American Psychcho Themes

772 Words4 Pages
Andrew Slawson
Professor Morowitz
HNRS 353
1 September 2014
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis The 1991 novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is a satirical story detailing the daily life and internal monologue of late-1980s New York City businessman and serial killer Patrick Bateman, a man devoid of empathy and obsessed with how he presents himself to others. Most of the novel is told in a stream-of-consciousness style from the unreliable point of view of the protagonist, and mistaken identity is a consistent theme throughout the novel. As a result, it becomes difficult to determine whether the events that take place are the delusions of Bateman’s psychotic mind or actual facets of reality.
Pages upon pages of the book are spent with
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The author uses Bateman’s double life as a social critique of young businessmen, as if Bateman’s psychotic personality and nihilistic view of people and existence is the ultimate logical conclusion of such a lifestyle. The book explores existential themes in Bateman’s search for meaning, although his conclusion throughout the book consistently points in a pessimistic direction as Bateman finds his yuppie lifestyle as well as his violent crimes vapid, empty, and unable to quench his inner demons. The violence in the book, while graphic, makes up very little of the book’s actual content, and most of the book dwells upon Bateman’s thoughts rather than the explicit aestheticization of…show more content…
One can see parallels between American Psycho and Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, in which a wealthy bonds trader named Sherman McCoy sees himself as the “master of the universe” and thus above the law when he is put on trial for an accidental murder he committed. Bateman differs from McCoy in that Bateman’s self-image is entirely dependent upon how others perceive him, and he craves validation in order to justify to himself that he is better and more intelligent than those around him. He looks down upon everyone as worthless compared to him and portrays the façade of the perfect man while simultaneously seeking positive feedback from others in order to prop up his ego and keep away the fear that his “mask” could crumble at any moment. This fragile image of the self, according to the author, is a common issue among most people within the upper echelons of the capitalist system, and Bateman’s psychosis is thus intensified by psychological stressors that already exist in modern
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