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“The American Psycho” & “The Bell Jar” Coursework Sample

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“…This indispensable distinctive feature of the sociopath is non in itself evil or barbarous. but combined with perverse appetencies or with an remarkably hostile or aggressive disposition. the deficiency of these normal restraints can ensue in an explosive and unsafe bundle. ”

Within “The American Psycho” . Bret Easton Ellis composes a narrative which attempts to instil in us the thought that “that society is responsible for making the warped aspirations of people like Patrick Bateman…” the chief supporter and consecutive slayer within the novel.

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Similarly. Sylvia Plath creates the character Esther Greenwood. the supporter and storyteller of “The Bell Jar” . However the novel has been described as a “thinly veiled autobiography of the life of Plath set in the 1950s Boston” .

Bret Easton Ellis’ parents separated while he was really immature and his male parent was a heavy-drinker. Although his parent’s had divorced. his male parent had an huge influence over his life which would look to be preponderantly negative. During an interview.

Bret Easton Ellis had referred to his male parent as “the kind of individual who was wholly obsessed with position and about have oning the right suits and having a certain sort of auto and staying at a certain sort of eating house regardless of whether these things gave him pleasance or not” . It is clear that this actuality is what helped to determine the focal subjects within The American Psycho where Patrick Bateman may be stand foring the sinister world of the universe and at the same clip. unwraping the superficial nature of society. In the late 80’s. early 90’s society wanted to take ownership of this glamourous life style and retain a high position which was besides frequently referred to as “Yuppie Culture” .

“Yuppie” short for “Young Urban Professional” is a term mentioning to members of the upper-middle category in their 20’s or 30’s and were good known for their singular outgo and compulsion over societal position among their equals. In the viciously cagey novel. Bret Easton Ellis illustrates a Western “yuppie” society – so caught up in this beguiling image that they become wholly unmindful of world. and content with life in this trancelike universe – even before the novel begins by citing the Talking Heads “And as things fell apart cipher paid much attention” . From the inlay on. it could be said that the reader is so led to “viewing the work from its beginning as a commentary on a society gone wrong” .

Whilst the American Psycho is constructed with parts of the author’s life. The Bell Jar is an autobiographical novel in a slightly fictionalised signifier. Sylvia Plath. who is chiefly known as an exceeding poet instead than novelist. struggled with a mental unwellness until February 1963 when she ended her life at the age of 31 which seems to be the way of Greenwood. Many people would hold that Sylvia Plath’s mental unwellness was down to the work forces she had within her life whilst others would hold that it was down to society. Nevertheless. within The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath efforts to non impute Esther’s mental unwellness and instability to work forces. society or herself therefore non labelling the character’s life.

Within The American Psycho. the character Bateman may be stand foring the superficial nature of society as the reader is able to see that on the surface he is run intoing the demands of this “yuppie culture” by his ceaseless demand to buy frivolous and unneeded points for illustration. while at the same clip. demonstrates the battle between the loss of individuality and compulsion with philistinism – a subject besides shaped by the writers ain life. When going a successful writer. Bret Easton Ellis found enormous wealth and described working on The American Psycho as his “way of contending against [ himself ] stealing into a certain sort of life style. ” This could account for why the characters’ loss of individuality is apparently effortless and allows Bateman to suit in with the remainder of society – by during the twenty-four hours. looking. dressing and acting like any other “sane” person.

However. Sylvia Plath presents a different attitude on Greenwood’s feelings towards this yuppie characteristic and that can be seen with “…all I could believe about was the Rosenbergs and how stupid I’d been to purchase all those uncomfortable. expensive apparels. hanging hitch as fish in my closet…” ( page 2 ) taging one of first contrasts between the two supporters. Whilst Bateman feels this is the manner to act. purchasing infinite Numberss of new suits. tickers and ties. looking to hold semi-internalised this “yuppie” civilization to give himself a sense of dignity. Greenwood sees it as a pointless exercising and even declinations it in the beginning of the novel.

Throughout The American Psycho. Bateman invariably spends money on unneeded points. nutrient. drinks and expensive gifts. This could be “part of the thought of the character. that everything is so empty [ in his life ] . although he has dozenss of money he’s invariably purchasing things…to fill this void…part of make fulling that nothingness is seeking to maintain up with the Joneses. so to talk. ” This explains why the character Bateman is covetous of his brother when he is able to acquire a reserve made consecutive off with “Dorsia” . a new high-class eating house. This thought of “keeping up with the Joneses” within The Bell Jar is seen through the subjects consumerism and planetary domination – which can be seen as “suffocating and stifling” Greenwood. The American Psycho exemplifies society’s overpowering mercenary mentality when the characters Bateman and Evelyn go out to dinner and he offers her a urinal bar covered in cocoa and wrapped in epicurean Godiva packaging. “I adore Godiva” Her face is now one long agonised face mask and. shuddering. she coughs. “…it’s merely so minty” .

“I adore Godiva” could be grounds of society’s intense consumer civilization and degeneracy at that clip as Evelyn eats the bar declining to acknowledge that it tastes despicable since Bateman had purchased it from Godiva. The shallow nature of society meant people would be rather happy to digest something negative if it had a outstanding interior decorator label attached to it. This attitude that materialist expensive points take precedency over everything else within society can besides be seen The Bell Jar when Greenwood tells another character that she and her friend. Doreen are traveling to a party. His answer is “That sounds deadening. ’… “Whyn’t you both join me for a twosome of drinks in that saloon over at that place? I’ve some friends waiting as well” . ( Page 3 ) . It would look that Sylvia Plath is seeking to convey the thought that within this society. the idea of imbibing expensive trade names of intoxicant with familiarities has surpassed the thought of it being a societal activity and appears to be more “pleasurable” than any other activity. Throughout both The American Psycho and The Bell Jar. it is “fun” to imbibe with fellow yuppies more than anything else and it is something the bulk of characters enjoy. This in bend makes the endeavour rather humdrum as it is something you have to make in order to retain position.

“Materialism and conspicuous ingestion [ is seen to take ] precedency over human decency and virtue” throughout both novels. peculiarly within The American Psycho. With the usage of high-status interior decorator labels. Elis clearly illustrates this type of society on page 110: “I count three silk-crepe ties. one Versace silk-satin woven tie. to silk foulard ties. one silk Kenzo. two silk Jacquard ties. The aromas of Xeryus and Tuscany and Armani and Obsession and Polo and Grey Flannel and even Antaeus mingle. wafting into each other. lifting from the suits and into the air. organizing their ain mixture: a cold and disgusting perfume” Here. the description of apparels and aromas is wholly barren in the mentioning of human life. However. the adjectives “cold and sickening” may be mentioning to society at that clip. There is besides great significance in the fact that Elis has Bateman mentioning to the suits and aromas by their correct name throughout the novel as there is a big sum of evident mistaken individuality from the beginning to the terminal.

In the novel. Elis describes each of the different characters in rather a similar mode. The 1980s was epitomized by the addition of volume and size. This was an imperative factor in adjustment in among the “yuppies” of society and a manner played upon within The American Psycho and is seen in the descriptions of Bateman’s flat in a New York hotel and an flat of one of Batemans victims. Everything had to be large and expensive and within the novel. characters are non really concerned with showing any sort of individualism doing the subject of misguided individuality to happen. This outlook is besides seen in a few characters within The Bell Jar. for illustration Lenny. “I wouldn’t have missed Lenny’s topographic point for anything…He’d had a few dividers knocked down to do the topographic point broaden out. he said…Lenny popped out of the backroom. “I got 20 grand’s worth of entering equipment in there” . The imagination of size and worth here farther reinforces the type of society each of the two supporters are in.

Within The American Psycho. one of the most common instances of misguided individuality is between Bateman and Marcus Halberstram as they wear similar suits ( both made by Valentino Couture ) and both wear the same manner of Oliver People spectacless. Additionally. both Bateman and Halberstram do a similar occupation. However. in most instances. when Bateman is mistaken for another character he goes along with the parody. This may be portion of the manner Ellis denunciates society as the biggest function in determining a person’s being and hence. the cause of mental illness. The fresh portrays moving as an person an impossible undertaking within such a society. By going the individual whom society accepts. Bateman has failed in his pursuit of happening his ain individuality before the novel begins. Even moving as a human being seems demanding at times for him. “The deficiency of emotion and empathy for others as symbolized by Bateman is an utmost illustration of what [ an overpoweringly hollow and mercenary society ] can make to a individual.

Emotions is what makes a human human…”This may be farther showing the thought that within this humdrum society. worlds are “…some sort of abstraction…” and “…only an entity…” so it makes no difference what name they are called by. This impression is besides presented within The Bell Jar through the sense of parturiency pervading the novel. However as the supporter disclaims. “I knew absolutely good the autos were doing a noise. and the people in them and behind the illuminated Windowss of the edifices were doing a noise. and the river was doing a noise. but I couldn’t hear a thing. ” It is non society that is seen as “some sort of abstraction” but her. It would so be sensible to assume that the psychopathologic violent onslaughts may be Ellis’s manner of interrupting this womb-to-tomb modus operandi and leting the supporter to experience something and let go of his defeat towards the universe. The character Greenwood is able to experience “alive” when in the bathroom. “I ne’er experience so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath…The longer I lay at that place in the clear hot H2O the purer I felt…” demoing the diverse ways in which each supporter efforts to cover with the force per unit areas of a society which leads them to psychopathy however.

When characters do wish to demo some differentiation between themselves and society within The American Psycho. it would merely be shown through fiddling differences in their interior decorator vesture. aroma. hairdo. occupation or eating house engagements. However. although fiddling. these minor differences appear to make enviousness and apprehensiveness within the other characters. In the novel this can be seen rather frequently. for illustration when Bateman is with his equals comparing concern cards and he panics when he sees that a peer’s card is superior to his.

Most conversations throughout the text are on restaurant engagements and frock sense and for the most portion. there are no clear differentiations between which character is speaking between Batemans narrative. The fresh clearly depicts that this is a society where there are barely any distinguishing characteristics and it becomes hard to gain which character is which with any certainty. However. this is ne’er a concern to anyone and is demonstrated in the chapter “Another Night” ( page 320-321 ) :

“I acquire back on the other line.“Bateman. I know this sounds like an impossibility” . McDermott says. “But the nothingness is really widening. ” “I am non into Mexican” . Van Patten provinces. “But delay. we’re non holding Mexican are we? ” I say. “Am I confused? Aren’t we traveling to Zeus Bar? ” “No. moron” . McDermott tongues. “We couldn’t acquire into Zeus Bar. Kaktus. Kaktus at nine. ” “But I don’t want Mexican” . Van Patten says.

“But you. Van Patten. made the reservation” . McDermott bellows. “I don’t either” . I say all of a sudden. “Why Mexican? ”It’s non “Mexican” Mexican” . McDermott says. exasperated. “It’s something called Nouvelle Mexicana. tappa. or something other South of the boundary line thing. Something like that. Keep on. My call waiting. ”

The immature conversation does non decide anything and the call goes on to be invariably interrupted by the engineering of conference naming as “calls wait. lines cross. reserves are made and unmade. all in the same empty infinite. ” This description could be seen as an incarnation of Bateman’s life within the novel as a batch appears to travel on throughout his twenty-four hours in footings of the usage of engineering. miscommunication. determinations invariably being changed and no touchable relationships being built. However. at that place seems to be no substance to any of the other characters and they are all making these things in “the same empty space” . the society they are in. The really confused nature of this conversation and many others within the fresh epitomises the entire deficiency of connexion felt within society. As there is no distinction between the characters other than the supporter. it would do no difference if the names or businesss of the characters were switched around as no other characters are developed throughout the novel.

Unlike The Bell Jar where characters are developed and relationships can be acquired. the deficiency of character development within The American Psycho means that the male characters see nil in the female characters and frailty versa – apart from qualities likely to be found in a “lonely hearts” advertizement – for illustration. “single” . “attractive” . “good sense of humour” and “professional” . This could account for the changeless swapping of “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” within the novel. although Evelyn is the girlfriend of Bateman. he is invariably traveling on “dates” with other adult females and throughout most portion of the novel is holding an matter with another characters fiance . Courtney. Cipher seems to hold meaningful conversations and the bulk of the duologue within the fresh appears to be based around nonmeaningful lists of dishes. interior decorator labels or drinks.

Elis demonstrates that this society holds such materialist things in a higher regard than profound human interaction in the subdivision of the novel where Bateman is on a day of the month with another miss. He is so uninterested in holding a conversation with her that he starts to name drinks in his caput while she speaks. “J & A ; B I am believing. Glass of J & A ; B in my right manus I am believing. Hand I am believing. Charivari. Shirt from Charivari. Fusilli I am thinking…” Within the Bell Jar. Greenwood efforts to conform to this designer/drink naming society without to the full understanding it. Plath makes this apparent when Greenwood says. “Ordering drinks ever floored me. I didn’t know whiskey from gin and ne’er managed to acquire anything I truly liked the gustatory sensation of” . The fact that Greenwood has to conform to these crazes within the novel and Bateman tends to hold such crazes on his throughout the novel could each be adding to this build-up of insanity prevalent within the novel.

The construction of both novels may besides be the authors’ efforts at farther seting across this subject of mental illness. The short. confused sentences seen within each novel may be representative of how the supporters feel within these disconnected societies. For case. within The American Psycho. whilst Bateman is walking along to run into his secretary. Jean. he is believing: “An accident has happened. An ambulance is parked at the kerb. A heap of bowels prevarications on the pavement in a pool of blood. I buy a really difficult apple…” ( page 371 ) . He clearly feels no connexion between himself and society. Within The Bell Jar. an illustration of the short. confused sentences bespeaking a non-existent relationship between Greenwood and society is: “I was supposed to be holding the clip of my life. I was supposed to be the enviousness of thousands…but I couldn’t acquire myself to respond. I felt really still and really empty. the manner a twister must experience. traveling dully along in the center of the environing agitation. ” The imagination if a twister inside of a environing “hullabaloo” brings about the subject of asphyxiation and parturiency one time more. This is a esthesis that each writer is able to exemplify. Each supporter appears to experience “suffocated” by society. which in bend leads to their mental illness.

The confused sentences and Ellis’s inclination to leap about different hours of the twenty-four hours and yearss of the hebdomad without doing it expressed to the reader indicates “a disagreement between Bateman’s explicit narrative and the “silent” implicit narrative” This incompatibility between what is really go oning and what the storyteller – supporter would wish to see happen creates a feeling of uncertainness within the reader and the demand to oppugn whether or non what he is stating is true. A clear illustration of this is Bateman’s onslaught on another character. Luis Carruthers. Bateman grabs Luis’ cervix. merely above his Adams apple. nevertheless he starts “to squeezing. fastening [ his ] clasp. but it’s free plenty to allow Luis turn around-still in slow motion” ( page 158 ) . Bateman is purportedly strangulating the other character. but he is still able to turn around. Bateman so goes on to state. “ [ Luis’ ] palpebras waver for an blink of an eye. so widened. which is precisely what I want. I want to see Luis’ face contort and bend purple and I want to be the last face. the last thing Luis sees before he dies…until his ain gurgling’s. accompanied by the crunching of his windpipe. submerge everything else out. ”

This may besides be bespeaking Batemans misperception of what is really go oning and what he would wish to see. In most instances. the other characters reactions to what the supporter says or does back up this thought of Bateman’s mis-narration of certain events. “ [ Luis ] looks down at [ Bateman’s ] carpuss and for a minute wavers. as if he’s undecided about something. and so he lowers his head” and looking fondly and merely “part-awkwardly” busss Batemans wrist. After Bateman’s supposed violent onslaught. his victim is narrated to hold kissed his carpus instead than do an enterprise to get away and the lone daze that can be seen is when Luis asks “God. Patrick…Why here? ” . Luis’ reaction gives the reader clearance to presume that Bateman may hold really been doing an effort to beg him instead than assail him. Throughout the novel the reader is besides able to see incidents where Bateman’s responses are mistaken for something else or are wholly overlooked.

As seen in American Psycho. the confused sentences within The Bell Jar may be representative of Greenwoods place on the outskirts of this disconnected society. Throughout the novel. while Greenwood interacts with the other characters. she misses subdivisions of the conversation. for illustration when talking to Betsy. “…That’s astonishing. ” I said. “Amazing”

…After 19 old ages of running after good Markss and awards and grants of one kind and another. I was allowing up. decelerating down. dropping clean out of the race. “Why didn’t you come along to the pelt show with us? ” Betsy asked. I had the feeling she was reiterating herself. and she’d asked me the same inquiry about a minute ago. merely I couldn’t have been listening. ” ( page 29-30 )

Another structural device used within The American Psycho is the heavy humdrum naming seen throughout the novel. which could perchance be Elis’ manner of showing to the reader that society is the cause of madness. Chapters such as “Genesis” . “Whitney Houston” . “Huey Lewis” and “The News” are merely mind-numbing descriptions of things such as two-channel equipment. training merchandises. nutrient. singers/musicians etc. While this is rather boring for the reader. these lists may be in-fact be stand foring modern society. and the regularity of these mind-numbing descriptions emphasise the manner in which stuff and superficial things have become the Centre of our attending instead than human relationships. “These transitions are obviously non designed to please” . Ellis seems to be dismaying the reader by seting what is met on a day-to-day footing. such as passing a great trade of money on otiose points into “a literary text. ”The obtuseness of these long humdrum lists may be stand foring how dull and mechanical society has become and it is apparent to the reader that as the novel goes on and these lists increase going even more backbreaking. Bateman’s psychopathy additions going more tangible.

Taking the whole novel into history it is “a sequence of eating house repasts. parties and nines – interrupted by episodes of psychopathologic force and turns of heartless sexual athleticism” . if these episodes were non in topographic point. Batemans life would be a everyday filled with eternal lists and descriptions of interior decorator labels. As with taking The Bell Jar into history as a whole. it excessively is a sequence of this yuppie life style interrupted by episodes of psychotic turns. this subject of imprisonment within society of import to the development of mental illness.

Bateman’s gruesomely violent actions within the narrative “are some of the most factual and research-based subdivisions of the novel” based on existent instances of consecutive slayers and Greenword’s life-events are all based on that of Plath further back uping the statement that the writers are coercing the reader to face issues society would instead disregard and using the supporter within each novel to deduce to their readers that this shallowness seen within society is what begins psychopathy within those “nominally cultured and civilised” persons.


  1. The American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  2. The Bell Jar – Syliva Plath
  3. hypertext transfer protocol: //en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Yuppie
  4. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. galilean-library. org/site/index. php? /page/index. html/_/essays/literatureandfilm/american-psycho-reinterpreted-r90
  5. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. crimeculture. com/Contents/Articles-Winter09/baker. hypertext markup language
  6. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. suite101. com/content/lack-of-individuality-and-differentiation-in-american-psycho-book-a254860
  7. hypertext transfer protocol: //hi. baidu. com/ % B6 % BE % D2 % B6 % C7 % E0/blog/item/71f6a6f4121dc5e77709d769. hypertext markup languagehypertext transfer protocol: //www. suite101. com/content/lack-of-individuality-and-differentiation-in-american-psycho-book-a254860
  8. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. fact-index. com/a/am/american_psycho. hypertext markup language
  9. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. kinowear. com/blog/the-psychotic-yuppie-mentality/
  10. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. wrongplanet. net/postt7899. hypertext markup language
  11. hypertext transfer protocol: //www. Google. co. uk/search? sourceid=navclient & A ; ie=UTF-8 & A ; rlz=1T4ADFA_enGB397GB397 & A ; q=Lykken+Psychopathy % 2c+Sociopathy % 2c+and+Crime hypertext transfer protocol: //www. springerlink. com/content/x0307m53u283640h/

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