Subtle Sign Posts: Uncovering Moral Meaning in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho
Thompson, John Bryan
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CitationThompson, John Bryan. 2020. Subtle Sign Posts: Uncovering Moral Meaning in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractSince its publication, American Psycho has been a challenging novel for critical interpretation. This thesis next seeks to build on the work of past and present critical responses toward American Psycho by considering unexplored places of potential meaning within the novel. After exploring the history of critical reaction toward American Psycho and comparing it to the larger serial killer novel genre, the thesis argues that “sign posts” within the novel—specifically references to Les Miserables and The Patty Winters Show—guide the reader toward a realization that American Psycho is a deeply satirical novel which stands in moral judgment of the actions of its narrator, Patrick Bateman. Contrary to the assumption put forth by some critics, the novel contains a moral voice through these sign posts. In other words, the burden of moral disgust at the violence, objectification, extreme consumerism, classism, and sexism within the novel does not rest entirely upon the reader. Rather, the sign posts within American Psycho guide the reader toward moral judgment.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365607