How typical are the pages 234-237 of Bret Easton Ellis’ portrayal of Patrick Bateman as a psychopath in the text ‘American Psycho’?‘American Psycho’ is a genre defining novel written by author Bret Easton Ellis in 1991. The novel is known for its vivid description and imagery during acts of extreme violence, dark humour and satire comedy. ‘American Psycho’ has always been an immensely controversial novel, however, now critics and readers have looked past the disturbing imagery and the novel is “generally acknowledged as a modern classic.”‘American Psycho’ is narrated from a first person perspective, allowing the reader inside the mind of our main protagonist Patrick Bateman. This literary technique allows Ellis to completely immerse the reader in Bateman’s life and enables us to see many situations differently, through the eyes of a psychopath. The technique effectively portrays his insanity and shows the sheer variety between the mind of Patrick and the average person. The passage opens to a conversation between Patrick and his ex-girlfriend Bethany. Though from the outside it seems nothing unordinary, from the narration, Patrick seems mischievous, determined and resolute on getting Bethany to follow him home.Practically begging her, Patrick mentions his “three and a half thousand dollar…Durgin Gorham tea set.” Patrick is clearly trying to illustrate his wealth and power; this plainly depicts his complete self-admiration and narcissism, a common routine throughout the novel for Patrick, and of a psychopath. The pleading and begging shows Patrick as soft hearted to Bethany, he looks as if he just wants to have some more fun, he is manipulating her image of him and making it hard for her to say no. A psychopathic trait.Throughout the novel Patrick experiences many random oscillations in his mood, fluctuating between different feelings without reason. Throughout the conversation at the opening of the passage, Patrick seems happy and relaxed, inexplicably this changes, . Patrick obviously wants to kill Bethany, yet we don’t know why. This aimlessness and lack of responsibility is habitual of a psychopath and is displayed effortlessly by Ellis. Though the moments at which Patrick’s mood suddenly changes may be random, there is always a build-up, preparing the reader. Sudden glimpses of anger through Ellis’ specific choice or adjectives and verbs. “I say, grabbing her shoulders… she groans, protesting weakly… I say, warning her”, the text reads in a light-hearted manner, however the words used seem aggressive, “grabbing”, rather than saying placing or laying, the act becomes less “good naturedly” and more malicious and threatening. These subtle phrases forebode violence and anger.While Patrick performs general activities such as talking and socialising or working out, sentence structure is short, little description other than quick physical movements, “I turn around, still walking, but backward now.” This is quite the opposite to most other novels, description often comes from moments of thought and actions, such as violence and fighting are portrayed in short sentences to make them flow fluently, yet in this novel, thoughts are short and precise. This sentence structure shows Patrick’s alienation from society, his ignorance and callousness of others, emphasising his narcissist image, self-indulgence and need to satisfy his own pleasures.The length of sentences during his killings and murders are long, to represent the unrelenting nature of his violence, continuous pain and torture and powerful imagery hold our attention. The writing style seems almost “step by step”, “I stretch her arms out, placing her hands out on thick wooden boards, palms up…” sentences are kept fluent by the excessive use of commas and this creates urgency in the writing, this urgency can also be seen at points in the novel where Patrick is taking drugs. “I slam the door and start shovelling the coke from the envelope into my nose” the comparison shows that the violence is like a drug to Patrick, the urgency, is his need for “a fix”.Patrick uses violence, to overpower his victims, to feel superior. He is over the top, “spraying her face with spit, but it’s covered with so much Mace that she probably can’t even feel it, so I Mace her again.” He needs his victims to be powerless, “not even screams come out anymore”. Nailing her hands to the boards makes “it impossible for her to sit-up,” or to move yet even after wards he keeps shooting “until they’re both covered”. Patrick’s need for control over people and his possessiveness is a psychopathic trait and becomes more evident through this passage. “What the fuck are you doing with Robert Hall?” After not seeing or talking to Bethany since his years in college, he kills her seemingly over the fact she is now in a relationship with someone. This makes Patrick feel inferior and that he has lost her, even after not talking to her for years, he cannot control her which makes him angry.Ellis portrays Bateman’s psychotic nature by making him seem less human and using language to mimic the traits of a psychopath. Callousness is perhaps the most identifiable symptom of a psychopath and Ellis illustrates this disregard for others by having Patrick feel no emotions related to the pain or suffering of his victims during his torturing. “I have to remove her shoes, which slightly disappoints me,” Ellis has the readers at this moment retching and writhing feeling the torture as it is described in such detail “ force open her mouth, and with the scissors cut out her tongue”, while Patrick is upset that there are “black scuff marks on the stained white oak.”Ellis gives Patrick almost a split personality by altering his spoken and internal dialogue to and about other characters throughout different scenes and scenarios. During the scene at the restraint and outside it, Patrick talks to Bethany generally by name, internally, or in a nice and calm tone , spoken “I really want you to…”. However during the tortures, this changes, his overall appearance is dark and he only refers to Bethany as her or she, “I keep shouting ‘You Bitch!’ at her… She starts pleading… She passes out”Bret Easton Ellis mimics psychopathic traits and symptoms through sentence structure and word play, foreboding violence by manipulating kind or normal acts to make them seem more malevolent and sinister than they naturally would appear. Patrick portrays all the characteristics of an ordinary psychopath through his actions, in terms of torture and killings and his average/ daily routine.


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