Why Tom Ripley Stayed in Italy
Why TomRipley Stayed in Italy
Thomas Ripley is acunning conman who getsaway with ripping people off. While living with Dickie Greenleaf inItaly, he murders him out of fear that Dickie might looseinterest in him and send him away. Hethen assumes Dickie`s identity and continues living in Italy. Movingfrom one country to another in Europe would not have been difficultfor him since hehad money and wasnot suspected ofDickie`s murder for a long time. The fact that he chose to stayraises various questions as to why he did so. However, there arereasons why he stayed in Italy (Highsmith).
First, Tom Ripleydecidedto remainin Italyinitially because he could live as he pleased there. After murderingDickie, Tom took over his identity, his money, jewelry,and other belongings. He had all the finances and freedom to live ashe wanted. The money afforded him a great lifestyle which hecould have otherwise not had. He made the decision to continueresidingin Rome because he only wanted a home after so may years of nothaving one. Tom Ripley was from a humble background. His aunt raisedhim reluctantly,and Dickie may have beentired of havinghim around before he died. Therefore, this was his chance to have ahome of his own (Highsmith).
Second, he chose tostay in Rome because it was exciting and there was some prestige thatcame with having an apartment in Rome. Italy had a lot of beautifuland interestingplaces that appealed to Tom. He had the money, Dickie`s behavior,and social class. Tom had a chance to tour Rome and be accordedrespect as Dickie Greenleaf. He was always looked down upon due tohis social background. He could only entertain people for a fewminutes before they got bored with him. Therefore, having Dickie`sidentity made it easier for him to enjoy living in Italy. Residingin Rome wouldmean that Tom would beregarded as anupper-classgentleman. He even pictured himself bragging topeople he wouldmeet saying, "Yes, I live in Rome, I keep an apartment."The prestige that came with living in Rome seemed attractive to himsince it was something he had wanted all his life (Highsmith).
Third the need tobelong to aparticularsocial class. Thiswas the main reason why Tom Ripley committed most of his acts,including murdering Dickie, assuming his identity, and staying inItaly despite what he had done. Tom was from a humble background, hedreamt of a life of wealth, prestige, and power. When he got thechance to live with Dickie, he admired him and wanted to be like him.In most instances,he would be caught trying to imitate Dickie. Tom decided to murderDickie because he was afraid that he would get tired of him and sendhim away. The fear of not being able to be part of Dickie`s socialclass and going back to his life made him angry enough to murder hisfriend. Staying in Italy was also inspired by his need to be part ofthe upper social class that people who lived in apartments in Romewereassociated with.His acts bring out social stratification as a theme in the book, TheTalented Mr. Ripley, where Tom was looked down upon since he waspoor, while Dickie wasrespectedbecause of his wealth (Highsmith).
There are variouschallenges that Tom Ripley faced during his stay in Italy. After hemurdered Dickie and took his identity, Tom decided to remainin Italy despite the various problems he encountered. First, hehad to avoid other Americans in Rome who would expect him to attendparties and hold social events. Second, hehad to lie to Freddie Miles and Merge whenever they asked aboutDickie. He told Merge that Dickie had decided to move to Rome, wroteletters in Dickie`s name to Merge, and wrote a fake willbequeathingall of Dickie`s property to himself. Third, Tom had to avoid meetingwith Merge because he did not want to have to explain to her. Fourth,the police always wanted to question him for one thing or another.When Freddie suspected that he was lying about Dickie, Tom killedhim. Thismade it hard for him because there was an increase in policeinvestigations which could have exposed him. Regardless of all theseissues, he chose to stay in Italy (Highsmith)
There was a lot ofscrutiny after the death of Dickie and Freddie Miles. The policestarted investigations when they found Freddie Miles murdered. Theyquestioned Tom Ripley, who at that time had assumed Dickie`sidentity, about Freddie`s murder. He managed to lie to them and ledthem to stop suspecting him. However, the police kept questioning himas Dickie Greenleaf and as himself. They interrogated him twice on"Tom`s" and Dickie`s disappearance. The police evensuspected that Dickie was running away from them. Also,Merge did not fully believe Tom and suspected him of something.Despite all this challenges and scrutiny surrounding his stay inItaly, Tom did not leave. Heonly moved from one place to anotherin Italy but did not once leave the country to escape. It seemed likethe wealth, social status, and lifestyle were all worth the troublehe encountered (Highsmith).
It was necessary forTom Ripley to stay in Italy after the murders of Dickie and Freddie.Thisis because the police requested him not to leave. The deathof Freddie Miles caught the attention on the police who then startedinvestigations. They questioned Tom while he was pretending to beDickie. Even though he denied knowing where Freddie went or whom hemay have been with, the police asked him to remain in Rome since theywould need to reach him quicklyfor questioning. Asa result, he had to stay inRome for a while until the investigations relating to his involvementin Freddie`s murder, were withdrawn. Later, when the police presumedthat Tom Ripley had disappeared, they questioned him and asked himnot to leave. It was,therefore,necessary for Tom Ripley to remain in Rome because the law enforcershad required him to do so (Highsmith).
The other reasons whytherewas a need forTom to remainin Italy were related to his character. His void nature, lack ofempathy, fraud and deceit, and his obsession with the lifestyle andsophistication of the wealthy, influenced his decision to stay inRome. A person with empathywould have felt guilty after killing two people and probably ran off.Tom, on the other hand, chose to stay. He took Dickie`s identity, hisjewelry,money, and other belongings without feeling any guilt. He even worethe dead man`s clothes and jewelry!His lack of a conscience and humanity made it easy for him to do so.Itdid not occur to him that whathe had done was wrong and that he ought to leave the life and wealththat did not belong to him (Highsmith).
His crazy obsessionwith the lifestyle of the rich and the social status that comes withliving in Rome made him stay in Italy. He could not leave behind allthe music, art, and sophistication that existed there until he wassatisfied with it. Even after the murders and during theinvestigations, he continued touring the various places in Italyuntil he decided to leave for Greece. It is almost like he could notinterrupt his adventure around Europe. When he thought that thepolice were catching up with him, his only regret seemed to be thefact that he would not be able to tour Europe, Cairo, or SouthAmerica. His psychopathic character is one of the reasons why hedeemed it necessary to remain in Italy even after murdering twopeople. Thisalso brings out psychopathy as a theme in the story (Highsmith).
In conclusion, it isclear that there are various reasons why Tom Ripley chose to stay inItaly after the murders of both Dickie and Freddie Miles. Some ofthese reasons relate to the themes brought out in the book such aspsychopathy,greed, social class, and deception.Ripley`s character is the majorcontributor to his decision to remain in Italy despite the scrutinysurroundingDickie`s disappearance. Itwas not that difficult for him tomove around Europe since he had Dickie`s money and for a long timewasnot suspected ofDickie`s murder. Therefore, it is strange that he chose to stay inItaly.
Highsmith, Patricia. TheTalented Mr. Ripley. NewYork:W.W. Norton &Co,
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