December 21, 2018
American Psycho: Lost Between The Imagination and Reality
In Plato's philosophy of evil he says “to suffer evil is bad, but to do evil is much worse, only we can harm our souls”. Which is exactly what happens to character Patrick Bateman as doing evil and imagining evil become one and the same for him and ruins his mental state. In Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho, the main character and narrator of the story is Patrick Bateman, a 27-year-old well educated, wealthy white male who works on Wall Street. On the surface, Patrick seems to be living the American dream while he often explains in fine detail his morning and work-out routines, his expensive name brand outfits, and fancy restaurants he must make reservations for. However, Patrick openly reveals that he is a serial killer who has brutally murdered hundreds of people and will continue to do so. As the story goes on it becomes clear that Patrick is not to be trusted with anything he says as he naturally spews tons of impossible information, experiments with drugs and blatantly lies to everyone around him. The author himself also leaves evidence that Patrick is not to be trusted and that he is ultimately living in a hallucinatory state. [Patrick Bateman's character is completely unreliable and becomes more insane throughout the novel and as his imaginations take control over him it is easier to realize that he does not murder all of the people in the story as he cannot distinguish his reality and his imagination apart.]
In the novel, there is a talk show called ‘The Patty Winters Show’ which Patrick watches religiously. It is constantly reoccurring throughout the novel as Patrick mentions the topics of the show during his daily routines with limited explanation. ‘The Patty Winters Show’ is the most important symbol as it represents his sanity, and as the story develops, the topics become more absurd. To list some of the topics of the show in the order it begins with “women with multiple personalities”, autism, “Toddler Murderers”, Nazis, “A new sport called dwarf tossing”, “Home abortion kits” and many more. Patrick discovers more about his murderous side as he experiments with violence and sex and drug abuse he slips further into insanity which corresponds to the topics of the show. The more absurd the theme of the show is the more likely Patrick is in a dream-like state. For example in the chapter “Christmas Party”, Patrick first mentions “The Patty Winters Show was about Teenage girls who trade sex for crack”(Ellis 181) and then proceeds to ruin his girlfriends Christmas party by acting like the Grinch and trying to persuade her to leave and do drugs with him. He then steals a limo to go to a “black” club, while shouting racist remarks at all black people there. This shows the madness of this chapter and proves he is hallucinating, for he couldn't have gotten away with all these acts without suffering consequenc...