Patrick Bateman Literature

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In the novel, American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis the maincharacter Patrick Bateman is like a modern-day Ted Bundy. Bateman is handsome, charming and utterly insane. I feel the development and descriptive dedication of Bateman makes him both believable and plausible.

Patrick Bateman strives to be the perfect human being, though he often falls short of his own expectations. He has a meticulous grooming regimen. His morning routine is a perfect example of how he strives for perfection. “In the shower, I use first a water-activated gel cleanser, then a honey almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub.” (26). He usually visits his skin technician, Helga, more than once a week. He works out at Xclusive, his expensive gym, as well as at his apartment for copious amounts of time. Patrick also rates haircuts on how expensive they are, not just on how they actually look.

In terms of education Patrick attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a very expensive boarding school. After graduating he attended Harvard University, eventually getting into Harvard's business school. Bateman is also quite knowledgeable on most aspects of life; he demonstrates superior knowledge of the music he listens to, in-depth knowledge of Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Genesis, Huey Lewis, and other pop artists of his time. He also has up to date information and knowledge on current electronics. Price is of no concern for Bateman, just as long as it sounds expensive and costs the same. Patrick is also up to date on all current events, “ we have to . . . slow down the nuclear arms race, stop terrorism and world hunger . . . find a cure for the AIDS epidemic . . . strengthen laws . . . make college education affordable for middle class . . . and reduce the influence of political action committees.” (15). The Patty Winter's show is a television talk show that seems to pop up throughout the book. Bateman is constantly updating to himself and others a topic of the day, or what he learned from the show's discussions.

Emotionally, Patrick Bateman is a train wreck. He often expresses doubts regarding his own sanity, and he has intermittent psychotic episodes, in which he hallucinates. During one such episode a park bench follows him home. He also experiences feelings of deep depersonalization. He tries to identify himself by getting a grasp on who or what he really is, often during unusual moments. While breaking up with Evelyn he thinks to himself "…there is an idea of Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel my flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I am simply not there." (376,377). While Bateman often tells himself that he is emotionally empty, he still experiences moments of severe anxiety, fury, and anguish often over trivial matters like his inability to get reservations at trendy restaurants. In the middle of dissecting one of his victims, he breaks down, confessing his own insecurities to himself and his corpses, sobbing that he "just wants to be loved" (345). Patrick Bateman is really, two different people. One side is caring, thoughtful, refined and intelligent. The other personality is a heartless psychopath who kills without mercy or regret. Though these two separate personalities tend to blend together they can be seen as two sides of the same coin.

Bateman tries to fit in, often passing as a wonderful human being. Though there are times when his true personality bleeds through his mask of sanity, everyone turns a blind eye. He tells his friends things like, “I'm utterly insane” and “I like to dissect girls” (216) or “My… my need to engage in… homicidal behavior on a massive scale cannot be, um, corrected,” (338), and that he has no other means to express his blocked needs. He also makes his serial killer knowledge publicly known, often telling his friends trivia about Ed Gein and Ted Bundy. Bateman has a tendency to simplify people to the clothing they have on. People are described, since Bateman is the narrator, not by physical characteristics or personality, but by the designer-label clothes they wear. This is often the problem of why people mistake him for others. It is because they're all wearing the same designers, same ties, same horn-rimmed glasses, and same expensive haircuts.

Patrick Bateman is frequently mistaken for someone else, or ignored completely by nearly everyone around him. He is often teased by Evelyn, his fiancée, for being like the boy next door. “Leave Patrick alone, he's the boy next door” (18). Other people who are out of his social group consider him yuppie trash. Paul Owen constantly confuses him for his colleague, Marcus Halberstam, he tells Patrick during dinner “This is a real beehive of, uh, activity, Halberstam,” (215). His lawyer, Harold Carnes, has him pegged as another person as well. Even after confessing every heinous act of murder and rape in a phone message, “I leave a message, admitting everything, leaving nothing out, thirty, forty, a hundred murders . . . finally, after ten minutes of this, I sign off by concluding, “Uh, I'm a pretty sick guy,””. Harold thinks he's someone named Davis playing a joke on him. ““Bateman killing Owen and the escort girl?” He keeps chuckling . . . “I am not one to bad-mouth anyone, your joke was amusing. But come on. . . Bateman's such a bloody ass-kisser, such a brown nosing goody-goody, that I couldn't fully appreciate it.”” (387). It doesn't matter how hard Bateman tries to convince Harold that he has killed dozens of people, he just can't comprehend any of it. People in Bateman's social group simply don't want to listen; they just wait till it's their turn to talk.

These are the elements that make up Patrick Bateman. Part of his being, is what people see of him. Appearance is everything to Bateman. Be it his physique, what clothes he is wearing, how he harbors his emotions, how he deals with his blood lust, what he thinks of people, and how they judge him. Ellis puts so much emphasis into Bateman's character development the end result leaves you feeling as though he could be an actual person, Perhaps your neighbor or someone even closer.