Greed In The Maltese Falcon

1177 Words5 Pages
Greed is an “Intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food” (Oxford Dictionary). In The Maltese Falcon, everyone has the aspirations of finding the falcon for themselves. This is the driving force behind the murders, and betrayals many of the characters commit. Brigid, Cairo, Wilmer, and Gutman all seek the falcon for the same reason, the unimaginable wealth it will bring them. Possessing this rare object seems to consume them and they will do anything to get their hands on it. Greed is a very prominent theme of The Maltese Falcon; it seems the author was trying to express this theme by showing how ruthless humans are when seeking to obtain substantial wealth or something they value very highly. The author uses…show more content…
Gutman is another character whose downfall was met at the hands of greed. His pursuit of the falcon could be viewed as an obsession; he has dedicated seventeen years to his quest in order to obtain the Falcon. He tells Cairo “For seventeen years I have wanted that little item and have been trying to get it. If I must spend another year on the quest—well, sir--that will be an additional expenditure in time of only”—his lips moved silently as he calculated--“five and fifteen-seventeenths per cent” (Hammet 203). Even after searching seventeen years and receiving a fake his dedication to obtaining this item because of its immense value is unwavering. This could be viewed as an obsession of Gutmans, the fact that he is eager to continue his search for this item even after all those years of searching yielded no results. He is even willing to sell out his most trusted side- kick, Wilmer in order to achieve his goals of finding the falcon. In chapter nineteen he tells spade “Then sir, in exchange for the ten thousand dollars and Wilmer you will give us the falcon and an hour or two of grace—so we won’t be in the city when you surrender him to the authorities”(Hammet 189). Wilmer has killed multiple times in order to bring Gutman closer to achieving his goal, it seems his loyalty to Gutman is steadfast; but because of his desire to obtain the falcon for himself, Gutman is willing to sell him out to satisfy his own selfish motives. This shows the extent that people will go to,…show more content…
The search for this treasure has consumed our characters’ lives completely and it seems that their only goal is to find it at any cost. They’ve pursued this falcon all over the world and even when the falcon they received ends up being a fake the characters vow to continue their seemingly endless search. Perhaps this is the author’s way of telling us that immeasurable wealth isn’t worth pursuing and in the end greed the price of greed will ultimately be your demise. After all most of the characters dedicated their entire lives to this search and ended up with nothing but prison sentences and a few
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