Character Analysis of Sam Spade

Topics: Dashiell Hammett, Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon Pages: 3 (1098 words) Published: November 4, 2013

Sam Spade the Anti-Hero
We often look back upon Sam Spade, the protagonist in The Maltese Falcon, as the first example of the modern day detective. This modern day detective is the gruff Man who keeps his wits about him, always gets the ladies, and cracks the case in the end. Sam Spade does fit into this category and it is for that reason that Sam Spade can be properly categorized as an anti-hero.

While Sam Spade is indeed the protagonist of the novel, he is by no means a hero in the traditional sense of the world. One of Sam Spade’s most notorious lines that place him into the anti-hero category is when he says, “I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you.” (Hammett 211). This one action by Sam Spade truly sets him apart as the anti-hero because it was so revolutionary for the time. Many readers were used to the idea of the hero saving the day for everyone, or even sacrificing himself to save his lovely lady. This would fit nicely into the mold of Philip Marlowe from The Big Sleep. Sam does explain his logic, however, when he says, “I won’t play the sap for you.” (215) This one line is very significant because it justifies Spade’s action of turning Brigid in to the police, but still allows Sam to remain an anti-hero because we have no way of knowing if Brigid would have double-crossed him in time. Not only does Sam choose to save himself at the possible cost of Brigid’s life at the end, but he has his way with her and other ladies throughout the novel, which further allows him to be categorized as a romantic hero.

Throughout the novel, we see Sam expertly juggle the affections of Brigid and Iva, while maintaining a very good relationship with his secretary, Effie. This shows that Sam is indeed a romantic hero because nearly every woman...

Cited: Delaney, Bill. "Hammett 's The Maltese Falcon." Explicator 63.3 (2005): 167-169. MAS Ultra. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. Print.
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