Cogs in the Machine

An Analysis of American Psycho


  • Rachel Keeler Ball State University



American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is a post modern satire of the 1980s American culture. In this essay, I argue that Ellis uses the facets of a serial killer to methodically break down the impact that trickledown economics had on marginalized communities in the U.S. Trickledown economics is a tax policy which posits that favoring the rich in terms of tax breaks, allows the the wealthy to trickledown to the masses. While a seemingly good theory, the results devastated marginalized communities throughout the nation as the richer got richer and the poor got poorer. Ellis’ novel establishes Bateman as the stand-in for this type of unchecked capitalism, and his violence is a representation of this. For example, Ellis’ depiction of Bateman as a product killer establishes how capitalism treats its victims before leaving them behind in the form of the homeless and marginalized. Furthermore, these people become Bateman’s victims, who in the true crime community are known as the “less dead.” This is Ellis’ commentary on how the justice system treats these individuals already and why Bateman ultimately gets away with his crimes.


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How to Cite

Keeler, R. (2023). Cogs in the Machine: An Analysis of American Psycho. Digital Literature Review, 10(1), 62–73.

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