Study Guide

Artemis Fowl Greed

By Eoin Colfer

Greed

He still retained a childlike belief in magic, tempered by an adult determination to exploit it. If there was anybody capable of relieving the fairies of some of their magical gold, it was Artemis Fowl the Second. (2.6)

Here's a crazy thought: What if what it takes to be a criminal like Artemis is a willingness to exploit other people <em>and</em> yourself (i.e. your own beliefs and integrity)?

Gold, of course, was the objective. The acquisition of gold. It seemed that the People were almost as fond of the precious metal as humans. (2.75)

It seems like every fairy story has a line about them loving precious metals and gems, except there's never any real bartering with gold between fairies—so why do we always imagine they have to care about it like we do?

While it was true that LEP had a ransom fund, because of its officers' high-risk occupation, no human had ever taken a chunk of it yet. This didn't stop the Irish population in general from skulking around rainbows, hoping to win the supernatural lottery. (4.47) 

The myth of gold at the end of the rainbow lasts because there's a certain charm to not having to work for all those riches, and it's secret and magical in a way the lottery isn't. Plus, no one ever thinks about something as mundane as paying taxes on leprechaun gold.

There were things to be done. Fairies to be extorted. He had no time for his mother's fantasy world. (6.46)

You could argue that extortion is a form of fantasy in its own right—it's just built on greed instead of madness.

"There's more that one kind of hunger," noted Argon.

"Very true. Hunger to succeed. Hunger to dominate. Hunger to—." (8.60-61)

Could these things, more so than Artemis's desire for wealth, better explain the reason the end goal seems to be more about beating the fairies and taking away their only advantages rather than acquiring a ton of gold? 

The gold sat there, stacked in shining rows. It seemed to have an aura, a warmth, but also an inherent danger. There were a lot of people willing to die or kill for the unimaginable wealth this gold could bring. (9.158)

This novel has a weird way of talking about gold, like it's not wealth in itself but rather that possessing it will breed more money and other kinds of wealth.

If Fowl's corpse was here, it would be with the gold, of that she was certain. (9.313)

Even after witnessing Artemis throughout her captivity, Holly still doesn't really understand him—how would it alter the dynamic of the story if Holly thought of Artemis as more than just a thief? 

And humans will accept any story, however outlandish, when there's something in it for them. Preferably something green that folds. (9.334)

This is one of the only mentions we get of actual paper money, and it's interesting that Mulch (of all the characters) is the one who understands humans and their currency best, especially since he worked in mines with precious metals.

"D'Klass [Santa Claus] thought that the greed of the Mud People in his kingdom could be assuaged by distributing lavish gifts [...] Of course, it didn't work. Human greed can never be assuaged, especially not by gifts." (9.361)

Here Artemis gives a subtle shout-out to greed not being satiated by materials things ("especially not by gifts")—it seems there are definitely things worth more than gold to him.

He berated himself silently. Imagine parting with all those millions for the promise of a wish. Oh, the gullibility. (9.385)

It's almost unbelievable that Artemis doesn't get some guarantee that his wish will be fulfilled before releasing the gold. He calls himself <em>gullible </em>here, but it seems possible that he actually was acting on another very human trait—trust. 

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