Credibility, joy to kill. Enhancing the key aspect


Credibility, for some, is forgone due to the
inaccuracy of their truth. Both Ellis’ Bateman and Milton’s Satan portray
significant unreliable narrators whom reveal inner self-serving ambition. Both
Paradise Lost book one and American Psycho highlight aspects of an unreliable
narrator through their protagonists, this intrigues readers to their
fascinating deception. Nunning (1999)1
states there is “no universal standard of normality, morality, or common sense
on which to judge the narrator”. Therefore, the narrator can be reliable or
unreliable depending on the reader. Arguably Ellis creates an unreliable
narrator through the constant switch between Batemans deranged psychopathic
mind vs society as an external influence of materialism. As Nunning suggests the
reliability of the narrator depends on the reader, therefore for modern readers
of today they would be intrigued to Ellis’ Batemans determination in which he
aims to meet societies expectations of the materialism supressed in 1980
America. However, this would be overruled by himself and joy to kill. Enhancing
the key aspect that unreliable narrators are deemed upon the protagonists will
to serve an opposing and controversial fascination which a reliable narrator
cannot give. Milton’s Satan also conveys key unreliability as Satan is
determined to believe in his own opinion than one of his ruler, God. This puts
Satan in a position of hierarchy compared to the other angels as he is the one
to portray confidence against God. Displaying signs of flaw in his humanity
which contrasts as an opposing quality to a reliable narrator. Leading to
modern readers being fascinated with Satan’s aims as they are never fully aware
if he is telling the truth or just stating opinion to gain support from the

‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power
corrupts absolutely’2
Acton’s words highlight the significant parallel similarity between Milton’s
Satan and Bateman as they both become consumed by inner power. By using the
noun “power” and adjective “corrupt”, Acton puts emphasis on the link between
both Milton’s Satan and Bateman as their tainted control is eternally embodied which
they are completely reliant on. Therefore, some would consider the character of
Milton’s Satan and Bateman being viewed as similar due to each being measured as
immortal in their own all consuming, uncontrollable power.  The idea of Bateman carrying on with his life
after committing to his viciousness in a materialistic domain could be seen as
lucky, as his status and wealth allowed him to consume his brutality and get
away with crime; these are the factors that make Bateman immortal to the
external environment surrounding him. Contrastingly, Satan is banished to live
the rest of his life in Hell. Which unlike Bateman is an action made by God in
order to punish Milton’s Satan. However, this chastisement allowed Satan to
become his own leader and was able to think for himself. Leading to Milton
displaying Satan’s power as ambitious, in which he aims to do everything possible
to get vengeance of God whilst he is eternally trapped in Hell. Each give
readers an engaging invite to one another’s deception that is hidden through
their dishonesty because neither ever reveal their true intentions of their
actions. Therefore, fascination with an unreliable narrator keeps readers from
knowing the entire truth in both Paradise Lost Book one and American Psycho.

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In both Paradise Lost and American Psycho, Milton
and Ellis present their protagonists as fascinating through their ongoing
struggle with their own humanity. For Satan, he is displayed at his most human with
the use of imperative speeches. An imperative sentence expresses ideas of
advice or order; Satan conveys both ideas by trying to get his word across through
his booming and powerful voice. Milton displays Satan at his most human here as
he is trying to be heard by the fallen; he is trying to gain an understanding. This
is a quality each individual should aim to achieve throughout their life.
Suggesting that perhaps Milton portrayed Satan as inhuman to show the emphasis
on parliamentarians during the civil war who went against the monarchy. However,
through the action of giving the fallen angels no choice and actually switching
to selflessness; Satan becomes inhumane as he is rejecting the idea of free
will; which he fought strongly for in heaven. In contrast, Ellis presents
Bateman as all consumed by self-preservation. Ellis concentrates on the idea of
Bateman protecting himself from anything that could potentially harm him; covering
up and hiding all evidence he has as a serial killer. This is because of
Bateman’s lust to fulfil desire and that desire being to kill, it leads to this
self-preservation becoming a supposed benefit of his fortune and supremacy
which he would have advanced during the time of the Wall Street boom, to live
an elite life was favoured and envied by a populated America who were not considered
privileged. Ellis created Bateman to hide his desires behind his money;
therefore, as Mary McCampbell3
states as he “dehumanised others, he became less human himself”.

For both Bateman and Satan, their fascination is
often dependant on them both being a flawed nature of mankind. To be flawed
refers to having a characterised imperfection or feebleness, both Milton’s Satan
and Bateman share qualities that relate but also differ. Milton’s Satan is
perceived as being a flawed nature of mankind because he is known as a ‘fallen
The adjective fallen reflects the concept of Satan dropping from Heaven into
Hell, this came about because Satan didn’t believe in the life God wanted to
give him and the other angels. A Marxist may favour God banning Satan and
anyone who followed him as they believe in hierarchy and in this circumstance
God is above Satan, correspondingly to the Monarchy Milton faced at this time.
As like, Bateman in American Psycho is a flawed individual as he goes against
how we are meant to act and behave as a human being. To kill another goes
against one of the ten commandments ‘Thou shall not kill’5
which like Milton’s Satan is an appreciation given to us from God. Whether you
believe in Christianity or not, killing someone, let alone homicide, is
breaking the law.  Ellis portrays Bateman
as flawed through his mistreatment towards others. This is displayed in
American Psycho Bateman ridicules and interrogates a homeless man then attacks
him and his dog. After telling him to “get a job”6
he horrifically efforts a blade into the man’s eyes and tramps on his dog’s
legs. In this light Ellis portrays Bateman as one who has a flawed nature as
Bateman clearly believes the homeless man is so far beneath him he cannot aid
him with his own maintenance; believing the homeless man is that unworthy to
live. To contemporary readers they could interpret Bateman is trying to justify
in his mind how people on the streets are allowed to live which is naturally
given and not bought by wealth. Therefore, by killing these people Bateman can
validate they have no significance and he can believe his rank and goods give
him worth in comparison.

in both texts is crucial, but possibly the presentation of this fascination is
evoked through inevitable likeliness we as readers feel towards both Milton’s
Satan and Bateman. Despite Satan being a fallen angel Satan is also presented
as a good leader, a Hero. This is displayed through the character of Beelzebub
and how he portrays Satan as his second-hand man. Milton focuses of speeches to
emphasise the importance of one’s potential; through Beelzebub’s speech Satan
is viewed as a great leader. Due to the simple fact Satan is perfectly
compelling to his possibility as leader of Beelzebub and the other fallen
angels.  Satan is described as
“invincible, and rigor soon returns”7.
This short sentence contains two adjectives “invincible” and “rigor”; these
show Satan as a great leader as it conveys he is unbeatable, courageous and
hard. All are convenient qualities any good leader should want to carry,
therefore with Satan having strong will and determination to be this
“invincible” commander full of “rigor” he becomes naturally interesting as he
is displaying honest bravery. As like Milton’s Satan, Bateman becomes a figure
of appeal for readers. Ellis presents the life of an Ivy- League cultured wall
street financier who is vain, enigmatic and suffers from a drug habit. For some
with expensive taste, they could be attracted to Batemans luxurious lifestyle
but I believe he becomes appealing through sharing common ordinary manners
despite him being a psychopath. As like most humans, Bateman struggles with the
fear of not fitting in. Constantly throughout the novel he is trying to prove
himself as a 1980’s Wall Street “yuppie”. Readers who can relate to Bateman may
transmit a similar viewpoint as him. They may feel isolated and will dread never
being suited into a certain scenario, friendship group or anything that is
relevant to the separation they feel. Difference being, when faced with the
terror of not fitting in, Bateman aims to eliminate anyone or anything that secludes
him. A factor in which he does this, other than killing, is through the concept
of drug abuse. Continuously throughout American Psycho cocaine is a reliant for
nearly every character. When attending the Tunnel, Bateman and his pal Price go
to the toilets to intake the drug, Bateman states afterwards he’s not as high
but another glass of alcohol may give his body “a false enough impression to
kick in some kind of rush no matter how weak”8.
This not only displays his dependency on drugs to make him feel something but
how he is so frail inside, mentally not physically, that the use of this drug
could be interpreted as an escape from his fear of not being suited into his
lifestyle. Contrastingly Satan does not have an escape from any inner emotions
but braves through anything he feels and projects it as he needs people to
stand behind him in his battle of vengeance against God. Which could be
compared to Milton putting himself against the monarchy. The difference being
Patrick Bateman is a very isolated man and his unreliability is apparent
through him not being as honourable in a setting of intoxications; Ellis has
fashioned a sphere for the readers that is persistently unstable and makes
Bateman alluring as you sympathise for him.

conclusion, both Milton’s Satan and Bateman’s fascination is driven through the
concept of intriguing readers to their unreliability. Satan is unreliable without
us even being aware; we become clueless to Satan’s overstatements and
dishonesties that are seeped through his brilliant speeches. Due to Satan making
us believe he has become almighty and a solid leader in Hell, as a reader we
are forgetful to the fact Satan and the fallen abilities were permitted by God
and can be made unavailable to them at any point. Milton reveals Satan to
appear grander than he truly is which lures readers into knowing Satan’s
perspective. Satan is an individualist. His attentions chance on his particular
longings, he only observes things in footings of what will transpire to him,
very alike the actions of Patrick Bateman as he too only looks out for himself;
making it missional to put aside care or compassion concerning others. Milton
presents Bateman in a perfect format for his book to be deemed “as one of the
most controversial novels of the twentieth century”9
(Mandel 2011). His character storms off intimacy, intoxications and fortune to
keep himself alive. These factors only increase his dominant feature of being a
psychopath. Being the plain and simple fact readers can never tell if what
Bateman is stating is factual, which expands his unreliability because he jumps
through scenarios which only advance on his insanity triggered by his psychotic

1 Nunning

John Dalberg-Acton

Mary McCampbell 2016

Paradise Lost Book one

The bible – 10 Commandments

American Psycho

Paradise Lost Book one

American Psycho

Mandel 2011