25 October, 2021

LitStaff Pick: Characters Who Didn't Get What They Deserved

Tom Ripley
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley first appeared in 1955 in novelist Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. There is no doubt that Ripley is a scoundrel. Initially hired by a wealthy New York businessman to travel to Italy and convince the gentleman’s wayward son to return home and work for the family business, Tom proves himself to be a liar, a murderer, an impostor and a thief.

For these deeds, he is never caught and never formally punished. He does, however, take the reader on a nail-biting trip as he murders his way through Italy, just managing to cover his tracks anytime the authorities begin to get too close.

Tom Ripley is one of those fictional characters who readers find themselves rooting for despite his misdeeds – and such misdeeds are gruesome. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy a good crime tale, Mr. Ripley appears in a total of five novels.

-Lisa Emig

3 thoughts on “LitStaff Pick: Characters Who Didn't Get What They Deserved

  1. Jason, good essay, but Moby's a sperm whale, not a killer whale, and if anyone's a bastard, it's that cold soul Ahab. (It's not for nothin' that I bought a Moby Dick sweatshirt to celebrate the whale.) I beg you to reconsider.

  2. Entertaining. I assumed the anti-whale bit about Moby Dick was meant to be parodic. My nomination for character who doesn't get what she deserves (by which I mean I think she's treated quite unfairly by the author/narrative): Mary Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice." The nerdy sister who doesn't have the other sisters' wit or beauty or social acumen, she's openly ridiculed by her family & ends up single & having to care for her tiresome & mismatched parents as they age. Every time I read the book, I pity this character.

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