Bret Easton Ellis 'Patrick Bateman: American Psycho'

1403 Words6 Pages
Introduction “...there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, …I simply am not there.” -Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991) How and why does Bret Easton Ellis conflate the characterisation of serial consumerist and serial killer in Patrick Bateman from American Psycho? American Psycho is a 1991 Bret Easton Ellis novel focusing around the antihero Patrick Bateman. Patrick Bateman is a Wall Street investment banker leading a double life as a serial killer. Of central importance to the novel, is how Bret Easton Ellis manages to inflate the characterisation of consumer citizen and criminal, in order to create a nihilistic symbol of the world we live…show more content…
This is identity is used for Patrick Bateman to exist in the Wall Street society he exists in. This world is comprised of consumerist, sexist, misogynistic values, where without the same suit, haircut, apartment, name card, and restaurant reservations, you are deemed inferior to others. The descriptive language portraying this world, labeled as “boring” by critics, stating “the jerky, plotless narrative is boring, … in which brand names replace most nouns and adjectives.” (1991, Plate). This assists in creating the empty culture Bateman is immersed in. The obsession with fashion labels is ironised by Ellis: “Price is wearing a six-button wool and silk suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, a cotton shirt with French cuffs by Behar, a Ralph Lauren silk tie and a leather wing tips by Fratelli Rossetti.” (Ellis 1991, p.5) This establishes the level of detail Bateman goes into when he is describing others around him. This demonstrates Bateman’s obsession with appearance, a huge element in the construction of Bateman’s identity. All those who exist in this world value materialism over authenticity. This empty culture filled with Wall Street clones is merely created as a world of illusions that Bateman has successfully mirrored. Every time he dissects someone’s appearance, he reflects it; he is always wearing very similar clothing, the same haircut, the same ‘horn-rimmed glasses’, he even lives in a…show more content…
It can be argued that Bateman isn’t a character at all, but simply a ‘cipher’ of denoting the empty culture he inhabits. As Elisabeth Young states “[Bateman is] indifferent to art, originality or even pleasure except in so far as his possessions are the newest, brightest, best, most expensive and most fashionable” ( Young 2001, p.8). Batemans identity as this Wall Street yuppie uses the perfect exterior to hide his nihilism; this depersonalisation is ironically juxtaposed to the “personal names” given to his clothing- Ralph Lauren, Geoffrey Beene, and Enrico Hidonlin. Bateman’s subjectivity based the material and superficial expression for the cosmopolitan lifestyle have become the building blocks for his identity communicating his social desirability and status, articulating his cultural body. Bateman himself acknowledges this mask saying, “My mask of sanity was a victim of impending slippage” (referance) Jumped to clash too soon, have serial killer before the clash referring to the deconstruction of his Wall Street yuppie illusion. Ellis mobilises thorughut the novel This mask extends to the mistaken identity that is prominent throughout the novel particularly with Bateman himself. “Owen has mistaken me for Marcus Halberstam” (pg49), “[Evelyn] has mistaken Norris Powell for Ivana

More about Bret Easton Ellis 'Patrick Bateman: American Psycho'

Open Document