American Psycho

American Psycho


Bret Easton Ellis

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Themes and Colors
Materialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Identity and Isolation Theme Icon
Monotony and Desensitization Theme Icon
Vice and Violence Theme Icon
The Truth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in American Psycho, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Materialism and Consumption

In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman and his band of incredibly wealthy Wall Street colleagues live lives of utter excess, purchasing nothing but the finest things, wearing only the finest clothes, eating at only the chicest restaurants, and looking down on any who fall short of their standard. These characters are exaggerated stereotypes of the 1980s Wall Street “yuppie” class that Ellis means to critique – often to the point of satire – in his…

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Identity and Isolation

Throughout the novel, instances of consumed and mistaken identity contribute to a growing experience of isolation on the part of both the reader and narrator. Bateman is repeatedly mistaken for other people; when he is out with his friends it is not uncommon for someone to greet him as someone else and not be corrected. These constant moments of mistaken identity suggest that, within the world of the novel, it isn’t really important who somebody…

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Monotony and Desensitization

Patrick Bateman leads a monotonous life. This affects both his behavior and the way he communicates with the reader. In the novel’s second chapter, titled “Morning,” Bateman describes his fastidious and meticulous morning routine, involving exercise, multiple skin- and hair-care products, and a highly-organized breakfast. By introducing the reader to Bateman’s life in this way, Ellis sets up an understanding of our narrator as someone who lives a very specifically regimented life with day after…

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Vice and Violence

Patrick Bateman seems to live off sex and drugs as much as he lives off expensive food, alcohol, and clothing. Early in the novel, his appetite for sex and drugs remains concurrent but distinct from his violent acts, however as things develop and his addictions grow beyond his control, the lines between sex and violence and between drugs and violence are blurred, and Bateman’s vices become intertwined in his torture and murder. This leads him…

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The Truth

Patrick Bateman is an unreliable narrator. By pairing the reader with a storyteller who may or may not be trustworthy in a landscape of drug-addled confusion and hallucination, Ellis creates a world for the reader that is constantly in flux and unstable, mimicking the experience of being inside the mind of a deranged and depraved serial killer and, ultimately, revealing the possibility for the spark of an “American psycho” to be dormant within each of…

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