1

Topic: Blofeld's sense of morality

I’m reading Thunderball at the moment, and have just come to the part describing the SPECTRE meeting. In it, Blofeld kills one of his operatives for sexually violating a 17 year-old girl that SPECTRE had kidnapped and held to ransom. We learn that Blofeld, on hearing that one of his operatives had assaulted the girl, returns a large part of the ransom money to the girl’s parents as an act of contrition.

Having only just come to the Bond novels, and only knowing about Blofeld from the films, I was startled by this. In the films, he is portrayed as a caricature, a stereotypical villain, whereas in the books (or at least in Thunderball) he has a sense of morality.

2

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

osris wrote:

I’m reading Thunderball at the moment, and have just come to the part describing the SPECTRE meeting. In it, Blofeld kills one of his operatives for sexually violating a 17 year-old girl that SPECTRE had kidnapped and held to ransom. We learn that Blofeld, on hearing that one of his operatives had assaulted the girl, returns a large part of the ransom money to the girl’s parents as an act of contrition.

Having only just come to the Bond novels, and only knowing about Blofeld from the films, I was startled by this. In the films, he is portrayed as a caricature, a stereotypical villain, whereas in the books (or at least in Thunderball) he has a sense of morality.

It didn't have anything to with morals. It was about disicipline amongst their own originization.

3

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

I don't think it was morality. It was professionalism.

4

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

It didn't have anything to with morals. It was about discipline amongst their own originization.

Yes, it does mention that, regarding his killing the culprit. But his returning the money wasn't necessary for disciplinary purposes, surely?

5

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

osris wrote:

It didn't have anything to with morals. It was about discipline amongst their own originization.

Yes, it does mention that, regarding his killing the culprit. But his returning the money wasn't necessary for disciplinary purposes, surely?

Remember it wasn't the entire ransom, it was half.  But yes, it all involved self discipline. Blofeld did state how he wasn't concerned with morals. He just ran a tight ship and that's why, among several dangerous men, he reigned supreme.

6

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Remember it wasn't the entire ransom, it was half.

True, but he didn't have to. He also wrote the parents a letter of apology—something no run-of-the-mill real-life kidnapper has ever done, let alone someone with the power and reputation Blofeld has. So if these two things (returning half the money and the letter of apology) if not prompted by a moral sense are certainly puzzling acts from a criminal with his fearful reputation.

And earlier on in the meeting, we hear that Blofeld always makes sure his punishments are meted out for the sake of justice. So he must have some sense of right and wrong, despite his telling his operatives that morals or ethics are not a consideration in SPECTRE’s operations. Here, he might just be reiterating SPECTRE’s credo, rather than expressing his personal beliefs.

7

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

osris wrote:

Remember it wasn't the entire ransom, it was half.

True, but he didn't have to. He also wrote the parents a letter of apology—something no run-of-the-mill real-life kidnapper has ever done, let alone someone with the power and reputation Blofeld has. So if these two things (returning half the money and the letter of apology) if not prompted by a moral sense are certainly puzzling acts from a criminal with his fearful reputation.

And earlier on in the meeting, we hear that Blofeld always makes sure his punishments are meted out for the sake of justice. So he must have some sense of right and wrong, despite his telling his operatives that morals or ethics are not a consideration in SPECTRE’s operations. Here, he might just be reiterating SPECTRE’s credo, rather than expressing his personal beliefs.


Remember that a sense of justice can be very perverse to certain people. ajb007/wink

Look at it another way, the whole episode with the girl was business. Two parties agree to certain terms and they don't violate them. It's bad business to go back on your word. Morals really didn't factor in. Remember that SPECTRE was a sort of a private  coporation and it had cilents, willing or unwilling, like this wealthy man and even MI6 as revealed later in the book. The return of half the ransom and the apology letter I view is "good PR".

Last edited by Ricardo C. (28th Dec 2010 20:59)

8

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Remember that a sense of justice can be very perverse to certain people. ajb007/wink

Look at it another way, the whole episode with the girl was business. Two parties agree to certain terms and they don't violate them. It's bad business to go back on your word. Morals really didn't factor in. Remember that SPECTRE was a sort of a private  coporation and it had cilents, willing or unwilling, like this wealthy man and even MI6 as revealed later in the book. The return of half the ransom and the apology letter I view is "good PR".

Now that you put it in those terms, I can see your point. Although it does reveal a more nuanced Blofeld than the films portray.

9

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

osris wrote:

Remember that a sense of justice can be very perverse to certain people. ajb007/wink

Look at it another way, the whole episode with the girl was business. Two parties agree to certain terms and they don't violate them. It's bad business to go back on your word. Morals really didn't factor in. Remember that SPECTRE was a sort of a private  coporation and it had cilents, willing or unwilling, like this wealthy man and even MI6 as revealed later in the book. The return of half the ransom and the apology letter I view is "good PR".

Now that you put it in those terms, I can see your point. Although it does reveal a more nuanced Blofeld than the films portray.

Yeah, they never really got into Blofeld's character on film.

10

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Like I said, professionalism ajb007/smile

Blofeld wasn't a moral man per se, but he did have standards as to how he wanted his organization to operate. A higher class of criminal than your average thug. One could perhaps tie it to his 'snobbery' in his desire to hold a title of nobility in the following novel, OHMSS, and part of his pathology - he's a criminal, but he wants to either fit in with or simply be respected by high society. A sociopathic trait IMO.

11

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Blofeld wasn't a moral man per se, but he did have standards as to how he wanted his organization to operate. A higher class of criminal than your average thug. One could perhaps tie it to his 'snobbery' in his desire to hold a title of nobility in the following novel, OHMSS, and part of his pathology - he's a criminal, but he wants to either fit in with or simply be respected by high society. A sociopathic trait IMO.

I can see what you and Ric mean now. Having only recently come to the books, and only having read two so far, I haven't got a good grasp of Blofeld's character yet.

12

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

osris wrote:

Blofeld wasn't a moral man per se, but he did have standards as to how he wanted his organization to operate. A higher class of criminal than your average thug. One could perhaps tie it to his 'snobbery' in his desire to hold a title of nobility in the following novel, OHMSS, and part of his pathology - he's a criminal, but he wants to either fit in with or simply be respected by high society. A sociopathic trait IMO.

I can see what you and Ric mean now. Having only recently come to the books, and only having read two so far, I haven't got a good grasp of Blofeld's character yet.

Blofelds evolution is rather interesting. He started as a great criminal genius with the most dangerous men in the world at his command to a raving lunatic who wanted lash out on a world that has defeated him time and again. Ernst was defintely Bond's best villian. I think a close secound would be Hugo Drax.

13

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

If I recall, it's hinted that the girl herself welcomed willingly into the arrangement and was 'up for it', ie it wasn't rape, she wanted sex with the guy. So in that sense, again, it's not a moral thing so much as Blofeld runs a tight ship.

Odd that such an interesting element was removed from both film versions, when the latter was obliged to stick to the book's elements anyhow.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

14

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Napoleon Plural wrote:

Odd that such an interesting element was removed from both film versions, when the latter was obliged to stick to the book's elements anyhow.

Violence is one thing but rape, statutory or not, was a very heavy subject to put on film at the time. I wasn't surprised by the omission.

15

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Well statutory rape isn't really rape at all is it? She's just under age. That said, yeah, it slows down the story and isn't relevent to it, but some of Blofeld's behaviour is filmable and NSNA had to stick to the novel. For instance, a quick flashback to his garrotting and poison dart as a way of dealing with past offenders would work in a Tarantino sort of way, though that style of filming didn't happen much back then.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

16

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Napoleon Plural wrote:

Well statutory rape isn't really rape at all is it? She's just under age. That said, yeah, it slows down the story and isn't relevent to it, but some of Blofeld's behaviour is filmable and NSNA had to stick to the novel. For instance, a quick flashback to his garrotting and poison dart as a way of dealing with past offenders would work in a Tarantino sort of way, though that style of filming didn't happen much back then.

Oh boy, let's not debate that here. ajb007/lol ajb007/wink

I actually saw NSNA again yesterday. Even if he had more screentime, Max Von Sydow was made to look like just like a goof ball with a cat.

17

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

From my friend Jeremy Duns, a recent talk on SoundCloud on the literary origins of a convention of spy fiction (and the Bond novels):

Introduction by Jeremy Duns

An obscure passage in a book edited by Graham Greene directly inspired Ian Fleming to create one of the most iconic scenes in spy fiction.

What does this tell us about Fleming, and about the genre?

In The Evil Boardroom, I delve into the roots of a seminal scene in espionage fiction: Ian Fleming's introduction of the freelance terrorist group SPECTRE. Along the way I discuss Fleming's use of journalism as a source for ideas in his fiction and a tool for networking, the development of the villain in the British thriller, and the value of research.

https://soundcloud.com/jeremyduns/theevilboardroom

Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog (TBB)
On Twitter: @Dragonpol 
'Like' TBB on FB: TBB Update Page
"The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).

18

Re: Blofeld's sense of morality

Regarding Blofeld's conduct, perhaps he was following Bob Dylan's maxim "to live outside the law you must be honest."