Maltese Falcon: A man on his own side Essay

Submitted By Jiabing-Song
Words: 1086
Pages: 5

The book the Maltese Falcon successfully builds a hard-boiled as well as capable image of Samuel Spade. As the protagonist of the novel, Spade is a man of ambiguity and mystery. It is difficult to predict his next move so much that I am completely led by Spade from the beginning to end of the whole story. What confuses me most is that Spade, a private eye in United States in the 1920s, acts nothing like a decent detective, “behaving and speaking in peculiar and unexpected ways”(Marcus,1974,p198). Spade refuses to cooperate with policeman; he got involved with criminals because they offered him rich rewards; he has an affair with a lady crook but at last he sends her to prison with his own hands. This series of events suggests that Spade is a maverick detective devoted to his inner desire as well as his duty.
We can easily tell that he is absolutely not one with cops. When confronting them, Spade never has a good attitude. When policemen regarded him as the most potential suspect of murdering his partner, he merely showed his contempt and impatience while refusing to defend himself because he believed that it was unnecessary for all seems like a farce.
On the other hand, he deals with criminals tactfully, completely controlling the overall situation. He pretends to be connive with them, but actually he digs out the truth from their mouth through using a ruse. He insisted sending a fall-guy to police meanwhile making criminals tell him the whole story and that is the brilliant part of him.
However, how did Spade get involved with the criminal in the first place? Let’s explore Spade’s motive behind the case. At first, Spade promised to help Brigid for professional reason, yet after his partner’s death he continues to meddle in the mess because Brigid offers him five hundred dollars. Getting more and more involved in the entire case, Spade is also reaching the core – the falcon. He did not back off later because Gutman offered him an even more irresistible reward. As realistic as it may seem, Spade is primarily money-motivated. For instance, after Spade’s first meeting with Cairo, the reason he replies to Brigid for why he accepted Cairo’s offer is because “five thousand dollars is a lot of money” (57). Cairo captures Spade’s fondness for benefit and draws him into the swirl. Another example is that when Gutman found out the falcon is fake, he required Spade to give back the remuneration. While Spade held out the envelop with money reluctantly and kept one thousand-dollar bill for compensation of his time and energy. Even though his mission fails, he still insists on getting paid. Spade takes over the case due to his inner desire. According to Ernst Kaemmel (1962), “a murder is never committed out of passion or revenge, it is not the result of overwhelming emotion, but is instead always an act based upon economic motives.” So is Spade’s involvement. The profit behind that small black statuette is huge. Though the falcon turned out to be unauthentic but it still contains precious meaning: it is the impetus of the whole book, alluring all the people to chase after it.
Spade was hired by Brigid O’Shaughnessy, to whom he has remained loyal except for the last moment. Among his relationships, the one with Brigid is most special for Spade. Brigid is a sensitive, helpless, beautiful young lady who has crucial attractiveness to Spade, a typical “femme fatale” using her female advantage to ensnare the hero into a deadly trap she set up.(Hayard,p153) Believed as the pioneer of film noir, the Maltese Falcon masterly combines two significant elements: cynical attitude (shown in Spade) and sexual motivation (shown in Brigid). The affair between Spade and Brigid is exactly the output of “sexual motivation”. At the end of story, Spade responds to Brigid’s confession of love merely an ambiguous sentence “Maybe I do (love you)”. (212). Maybe he does. Yet he chooses not to reply to her positively because he refuses to encourage her…