RARA-AVIS: Re: The Talented Mr. Ripley

From: jimdohertyjr ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 06 Apr 2007


Re your comments below:

> Jim, with all due respect: evil? What does that mean?
> Are foxes "evil" for stealing chichens?

Foxes are not capable of making moral judgments. People are.

As for the definition of evil, I would have thought that was self- evident, but since you're apparently hazy on the concept, one who is evil is one who continually, willfully, and deliberately chooses to act immorally.

Murdering people, just in case it's not clear, is an immoral act.

> Ripley is not
> able to control himself when he becomes enraged. His
> first 3 murders are all rage killings. After a while
> he gets to enjoy murder. It's a challenge for him.

Rage is not the same as an inability to control oneself. It's failing to exert control, not an inability to exert control. And it's not a legal defense against a criminal homicide. You MIGHT, I say MIGHT, be able to argue that a homicide committed in an act of rage was manslaughter, but not that it was insanity.

And if he's committing his subsequent murders primarily because he enjoys it, that's a textbook example of deliberate evil.

> You mention that insanity is a legal concept. Under the
> legal definition, the lawyer that Ripley can afford
> can certainly make an insanity argument for him if he
> ever gets caught, which, of course, he never will be
> now. I doubt that that's the tact that lawyer would
> take, however. He'd argue innocent and make the
> prosecution prove it's case which he would riddle with
> holes.

Whether or not a prosecutor could prove he's a murderer or not doesn't make him any less a murderer.

We KNOW he's a murder. We're "eyewitnesses," so to speak. Highsmith lets us "see" the murders "on-stage," so we know, without question, that Ripley's a murderer. Whether or not a prosecutor could prove it, given the chance, is irrelevant. We already know the objective truth.

Your original assertion wasn't that he could get away with it even if he was brought to trial. It was that he was insane. And, based on the evidence of the books, that's just not what he is. He knows what he's doing and he knows the nature and gravity of his actions. Moreover, he's not in some kind of fugue state where he's not cognizant of his actions at the time he commits them and is therefore powerless to resist the impulse that causes him to kill. And if he's not either of those, he's not insane. He may not be normal, but he's not insane.

He's just a guy who likes to murder people.

Which means he's evil.



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