Patricia Highsmith’s highly successful first book, the story of the anti-hero Tom Ripley, is set in 1950s America. The book has also been portrayed as a movie, with Mr Ripley’s character being acted by John Malkovich, Alan Delon, Dennis Hopper and Matt Damon alongside Jude Law.
Highsmith’s ability to force a reader to sympathise to a psychopath and a cold-blooded killer, using a range of linguistic devices creatively, always makes you agree to Tom’s often amoral decisions.
Highsmith’s character Tom is very unique: he has had a very tough childhood and his homosexuality is hinted to at various points in the novel. His background may have been the reason for the roots of his amoral behaviour; his quest for the perfect life may also fuelled by his homosexuality, which he tries to hide to avoid being marginalized by the homophobic ideology of the 1950s.
Tom’s motivation to kill is shocking and at he is certainly a depraved character, but it’s easy to feel that he’d change that impression if you ever met him. Highsmith writing, with her thrilling plot coupled with creative linguistic techniques, brilliantly manipulates the reader’s ideas. Simply amazing!