The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Irony

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Irony

Tom's dislike of Dickie's inherited wealth

At the start of the film, Tom voices his annoyance at Dickie's exuberant lifestyle, in particular, the fact that he lives a life of luxury without having to work for it. At first Tom's dislike of Dickie's inherited wealth appears justified, as Tom has to work extremely hard in degrading occupations in order to get by, whereas Dickie uses his family's money to travel the world. However, as the film progresses, Tom's opinion is ironic and hypocritical. This is because Tom becomes very happy to use and waste Dickie's family money, the very same action he reprimands Dickie for. This irony illustrates a social class division in 1950s America, as well as the suggestion that a wealthy person immediately forgets or ignores the plight of the less wealthy.

Tom's treatment of Dickie

Tom appears to be infatuated with Dickie, as he admires his dress sense, mirrors his movements and claims "You're the brother I never had. I'm the brother you never had. I would do anything for you, Dickie." As the two develop a close relationship, it is ironic that Tom kills Dickie for no apparent reason. This illustrates the running theme of violence and irrationality throughout the film, and provides great insight into Tom's tortured mindset. The act of murder also causes the viewer to question the truth of Tom's words, as we start to doubt whether he truly viewed Dickie as a brother.

Dramatic irony regarding the murders

The film revolves around dramatic irony, a literary device where the viewer is aware of events and actions that the film's characters are unaware of. In 'The Talented Mr Ripley' we are aware that Tom is the murderer, as we clearly see him kill Dickie during their sailing trip. In this way, the film is not a typical murder mystery where the viewer puts together clues to find the murderer. As we are in the know, an appealing feature of the film is that the audience is able to watch the characters confusedly and incorrectly trying to search for Dickie's murderer. This leads to many ironic moments, as individuals such as Freddie Miles, Marge Sherwood and Herbert Greenleaf constantly place misguided confidence in Tom, as they wholeheartedly believe him to be innocent.

Marge's trust in Dickie

From the very start of the film, Marge has great trust and confidence in Tom and develops a close friendship with him. After Dickie's murder, Marge turns to Tom for comfort and support. This is ironic, as it is Tom who killed her fiance. Marge is unaware of this and confides in Tom, accidently asking questions that threaten to reveal him as the true murderer. These ironic moments also place Marge in great danger, as Tom considers killing her before she puts the clues together, but ultimately decides against it.

The anti-heroic nature of the protagonist

The characterisation of Tom Ripley usurps the idea of a noble, heroic protagonist. Unlike typical protagonists, Tom has a warped moral compass and is oblivious to his numerous faults. This is ironic and gives the film its unique appeal - although we see the events unfold through the persona's eyes and follow his character developments over many years, we ironically know very little about the real Tom Ripley. This ambiguity is foreshadowed when Tom reveals that his skills are forgery and impersonations in the opening piano scene. It is this portrayal of the equally remorseless and guilt-driven titular character that strongly contributes to the film's appeal.

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