Greed In The Maltese Falcon By Dashiell Hammett

1637 Words7 Pages

Murder. Greed. Betrayal. Of all the vices that individuals possess, greed is controversially the most influential. The desire to obtain wealth corrupts one's morals when determining whether a behavior is right or wrong given the situation. It leads one to go against their morals and act upon their "need" for wealth. The characters are all seeking the Maltese Falcon, a gold-encrusted Falcon that is coated with a black lead surface. Many believe this falcon possesses a large sum of money, and people are willing to go to any extent to get their treasure. In this case, the characters are so driven by greed that they deceive one another, commit murder, and betray one’s loyalty. In the novel, The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett, the motif of …show more content…

The major one is who will be the fall man to get the police to stop attempting to find a suspect for the murders of Archer, Thursby, and Jacoby? Mr. Gutman is a very loyal man, but he knows his true actions depend on the possibility to obtain the falcon. As Larry T. Shillock explains, “The problem remains the police. As Spade observes, they must have a fall-guy. Cook, the gunsel who killed Thursby and Jacoby, qualifies…a final lesson—that of situational loyalty” (Shillock 7-8). This quote provides useful details on how people are influenced by greed and how this will lead to their unethical actions in the novel. Mr. Gutman, for example, is a major character that is driven by greed; he has been working his whole life to get the riches from the falcon. He is even willing to turn in Wilmer, his trusted assassin, to ensure that he is not found by the police. He wants to be sure that falcon is all his. This shows how his need for wealth outweighs his affection for the young boy. As Dashiell Hammett says, “Well, Wilmer, I'm sorry indeed to lose you, and I want you to know that I couldn't be any fonder of you if you were my own son; but- well, by Gad! - if you lose a son it's possible to get another- and there's only one Maltese falcon” (Hammett 194). This quote demonstrates how Mr. Gutman’s intentions are to possess the falcon and he is willing to betray those loyal to him in order to receive the wealth. Gutman thinks of Wilmer as a son, but because of his greed, he decides to turn in Wilmer for his own prosperity in gaining the Falcon. Greed causes people to go against their ethics and to betray the ones who were once loyal to

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