American Psycho Literary analysis project
(Anthropophagy within Anthropology)
“One of the major mistakes people make is that they think manners are only the expression of happy ideas. There’s a whole range of behavior that can be expressed in a mannerly way. That’s what civilization is all about--doing it in a mannerly and not an antagonistic way. One of the places we went wrong was the naturalistic Rousseauian movement of the Sixties in which people said, ‘Why can’t you just say what’s on your mind?’ In civilization there have to be some restraints. If we followed every impulse, we’d be killing one another,” (Miss Manners, Judith Martin). Author Bret Easton Ellis, opens his novel, American Psycho, with a quote on this idea of sociological proprieties. He beckons the reader to wonder what the natural impulse of humanity might be. Some people might think of the bestial cruelty of man, yet no animal could ever be as cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel. In American Psycho, Ellis proposes that many of the sociological cruelties imposed by mankind originate from the enterprise system of capitalism. He portrays the main character, Patrick Bateman, banker and homicidal maniac, as the ultimate capitalist fiend. Patrick Bateman is not only an “American Psycho,” he is also the human embodiment of the effects that capitalism has on society.
American Psycho is told through first person point of view by the main character, Patrick Bateman. Patrick Bateman is indeed, an American psychopath, even referring to himself as one within the first chapter. Furthermore, Bateman is a symbol for capitalism. He is a charming Wall Street businessman who presents himself congenially in public, yet privately, he is a monster with no sense of morality. The contrast between his outer personality and his inner personality, or lack-thereof, is a representation of large-scale businesses that present themselves as wholesome corporations, when in reality they have racist, misogynistic, and overall