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Encyclopedia > The Rules of Attraction

The Rules of Attraction is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis published in 1987 and made into a film by the same name in 2002. A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles, California) is an American author. ... Year 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays 1987 Gregorian calendar). ... The Rules of Attraction (2002) is a dark satirical film based on the novel The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ...


Plot summary

The novel is told from a multiple first-person point of view. The main narrators are three students: Paul, Sean and Lauren. A number of other characters also provide first-hand accounts throughout the story, which takes place at the fictional Camden College. The three main characters who rarely attend class end up in a love triangle within a burning calendar of drug runs, Dress to Get Screwed and End of the World parties. Sean Bateman is a fictional character used by author Bret Easton Ellis. ... A love triangle refers to a romantic relationship involving three people. ...

The story begins part of the way through a sentence in order to give the effect that it begins somewhere closer to the middle, rather than at a true beginning. Another interpretation is that the story has neither a beginning nor an ending, which signifies the endless cycle of debauchery in which the characters of the novel engage. This is sometimes mistaken by readers as a typo or the result of a missing page, but in truth it was purposely done by Ellis. The novel also ends in a similar fashion, with the last sentence cut off before it ends.

The major themes that emerge in the novel, as the candid and vulgar Camden college students deal with drug habituation and sex-based relationships, include the death of romance, escapism by listening to music on headphones and watching MTV videos, and the hopeless feeling of inertia that afflicts those who take little time out from partying. The world of The Rules of Attraction is like one where students, some of whom may have studied Nietzsche and the theory of eternal return, are now living lives they've lived before, but with tunnel vision and little belief in an afterworld. Why would these Generation X students believe in this nihilism? As Sean's friend Marc says, while shooting up: "The Kennedy's, man, screwed it... up.... There was this... our mothers were pregnant with us when we... I mean, he... was blown away in '64 and the whole incident ... screwed things up... in a really heavy duty way."

Main characters

  • Sean Bateman - has slept with many of the girls on campus; his first a hippie girl from Pennsylvania with "JIMI Lives!" painted in purple on her door, whose dad is an executive at Visa; another, a very young girl in a toga who makes him think of the last time he had sex sober, if ever. His main love interest is Lauren, who first sleeps with a guy named Steve she can't say a good thing about, while pining for her boyfriend Victor. Sean is oblivious to these sex interests, mainly because he's always high or drunk and has been getting anonymous love letters he thinks are written by Lauren; instead they are from a nameless young woman who speaks in haunting chapters written entirely in italics. Near the end when Sean gets Lauren pregnant he plans to marry her, but they later call it off. This warm Grolsch beer drinking Fender guitarist, who changes his major every term, also has encounters with the fashionable, effeminate Paul, that are usually omitted from his daily entries. Trivia: Sean failed the Camden course "Poetry in the Fifties", but remembers the title of the poem 'Howl,' by Allen Ginsberg.
  • Lauren Hynde - is a painting student who wants to change her major when she learns Jackson Pollock 'freed the line,' finding it a difficult concept to follow, and would prefer spending her money on drugs than art supplies. Her first line: "and it's a story that might bore you but you don't have to listen, she told me, because she always knew it was going to be like that, and it was..." Still a virgin upon entering Camden, the first page of the novel begins with an explicit recounting of her first time on her first weekend at Camden with an NYU film student and a townie who tells a vulgar elephant joke when she awakens. The sex ends in a vomiting incident. Lauren soon takes an interest in Sean, who drives his motorcyle when high, but spends most of the novel missing Victor, while he whores his way around Europe, believing her life would be better if they could be together.
  • Paul Denton - is a bisexual guy who used to date Lauren. He is attracted to Sean and claims that in bed Sean is "crazed, an untamed animal, it was almost scary;" these accounts are entirely absent from Sean's entries. The details of this relationship remain ambiguous. Paul, also, had relationships with two important characters Mitchell and Richard (Dick).

Sean Bateman is a fictional character used by author Bret Easton Ellis. ...

Other characters

  • Victor Johnson — Lauren's boyfriend. Victor took the term off to backpack through Europe, where he country-hopped by plane and boat and stayed in youth hostels, spent one night at a bus stop, smoked hash at the Duomo and in Amsterdam where he also got mugged and saw the Vermeers and Van Goghs, had many flings, and on the island of Crete he lost his tan lines while learning to sing Bruce Springsteen songs in Yugoslavian. An excellent montage of his trip appears as a movie within the movie by Roger Avary. Victor returns to school unable to remember Lauren, who has been gazing at his picture all term, yearning for his return. He is the main supermodel terrorist character in Ellis' later novel, Glamorama, with his name changed to Victor Ward.
  • Clay - Clay is the protagonist of Less Than Zero, aka "the guy from L.A." with only one appearance in this novel. His trademark lines begin "People are afraid to..."
  • Patrick Bateman — Patrick is Sean's older brother, an investment banker who is much more focused and successful than Sean. The brothers loathe each other for their very different outlooks on and approaches to life. As it turns out in Ellis's follow-up novel, American Psycho, Patrick is a psychopathic serial killer who is defined by the brands of his suits, nouvelle cuisine, the excessive cash he gets from his ATM, his love of Phil Collins, his utter lack of any emotions (save greed and disgust), and his finely wrought business card from Pierce and Pierce.
  • The Handsome Dunce — The Handsome Dunce is a cute, blonde 'goon' from Long Island whom Paul loathes himself for adoring. He is harassed by more artsy fags in the Sensory Deprivation Tank, the Camden college pub, on pages 234-236 and is a perfect example of a student suffering from ADHD. Lauren sleeps with him while thinking of Victor. His name is Steve.
  • The Phantom Unnamed Female — The unnamed female student commits suicide after a series of spooky, italicized, short first-person chapters. Her frame of reference is usually one of surmise about the people she observes, mostly Sean; in her lonely voice she questions whether there is ever love and sex together and quotes the Thompson Twins song in this way: "Lay! Your! Hands! On! Me!" She tries to reveal her love for Sean by putting anonymous notes in his mailbox. Sean mistakenly thinks Lauren is writing the notes and so never comes on to her. After a chapter in which she speaks in the third person about her visit to a party that ends with "It's last call," (Mr. Ellis is likely alluding to T.S. Eliot's line "Hurry up, please it's time!" from The Wasteland.) this phantom character slits her wrists in a bathtub that turns "impossibly red." Her last words: "God jesus christ our my nothing saviour[sic]"

Glamorama is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis. ... Less Than Zero is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, published in 1985. ... Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman Patrick Bateman is a fictional character, the protagonist and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and its film adaptation. ... American Psycho is a 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis. ... Psychopathy, or sociopathy, is currently defined in psychiatry and clinical psychology as a condition characterized by lack of empathy [1] [2] or conscience, and poor impulse control [3] [4] or manipulative behaviors. ... Serial killers are individuals who have a history of multiple slayings of victims who were usually unknown to them beforehand. ...

Camden College

Camden College is a fictional liberal arts college in northeastern New Hampshire. In many aspects Camden mirrors Ellis's alma mater, Bennington College and Hampden College, the setting of Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History. Both books contain cross-references to each other's story lines and characters. Tartt mentions the suicide of a freshman girl in passing, while Ellis repeatedly mentions a group of classics majors who "dress like undertakers" and are suspected of staging pagan rituals and slaying farmers in the countryside. Camden College is a fictional liberal arts college which appears in the works of Bret Easton Ellis, Jill Eisenstadt, and in Jonathan Lethams book The Fortress of Solitude. ... Official language(s) English Capital Concord Largest city Manchester Area  Ranked 46th  - Total 9,359 sq mi (24,239 km²)  - Width 68 miles (110 km)  - Length 190 miles (305 km)  - % water 3. ... Bennington College is a liberal arts college located in Bennington, Vermont. ... Donna Tartt (born 23 December 1963) is an American novelist. ... The Secret History is a 1992 novel by Mississippi-born writer Donna Tartt. ...

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The Rules of Attraction was adapted into a film of the same name in 2002. It was directed by Roger Avary and starred James Van Der Beek as Sean, Shannyn Sossamon as Lauren, Ian Somerhalder as Paul, and Kip Pardue as Victor. The Rules of Attraction (2002) is a dark satirical film based on the novel The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ... Roger Avary, photographed for Score Magazine at the Hotel Costes K, Paris. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Shannon Marie Sossamon (born October 3, 1978), better known as Shannyn Sossamon, is an American actress, musician, dancer and mother. ... Ian Joseph Somerhalder (born December 8, 1978) is an American actor, male fashion model and producer. ... Kip Pardue (born Kevin Ian Pardue September 23, 1976 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an actor and model. ...

Significant changes from the book

As with many adaptations from one medium to another, many changes were made to The Rules of Attraction. These include:

  • An implementation of a "beginning is the end," plot structure, where we are introduced to the characters at a party which is chronologically at the end of the events of the movie.
  • The book takes place during the 1985-86 school year. The movie is updated to a more contemporary time period (though ambiguous).
  • Many minor characters are eliminated (such as Clay, Roxanne and Franklin).
  • Lauren Hynde being portrayed in the movie as an energetic virgin, while in the book she is seen sleeping with multiple partners.
  • Lauren loses her virginity in the beginning of both versions. However, they are during different periods of time. In the novel it is recounted as taking place during her freshman year, while in the timeline of the movie it is after most of the events of the movie have taken place. However it is still under the same circumstances (semi-conscious with a local townie while a film student she was earlier flirting with films it with a camcorder. )
  • A new character, Lara, is added as Lauren's roommate. She is highly promiscuous and fills much of the role the version of Lauren from the novel used to.
  • Lauren and Sean never date, nor have sex, in the movie. Or if they do, we do not see it, because at one point, Lauren says, "It's over."
  • In the novel, Sean and Paul's relationship (or lack of one) remains ambiguous. It is referenced in Paul's narrations, but not Sean's. The movie portrays this as a masturbation fantasy of Paul's while he stares at a passed out Sean. In the book, it is hinted that they had sex. It does not happen here.
  • Lauren discovers the girl who committed suicide in the dorm bathroom, as opposed to Roxanne in the novel.
  • Lauren never becomes pregnant, nor gets an abortion in the movie. The relating event (her and Sean going on a cocaine-fueled road trip) also never occurs.
  • Sections of the text from the novel are preserved, but are presented within a different context. Sean's description of having sex with Lauren for the first time in the novel, is then narrated in relation to the girl at the beginning of the movie.
  • Sean never visits his dying father, nor physically encounters his brother, Patrick Bateman, in the movie, only mentioning him on the telephone (which happened in the book anyway).
  • Although the love triangle happens simultaneously in the movie, Paul and Sean's relationship is ended when Lauren and Sean's begins at the Dressed to Get Screwed Party, half-way through the novel.
  • The character of Mr. Lawson (Eric Stoltz) does not appear in the book. However in the book there is a lecturer that Sean is very suspicious of, Professor Vittorio who teaches poetry.
  • Sean's drug and alcohol intake is much greater in the novel. He literally spends most of the novel intoxicated.
  • In the novel, Paul has a pseudo-sexual encounter with a young woman, illustrating that he is bisexual rather than homosexual. This does not happen in the film, however it is hinted that he and Lauren were once involved.

Townie is a term used by born and bred countrymen to describe people who live in towns, particularly when they come to live in a village and then complain about farmyard smells, noises etc Townie is a term commonly used in university towns to refer to residents not affiliated with... Sony DV Handycam A camcorder is a portable electronic device for recording video images and audio onto an internal storage device. ... Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. ... Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman Patrick Bateman is a fictional character, the protagonist and narrator of the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and its film adaptation. ...

Publication details

  • 1998, USA, Vintage Books (ISBN 0-679-78148-X), pub date ? June 1998, paperback

See also

See also: 1986 in literature, other events of 1987, 1988 in literature, list of years in literature. ... This is a list of film-related events in 2002. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
The Rules of Attraction (1210 words)
The characters in "The Rules of Attraction" all use alcohol and drugs without a second thought, sleep with the most convenient person available and have no idea what they want to do with their lives.
However, like most of Ellis' work, The Rules of Attraction uses snippets of characters' lives to tell the story of a community, or at least of a group.
"Rules of Attraction" is a wicked little gem of literary curare, all high-style and aimless debauchery, and the best of it is that Ellis springs some kind of wicked little trapdoor into the minds of his victims.
The Rules of Attraction Movie Review (2002) from Channel 4 Film (322 words)
Updating Bret Easton Ellis' 1987 fictional New England campus-set novel to the present day, The Rules Of Attraction follows a series of debauched co-eds - led by James Van Der Beek - as they drink, screw and snort their way into oblivion
Yet, far superior to his disappointing debut, the 1994 bank heist movie Killing Zoe, The Rules of Attraction goes some way to reminding us that Tarantino isn't the only achingly hip director in town.
Choreographed to a period soundtrack featuring Blondie and The Cure, the film is a visual tour-de-force, full of beguiling camera tricks.
  More results at FactBites »



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