Both Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt, authors of The Talented Mr Ripley and The Secret History, have created their novels to have a theme of disturbing behaviour, portraying it through how the characters act and also how their backgrounds have influenced their behaviour. Main protagonists Thomas Ripley and Richard Papen go through stages of showing abnormal behaviour which may be defined as behaviour that is disturbing and is often the result of distorted thoughts. Freud stated that human behaviour stems from the desire to cater to subconscious drives. This theory means that everything people do revolves around satisfying the subconscious urges. In the novel The Talented Mr Ripley, Tom Ripley has strange urges to take over the identity of one other character and because of this, he carries out murders and does everything he can to satisfy his impulses. In The Secret History, Richard Papen and his group of friends have the desire to get rid of another student and in order to give into this urge, they also end up murdering. This makes both main characters in each novel very similar in the way that they give in to their subconscious drives. Patricia Highsmith portrays Tom Ripley to be, at first, a timid and nervous character who has been through a lot in the past and was raised by his wicked Aunt Dottie. However, as the novel goes on, the writer delves deeper into his darker and twisted persona. This also happens in The Secret History as Richard Papen first starts out as a character who struggles to make friends to a character who seems to be capable of much more than he thought. Critics state that ‘Highsmith takes the reader on a dark roller-coaster ride of deception, jealousy, deceit and murder, followed by evasion, more deceit, and more murder. Rather than chilling, senseless violence, Highsmith carefully crafts a mesmerizing tale of pursuit and near-miss as Ripley manages to stay just ahead of capture. He is crafty and calm even when in a panic. For the reader, the result is riveting.’ Throughout the novel, Tom switches from acting like himself to acting like Dickie, to then acting like himself again. Although Tom seems adamant that he is going to take over Dickie’s identity as soon as he has murdered him, he still seems unsure about the whole idea, therefore creating a roller coaster image. The language used to descript Tom’s actions displays just how violent he can truly be. Although he is shown as a timid character, most of the time, he can also be very powerful. When tom retrieves a letter, he is described as ‘ripping it open’ which creates a disturbing image as to how powerful and aggressive he is being to an inanimate object. When Tom murders Freddie, he ‘slammed the edge of the ash tray into the back of Freddie’s neck’ emphasising how violent he can really be. Another difference between the characters disturbing behaviour is how Richard seems to want to remember the murder and complains about ‘how quick it was.’ This contrasts with how Tom doesn’t seem to care about remembering the murders. Tom only cherishes the moment the murders actually happen. He describes the blood flowing from Dickie’s head to flow ‘slowly’ emphasising how much he enjoyed that Dickie was dying slowly. This also contrasts with how quickly Bunny’s death was.
In both novels, Richard and Tom show signs of voyeurism. This makes both characters seem as though they are stalking the other characters as they are making sure they aren’t able to be seen by the others. With Tom, he finds Dickie’s rings fascinating, ‘he spent the time examining Dickie’s rings. He liked them both.’ He also only seems to pay close attention to Dickie’s childhood photographs, especially when Dickie gets older, ‘the album was not interesting to him until Richard got to be sixteen or so.’ This was also before Tom had even announced that he wanted to take over Dickie’s identity so it makes the readers curious as to why Tom is so interested in only Dickie. In The...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document