The Maltese Falcon

Brigid O’Shaughnessy Character Analysis

First introducing herself under a false backstory as Miss Wonderly, Brigid O’Shaughnessy employs Sam Spade for protection against the criminal Casper Gutman. She is the novel’s master liar, tricking men and women alike into thinking that she is on their side. In the past, she used her attractiveness to convince Floyd Thursby to help her steal the Maltese falcon. Throughout the novel, she pretends to be helpless, but Spade is never truly convinced by her deceitful performance. Consumed by greed, Brigid kills Miles Archer in order to frame Thursby so that she would not have to share with him the profits from selling the falcon. By the end of the novel, she claims to love Sam Spade, though it is not entirely clear how true this is and how much she just wants to avoid going to jail. Most likely the answer is some of both. Ultimately, greed and deceit lead to her imprisonment.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy Quotes in The Maltese Falcon

The The Maltese Falcon quotes below are all either spoken by Brigid O’Shaughnessy or refer to Brigid O’Shaughnessy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Maltese Falcon published in 1992.
Chapter 7 Quotes

“His second wife didn’t look like the first, but they were more alike than they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fair games of golf and bridge and like new salad-recipes…I don’t think he even knew he settled back naturally into the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Flitcraft
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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“He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Flitcraft
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

“Oh, I’m so tired,” she said tremulously, “so tired of it all, of myself, of lying and thinking up lies, and not knowing what is a lie and what is the truth.”

Related Characters: Brigid O’Shaughnessy (speaker), Sam Spade
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

“Sam Spade,” she said, “you’re the most contemptible man God ever made when you want to be. Because she did something without confiding in you you’d sit here and do nothing when you know she’s in danger.”

Related Characters: Effie Perine (speaker), Sam Spade, Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

He was pale. He said tenderly, “I hope to Christ they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck.” He slid his hands up to caress her throat… “You’ll be out again in twenty years. You’re an angel. I’ll wait for you.” He cleared his throat. “If they hang you I’ll always remember you.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

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“When a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I’m a detective and expecting me to run criminals down and then let them go free is like asking a dog to catch a rabbit and let it go. It can be done, all right, and sometimes it is done, but it’s not the natural thing.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Would you have done this to me if the falcon had been real and you had been paid your money?”
“What difference does that make now? Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be. That kind of reputation might be good business – bringing in high-priced jobs and making it easier to deal with the enemy.”

Related Characters: Sam Spade (speaker), Brigid O’Shaughnessy (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Maltese Falcon
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

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Brigid O’Shaughnessy Character Timeline in The Maltese Falcon

The timeline below shows where the character Brigid O’Shaughnessy appears in The Maltese Falcon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: The Black Bird
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
...him, not because he believed her story. After she confesses that her real name is Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Spade tells her he will help protect her identity from the police as long... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Instead of telling him the info, Brigid gets on her knees and pleads for help. Spade comments she’s trying to deceive him... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
When Spade returns to the office, Effie warns him that if he takes advantage of Brigid, she will lose all respect for him. Their conversation is interrupted by a stranger at... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Undersized Shadow
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
...enters an apartment building, goes out the back entrance, and walks another few blocks to Brigid’s hotel. (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
In Brigid’s room, Spade tells her that he’s decided to protect her identity from the police. With... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...his apartment building, Spade notices Iva Archer waiting in a car out front. He ushers Brigid into the lobby before returning to talk to Iva at her car. On the verge... (full context)
Chapter 7: G in the Air
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
At Spade’s home, he and Brigid call the front desk at Cairo’s hotel, but the manager informs them that Cairo hasn’t... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Perhaps feeling that Spade is confiding in her, Brigid responds to the story by claiming she has complete trust in how he will handle... (full context)
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Cairo then offends Brigid by making reference to a relationship between her and a young man in Constantinople. In... (full context)
Chapter 8: Horse Feathers
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Cairo, a gash over his eye, stands with a gun over Brigid as she huddles, terrified, in the chair. Brigid claims he struck her first, but Cairo... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Cairo and Brigid confirm that it was all a practical joke. Spade tells the police that if they... (full context)
Chapter 9: Brigid
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Alone with Brigid in the apartment, Spade lets his contempt for Dundy show, cursing nonstop for five minutes.... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Belvedere Divan
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
The next morning, Spade wakes up beside Brigid, who is naked and fast asleep. Rummaging through her clothes, Spade finds the key to... (full context)
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
...waiting in the lobby. Realizing the young man probably works for the Mr. G that Brigid made reference to, Spade confronts the young man about his employer. The young man pretends... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
...think he’s still working for him, Spade tells Cairo he only slapped him so that Brigid would trust him and help him find the bird. Implying he doesn’t fully trust Spade,... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...Mr. G. called and wants to speak to him. When Spade enters his private office, Brigid is there waiting. She tells Spade her room was searched and that she wants to... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Fat Man
...She explains that she called the police because she was jealous of seeing Spade with Brigid. She tells Spade she only came to his apartment to warn him that Phil Archer,... (full context)
Chapter 12: Merry-go-Round
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
...at back at his office and finds Effie waiting for him. She tells Spade that Brigid never showed up at her home so she came back to the office to find... (full context)
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
After finding nothing of use in the paper, Spade lets himself into Brigid’s hotel room with the key she gave him but he finds nothing there either. When... (full context)
Chapter 14: La Paloma
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
...ship La Paloma had arrived in San Francisco from Hong Kong yesterday morning. Remembering that Brigid said she met Thursby in Hong Kong, Spade realizes that Brigid must have seen the... (full context)
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...on fire. Realizing that fire must mean that La Paloma has something to do with Brigid and the bird, Spade smiles at her knowingly. (full context)
Chapter 16: The Third Murder
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
At the office, Effie strokes Spade’s head as he tells her that Brigid may have been around La Paloma when it caught fire. Effie pulls away, disgusted that... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
...Effie tells him that Luke called about Cairo, and then she asks if he found Brigid. He kisses Effie on the nose and tells her he’ll let her know about everything... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
...crewmen from the La Paloma. From the interviews, Spade was able to piece together that Brigid, Gutman, Cairo, Wilmer, and Captain Jacobi of the La Paloma had all met onboard the... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Fate and Death Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...the dead man’s hand. As he revels in his triumph, Effie gets a call from Brigid who is at Gutman’s hotel and claims to be danger. (full context)
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
...the falcon and the relationship between this man, who he believes is Captain Jacobi, and Brigid. Before leaving with the falcon under his arm, he affectionately rubs her cheek and says... (full context)
Chapter 17: Saturday Night
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
...pin. In garbled half-phrases, she manages to say that Gutman, Cairo, and Wilmer have taken Brigid to an address in Burlingame, a town twenty miles from San Francisco, with plans to... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Spade returns home and, as he puts his key into the door, Brigid rushes towards him, embraces him, and explains she’s been hiding in wait until he came... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Fall-Guy
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Spade and Brigid enter the room and sit on the couch across from Gutman. Cairo and Wilmer lower... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...Spade that his suggestion is simply too impractical. Cairo suggests that they give the police Brigid instead of Wilmer. Spade says that if they can make her look guilty, then they... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Russian’s Hand
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Gutman explains that Wilmer killed Thursby so that Brigid would fear that she was next and would give Gutman the falcon. During their meeting... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Satisfied with the info, Spade asks Brigid to make them some coffee. During the struggle with Wilmer, Gutman had noticed Brigid pick... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...the money, Gutman claims that one of the one-thousand dollar bills is missing and accuses Brigid of stealing it. Although she denies his accusation, Spade takes her to the bathroom and... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Masculinity, Femininity, and Sexuality Theme Icon
Brigid goes into the kitchen to prepare food and coffee as Spade confronts Gutman, claiming that... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
...lead instead of gold. Realizing it’s a fake, Gutman shouts in rage and Spade accuses Brigid of tricking them, but she and Cairo both claim that this statue was the same... (full context)
Chapter 20: If They Hang You
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
...Wilmer killed Thursby and Jacobi on Gutman and Cairo’s orders. After hanging up, Spade tells Brigid that she needs to tell him her role in the murders so that he will... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Spade infers that Brigid wanted to get Thursby out of the way so she could keep the profits from... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
...been drawn into the secluded alley only by someone he knew and trusted. Spade accuses Brigid of killing Archer by seducing him into the alley and then shooting him with Thursby’s... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Thinking he will still help her, Brigid confesses to the crime. Spade, however, tells her that she’ll probably be sentenced to twenty... (full context)
Lies and Deceptions Theme Icon
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Greed Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Brigid asks if the falcon had been real and he got his money, would he still... (full context)
Authority, Justice, and a Code of Ethics Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...the office, Effie asks if the papers were right in reporting that he turned in Brigid. Spade confirms the story and she looks at him with contempt, saying that he did... (full context)