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American Psycho

There could be few challenges more difficult than digesting all 399 pages of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. The hero (or is that anti-hero) of the novel is a twenty-six-year-old Wall Street executive who gives new meaning to the word ostentation. The novel is peopled with characters like Patrick Bateman, rich, self-centered, materially-oriented, nihilistic yuppies who have emotional breakdowns if their self-esteem is diminished because someone else in the group landed a richer account, wore a better matched ensemble or has a business card of richer stock and more unique typeset. While many have lambasted the book as nothing more than a laundry listing of trendy nightclubs and restaurants, designer clothes and accessories, and some of the most gratuitous and shock-value violence ever depicted, it appears the author intended such a story to symbolize the greed, decadence and selfishness of the 1980s. Indeed, this milieu is a product of the Reagan era, when the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the homeless were considered a public eyesore manifested by their own lack of will to work, addictions, and a poor attitude. This analysis will demonstrate various aspects of the novel in an effort to show Ellis’ attempt to portray the valueless nature of the 1980s and American materialistic culture through this group of young, wealthy, nihilistic upper-class denizens of New York.

The main character of the novel is in actuality a deranged psychopath who enjoys murdering anyone who offends his particular sense of style. Patrick Bateman is all appearances, but he is damn good at putting on the appearance his select social circle demands of its members. Many argue that psychopaths have the characteristic trait of being totally self-absorbed with no concern or feelings for others. This is painfully true with Bateman, who, though he is a serial killer, is more worried about his appearance and nutrition than the women and men ...

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American Psycho. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:37, May 25, 2020, from