HomeFC ORIGINALSTom Ripley's Mental Illness In Netflix’s ‘Ripley’ Explained: Is He A Psychopath?

    Tom Ripley’s Mental Illness In Netflix’s ‘Ripley’ Explained: Is He A Psychopath?

    The enigmatic labyrinth of Tom Ripley‘s world, where deception is an art form and reality is merely a suggestion. Just like Minghella’s electrifying 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley,’ Netflix series starring Andrew Scott dives straight into the complexities of one of literature’s most complex (or just a psycho) characters. With the brand new take on the 50s con story available for streaming now, one question is making the most of us. 

    Let me give you an overview of the world here, it’s our guy Tom with less gold than hunger for gore who gets swept into the golden high ride of the upper class. A rich American businessman named Herbert Greenleaf scouts him out for the great task of bringing his spoilt till rotten son Dickie back home from Rome. That sounds like the deal of a lifetime and Tommy took it, but the kick here is that he doesn’t know the rich daddy’s rich son as he didn’t go to Princeton but what he does know is deception. Now let us start our diagnosis.

    Related:Is ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ Based On A True Story?

    The Charm Of Mr. Ripley

    Andrew Scott for 'Ripley' (Image: Netflix)
    Andrew Scott for ‘Ripley’ (Image: Netflix)

    First things first, let’s set the stage straight. Tom Ripley is not your average protagonist. With his charm, wit, and uncanny ability to turn any situation in his favor, he effortlessly draws others into his web of deception. From the outside, Ripley’s actions may seem like your everyday streetsmart, calculated and cunning fella but you’ll be wrong. Beneath the surface of Tom’s charming looks and likeable personality (he probably built it before bed) lies a deeper complexity that makes easy categorization a hard task.

    In the original novel and subsequent film adaptations, Ripley’s character is portrayed with depth and nuance. It’s the kind that challenges traditional notions of morality and ethics. Well, as a spokesperson of Gen Z, non-trad we can handle but if somebody is showing straight signs of being a psychopath we take them. Although you can justify your unhealthy obsession by saying that his motivations are often shrouded in mystery, that has left the readers and viewers guessing his true intentions.

    In case you missed:‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ Ending Explained: What Happened To The ‘Likable Psychopath’? 

    The Great Pretender

    'The Talented Mr Ripley' (Image:Netflix)
    ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ (Image:Netflix)

    Now, let’s dig deeper into this antihero’s psyche. According to experts in psychopathology, Ripley exhibits several key traits commonly associated with psychopathy. From his master-level techniques of manipulation to deceit to his blunted emotional responses, he fits the profile of a classic psychopath.

    Taking the word of the creator of Tom’s world Patricia herself, Ripley’s actions are driven by superficial desires like power, money, control, and status. Half the story is about Tom’s psyche and the other half is him playing pretend as Dickie Greenleaf. Somehow he fell in love with the personality of his victim so deep that he chose to take it over the love of his life. In my head, that was unexpected but a complete surprise, because being selfish one of the most prominent traits of psychopathy. Then there’s that scene where he willingly confesses to Dickie about his hidden talent of being a great imposter.  

    Ripley’s Psychological Profile: A Psychopath

    Matt Demon as Tom Ripley, 1999 (Image: Netflix)
    Matt Demon as Tom Ripley, 1999 (Image: Netflix)

    Even though the author and the creators of great adaptations tried their best to breathe a little guilt into the heartless of history, his true colors stay vibrant even in black and white settings. He felt no gratitude or guilt whatsoever for Herbert Greenleaf, whom he conned multiple times. He also shows a keen understanding of human behavior and his willingness to exploit others for personal gain is something I don’t need to emphasize on, c’mon, the entire story is about that.

    Having said that, we’ve noticed no gratitude, no guilt, no sympathy and no true feeling of love (not strong enough than his desire to pretend anyway) in our protagonist and the lack of these paints him a psychopath. In the end, you can debate the topic till a version of the story comes out with a better backstory justifying his nature devoid of empathy and remorse. It will reason his murders with a deep-seated sense of inadequacy and paint the black and white frame a grainy grey. 

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    Akshita Singh
    Akshita Singh
    Akshita Singh is a Senior Content Writer at First Curiosity. She has been churning out content for 2 years. She's an avid reader and writer, fascinated by the works of Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, and Charles Bukowski. Akshita is also a poet herself, having written two poetry books titled ‘Made By Misery’ and ‘Deathbed’. Apart from goth literature, another thing that she enjoys is the real and fictional stories of Hollywood. She loves cinema and admires all works of art, be they delivered by actors or directors. So, keeping up with celebrity life comes as basic nature to her, something she loves knowing and informing others.

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