surface when a person is triggered. But because they suppress their shadow self so much, they won’t remember their hurtful actions or words after the triggering event has passed.

In other words, the shadow self is the harmful and toxic part of our personalities that we hid away in our subconscious. With that said, the purpose of shadow work is to become aware of our shadow self by confronting and tracing our thoughts, emotions, and behavior through journaling, so we could be able to consciously address our issues. For many people, this means understanding their trauma, making shadow work an emotionally painful process of healing.

This is important though because sometimes people are so traumatized that they develop a split personality. However, The second personality is often not harmful, making the phenomenon confusing. Yet the split personality is used and called The Double in psychological literature and movies under the drama and horror genres. 

The Double is basically the shadow self of the main character, but Freud proposed different theories on how the double functions. The most popular theory that people love and support is the theory that the double is the character’s unconscious mind, or aka the shadow self.

I know that sounds redundant, but I’d like to be clear that it was one of Freud’s theories. The other involved the idea of immorality, that the double is a form of self-preservation from “the destruction of the ego” that’s just “energetic denial of the power of death,” which becomes the reminder of death after the double pass their phase of immorality. 

This death was originally believed to be the double becoming the conscious mind of the character as the sole personality of the person, which is part of the theory that the double is the character’s unconscious mind, but a majority of stories don’t display this death and separate these theories into two.

However, an example of the two theories being one is the film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock since the double of Norman Bates takes over his conscious mind and becomes his sole personality, which sadly was the identical personality of his deceased mother. 

Image Source: What Culture

But then there’s the classic example of "The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" that was published in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson, that actually involves real death since Hyde kills himself when he can’t go back to his original self as Jekyll.

Today, stories like The Nutty Professor and The Hulk don’t involve the death bit and keep the double as the subconscious. In addition, there seems to be a self perversion of the original self since Sherman and Bruce are conscious and address their problems. 

While Buddy Love was removed from Sherman, he learned valuable lessons from his existence. But Bruce is someone that’s the perfect example of anger management since Bruce had to learn what and why certain things trigger the Hulk to appear to be able to use his anger and strength whenever he was needed, showing that the shadow self (negative traits) can be used in a positive way. With that said, I want to say how Venom is the same.

Image Source: WIRED

I know it's kinda weird thinking of Venom as a sort of double, knowing he's an alien symbiote from outer space, but that's why he is a double. A symbiote is an organism that cannot live without a host or partnership. That doesn't necessarily mean a takeover, since there are different types of symbiosis.

The symbiosis that occurs between Venom and Eddie is called Mutualism, which is where both organisms get benefits from their relationship. In real life, this can look like the relationship between sharks and pilot fish since the fish get rid of any parasites on the shark and clean away fragments of food from their teeth. In return, the shark provides the pilot fish protection from predators. 

Between the characters, Venom benefits from being with Eddie since he literally needs a host's metabolic system to eat and digest his meals while Eddie’s life span is extended since he suffers from cancer. Venom can’t cure it, but he does slow down the process. Yet ironically, hosting Venom is equally killing Eddie since he’s a parasite, so the symbiosis relationship might actually be parasitism.

While I love this biological understanding in character creations like Venom, there's an added layer of complexity with making Venom need a compatible host like an organ transplant. Venom so happens to be compatible with Eddie, but why?

The actor Tom Hardy has said it’s because Eddie is a professional coward, making it easy for Venom to push him around. However, I think it’s because Venom sees himself in Eddie. Venom constantly calls Eddie a loser, so why stay with him? Towards the end of the film, it’s revealed it's because Venom is also considered a loser where he comes from.

But how is Venom Eddie’s double? Eddie is a reporter who likes seeking truth and justice. He may have gone about it the wrong way with Drake, but the intention was there. In fact, how he handles his confrontation with him shows how ill-prepared he is when confrontations happen, showing he’s quite a harmless person trying to be powerful with his occupation. 

This is especially true outside his occupation since we see Eddie be nonconfrontational when refuses to tell his noisy neighbors to lower their volume until Venom comes along to scare them to listen to him.

In other words, once Venom entered Eddie’s life, he gain the capability to help himself and other people. Venom might be violent about it, but Eddie will take whatever he can get, though I think the power he feels from Venom is probably the thing he likes the most about being with him. 

Image Source: Tumblr Gallery

Because of this, Eddie’s shadow self is someone who feels powerless, making him feel like a loser. He might not have the ability to help people, but once he experiences Venom’s power, he puts him in check only allowing Venom to hurt and eat bad people. Eddie’s shadow/double, aka Venom, may also like hurting people since it’s what makes them feel powerful, but I’m unsure about this theory. 

My opinion about Venom might be reaching, but it should be noted that a shadow self can also be hurt. They don’t have to be outright evil, sometimes the shadow self is the broken side, someone who feels unimportant, insecure, a loser, an outcast, and more. 

Eddie’s shadow feels powerless which also makes him feel like a loser, but he doesn’t feel this consciously. Instead, Venom had to tell him what he really thinks of himself, which is the same opinion Venom holds of himself since he felt powerless in comparison to everyone else from his planet, like Riot.  

With this in mind, I hope you can start noticing which characters are the protagonist's shadow self or double. 

Hi! Hello! My pronouns are she/her, and I'm a storyteller who loves tea and cats.

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