American Psycho

American Psycho

Les Misérables Symbol Analysis

Les Misérables Symbol Icon

The musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables opened on Broadway in 1987 and instantly became a smash success. The show was everywhere, with its logo and music being seen and heard around New York and the rest of the country. It was, for a time, very difficult to get a ticket to, as going to see the show was the hot new thing for all New York elites and other theatergoers to do. The show, its poster, and its music appear incredibly often throughout the novel (until its popularity seems to be usurped by a fictitious production of The Threepenny Opera in the last two chapters). That Bateman and his friends all know and have seen the musical shows their status as wealthy enough to get a ticket and their connection to popular culture, while simultaneously grounding them in the real pop culture of the time period.

The musical itself is a melodramatic tale about the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris. While the causes of the actual 1832 rebellion were complex, the musical largely portrays it as an uprising of the poor against their oppressors. The musical is, then, primarily about class struggle, “the haves and the have-nots,” and the tensions created when the gap between the most wealthy and the poorest members of a society begins to greatly increase – just what was happening in New York in the 1980s. The reader is reminded of this parallel between the musical’s content and American Psycho’s own dealings with class each of the many times the musical is referenced. The fact that it is the wealthy characters of the novel who love and attend Les Misérables as a kind of status symbol without ever coming close to absorbing its themes about inequality and inhumanity only heightens the irony of the symbol.

Les Misérables Quotes in American Psycho

The American Psycho quotes below all refer to the symbol of Les Misérables. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of American Psycho published in 1991.
April Fools Quotes

ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Misérables on its side blocking his view…

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker), Timothy Price
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Taxi Driver Quotes

While walking back to the highway, I stop, choke back a sob, my throat tightens. “I just want to…” Facing the skyline, through all the baby talk, I murmur, “keep the game going.” As I stand, frozen in my position, an old woman emerges behind a Threepenny Opera poster at a deserted bus stop and she’s homeless and begging, hobbling over, her face covered with sores that look like bugs, holding out a shaking red hand. “Oh will you please go away?” I sigh. She tells me to get a haircut.

Related Characters: Patrick Bateman (speaker)
Related Symbols: Les Misérables
Page Number: 394
Explanation and Analysis:
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Les Misérables Symbol Timeline in American Psycho

The timeline below shows where the symbol Les Misérables appears in American Psycho. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
April Fools
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
...bank in red graffiti letters. Suddenly, a bus pulls up with an advertisement for “ Les Misérables ” and blocks the view. (full context)
Dry Cleaners
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
...he’s busy on the few dates she proposes (once because he has tickets to “ Les Misérables ”), he just tells her he’ll call and leaves quickly. (full context)
Video Store then D’Agostino’s
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
...fruit, Perrier water, and other items. Outside he sees a bum sitting beneath a “ Les Misérables ” poster, and tells him he needs a shave. All at once, Bateman can start... (full context)
Facial
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
...days ago. While they settle in, one of the girls hums a song from “ Les Misérables ” and Bateman tells Helga, in detail, about one of his methods for torturing women.... (full context)
Tuesday
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
...off and continues walking through the moonlit city. He spots a torn playbill for “ Les Misérables ” blowing down the sidewalk. Eventually he comes across a homeless man and his dog,... (full context)
A Glimpse of a Thursday Afternoon
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
...his mouth and immediately throws up. He stops to kiss the face on a “ Les Misérables ” poster. He passes a man who recognizes him and calls him by the wrong... (full context)
Yale Club
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
...Only one stall is in use, and he hears Luis whistling a song from “ Les Misérables .” He approaches the stall and comes up behind Luis. Slowly, he raises his hands... (full context)
Girls
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
...Sabrina, who isn’t blonde. Bateman brings the two women into the living room, the “ Les Misérables ” album playing, and asks them if they want to know what he does for... (full context)
Birthday, Brothers
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
...They make small talk over dinner, until an extremely attractive woman (blonde, carrying a “ Les Misérables ” program) stops by their table to say hello to Sean, who pays her absolutely... (full context)