Goldfinger Themes
by Ian Fleming

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Goldfinger Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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Goldfinger has a complex interweaving of themes. The most important of these is wealth. SMERSH and its agent Goldfinger attack the wealth of nations. The smuggling and the assault on Fort Knox are meant to undermine Western economies and to bolster SMERSH's own schemes. "The Russians were notoriously incompetent payers of their own men," Bond notes. Goldfinger's smuggling provides revenue for paying SMERSH's assassins. Bond's own attitude toward wealth is primarily a clinical one; he has learned to recognize wealthy people by their mannerisms. When he blackmails $10,000 from Goldfinger, he gives the money to Jill Masterton because he likes her. Later, after winning another $10,000 from Goldfinger in a game of golf, he gives the money to the White Cross, the British Secret Service's widows and orphans fund. Goldfinger's attitude is the opposite of Bond's. Acquisitiveness is a mania for Goldfinger, and wealth is his tool for fulfilling his and SMERSH's desires.

Wealth opens doors: country clubs and businesses welcome Goldfinger. He bribes officials with gold. Bond is a jarring element in Goldfinger's world of snobbery and greed, and he represents another important theme: courage. Bond's courage stands against the cruelty of Goldfinger and his allies. Torture is a matter of routine for Goldfinger, but Bond's attempt to will himself to die before revealing anything that would harm others confounds Goldfinger's effort to brutalize agent 007 into betraying his confidences. Indeed, Goldfinger, who knows only greed and cruelty, fails to unlock the secrets of Bond's motivations until too late; he assumes that Bond, like others of his dark underworld, is motivated primarily by selfishness and lust.