Monday, 31 October 2011

Discussion: Mr. Ripley and homosexuality

We are studying Patricia Highsmith's 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' for A-levels and somehow everyone seems to think that Tom Ripley is gay. I disagree.

One of the main scenes that the "pro-gay interpretation group" use as evidence is the scene where Tom puts on Dickie Greenleaf's clothes, impersonates him and imagines killing Marge. However, I do not think he did this because he is in love with Dickie and therefore jealous of Dickie and Marge's relationship. I think that the only reason Tom wants to impersonate Dickie is because as Dickie the world is open to him. However, Tom, in my opinion, is asexual, rather than straight or homosexual. Sex is disgusting to him and he only looks at men because it enables him to impersonate their behaviour if necessary. I think the drive behind his anger is the fact that he is unable to impersonate the sexual aspect of Dickie's life and that someone else is apparently so good at reading Dickie's mind and controlling him. Therefore in a sense it is possessiveness that drives Tom in this scene, but the idea that he could not impersonate Dickie or be like him is what truly infuriates him.

Strangely enough I think that Tom dressing up as Dickie and then "killing" Marge is not Tom wanting to have Dickie to himself but is Tom making "Dickie" act like Tom thinks he should. Tom does not think that this sexual side of Dickie's personality is necessary or in any way positive and wants Dickie to see this as well.

Have you read the book? Do you share my opinion or think differently?


  1. I have only seen the film, but didn't get any hints of homosexuality from it. Is the book better than the film, would you say?

  2. Wow, I haven't read the book although I have heard of the movie. I absolutely want to read it now.

  3. @ Sam: I haven't seen the movie, but friends have and they say that the book was polished a bit, so Tom would be more of a tragic hero instead of a killer!

    @ Becky: I definitely recommend it!!