My Best Reads

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a psychological novel written by Patricia Highsmith in 1955.

The story stars Tom Ripley, a young gay American man who survives by performing diverse scams on the people around him. One day, he meets a high school acquaintance’s father, a rich man named Herbert Greenleaf. Mr. Greenleaf asks him to travel to Italy to bring back his son, Dickie, so that he can take over the family business. Having nothing better to do, and being paid to travel, Tom accepts and goes to meet him. In a series of events, Tom begins to fall for Dickie. However, Dickie, being a straight man, rejects his advances, which eventually leads Tom to murder him.

I believe the most interesting part of the novel is how it explores the special dynamics between Ripley, Dickie, and Marge, Dickie’s girlfriend. Having been written in the fifties, an era that is often characterized by its prudish and conservative society, it portrays well how the suppression and judgement of unconventional behaviors exhibited by marginalized minorities can lead to terrible events. Highsmith demonstrates how social control could easily cause queer people to see their sexuality in a perverted way, eventually enabling them to commit first degree murder. She does so by demonstrating Ripley’s behavior as he completely rejects his homosexuality, and by blaming society as responsible for Dickie Greenleaf’s murder. While the murder of Dickie seems simple on the exterior, by carefully analyzing Tom’s behavior and motives, it becomes clear that society is responsible for part of the blame.

The image above is of Patricia Highsmith, the author.

Movie Trailer

In 1999, the novel was adapted to a movie. Here's the trailer: