Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. David Anshen

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew J. Christensen

Third Advisor

Dr. Caroline Miles


This paper examines the consciousness of three literary characters, divided by space and time, from mid nineteenth century Russia, mid twentieth century Italy, to late twentieth century American society. This paper exposes literature’s rendition of modern man’s varying consciousness as shaped by the changing social conditions around him. This paper recognizes these varying social conditions as different stages in capitalism’s development. Capitalism has a history; the literature this paper examines discloses its negative impact on the consciousness of its characters. In analyzing Notes from the Underground, Contempt, and American Psycho, three novels separated by geography and spanning a timeframe of 127 years, this paper examines each protagonist existing in a state of existential angst proportionate to the stage of capitalism his respective epoch experiences, and respective of his social status. A Marxist framework is used to analyze this literature which reveals modern man’s precarious condition has exacerbated alongside capitalism’s development.


Copyright 2013 Joe L. Cantu. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American