Talented Mr. Ripley

1310 words 6 pages
The Talented Mr. Ripley

Insanity is a behavior that is often judged by our society. If one behaves in a manner that contradicts the societal norm, he is ostracized for his inappropriate actions. Insanity however is not to be confused with irrationality. Tom Ripley's many immoral acts, namely, murder, forgery, and deceit could be perceived as insane; however, when one takes into consideration the calculated motives behind them, it is evident that they are merely irrational. Tom's irrational, yet shrewd mind allows for him to achieve his primary goal, that being, becoming his obsession, Dickie Greenleaf. His shrewdness however, is not powerful enough to allow him to function as solely Dickie Greenleaf—he can only function as a
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(87)" Tom suddenly sees himself in Carlo. He imagines Dickie thinking the same way of himself and irrational, yet justified thoughts of hate overwhelm him. At this point in the novel he realizes the absolute need to kill Dickie and literally "become Dickie Greenleaf himself. (89)"
Tom kills Dickie unmercifully, yet the reader still feels compelled to sympathize with him and not accidentally. Highsmith presents the character of Tom Ripley to be an irrational man, with reason behind each action he takes. Tom is not insane, he is determined. Determined to make life better for himself. If he sees murder as the only way of achieving such, then perhaps he is justified. The fact that he spends time thinking about his actions before he acts shows elements of sanity. Tom's second murder, of Freddie Miles is a little more on the irrational side, but again purposeful. He sees Freddie as a threat to his plan, so he takes action to eliminate the problem. He again does this in a tactful way so that the death of Freddie Miles remains a mystery to the world. Subsequent to the brutal murder scene, Tom thinks to himself: "he hadn't wanted to kill him at all. It had been so unnecessary, Freddie and his stinking, filthy suspicions. (146)" The very fact that Tom spends time regretting his actions shows that he is in fact sane. He feels pain and remorse