Monday, January 26, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 8: Determining who the characters represent


Clarice Starling, along with prison psychologist Dr. Frederick Chilton, descend the steps to Hannibal Lecter's cell area.

The prison ward on which Hannibal Lecter is kept is below ground level, thus suggesting that Lecter (shown at left) is, metaphorically speaking, in Hell, which is where Satan resides. Since Lecter is portrayed as extremely evil, he represents evil itself, and this, taken together with what was just said about him being 'in Hell', indicates that he represents a personification of Satan. Also, note that the 'bal' in 'Hannibal' sounds similar to 'baal', a commonly used name for the Devil; this is further evidence that Lecter represents Satan. Recall the 'quid pro quo' arrangement between Starling and Lecter - this represents Clarice making a 'deal with the Devil' to get information about the serial killer, Buffalo Bill, which will hopefully help the FBI apprehend Bill. Lecter also functions as a metaphorical psychoanalyst for Clarice, with his goal ostensibly being to help her become a mature, complete woman.

Lecter's implied requirement that Starling be polite on her initial approach to him (during their first meeting), is similar to Baba Yaga's requirement that those seeking her aid obey the basic rules of politeness. Since Baba Yaga was female, the indication is that Lecter has a certain amount of 'femaleness' within him. He thus represents a hermaphroditic entity, in particular, an evil hermaphroditic Jew. (Later in the analysis, we will see that an examination of the etymology of the surname 'Lecter', reveals that Hannibal represents a Jew).

Clarice Starling not only represents the Virgin Mary, but she also represents holiness itself: she is an angel, and specifically, a (friendly) angel of death, sent by God to destroy Satan's pupil, Jame Gumb. She desires to become a mature, complete woman. Working with Jack Crawford, Lecter takes advantage of this desire, by setting up a 'situation' within Clarice's psyche whereby she will see it as necessary to confront and defeat Jame Gumb, in order to become a complete woman. Within a certain context, Clarice also represents the Roman Catholic Church.

Jame Gumb (aka Buffalo Bill; shown at above left) represents Lecter's (i.e., Satan's/evil hermaphroditic Jews') 'pupil' or apprentice, in his basement 'Hell'. As suggested by the large amount of stone in Gumb's basement (e.g., the stone wall surrounding the well where he keeps his victims, as shown at above right), Gumb represents certain evil Freemasons. Gumb's skinning of each of his victims, and his creation of a 'suit' from these skins, representing a day of creation, symbolizes an 'evil kingdom' that is being created by Satan/the evil hermaphroditic Jews working with Satan's pupil/evil Freemasons. Gumb desires to usurp Lecter's place as a personification of Satan. Gumb also represents Starling's 'opposite' within the context of Clarice representing the Roman Catholic Church, in that he is extremely evil.

As indicated by the fact that Catherine Martin is, in the scene shown at left, enthusiastically singing along with the rock music hit, American Girl, on her car radio, she represents the 'typical American young woman', or more generally, the public. The kidnapping of her by Jame Gumb, and his planned killing and skinning of her, is to provide the seventh patch of skin for the skin 'suit' he is wear. The addition of this seventh patch to the suit represents a seventh day of creation, except that here, as stated above, it is an 'evil kingdom' that is being created.

Jack Crawford (shown at left) represents a father figure for Starling, in that he seems to her to be such. In the context of the psychoanalysis being done on Starling, Crawford functions as someone on the outside (i.e., someone who is not imprisoned) who helps Lecter with the psychoanalysis.

Clarice Starling's dorm roommate at the FBI academy, Ardelia Mapp, represents, in part, a psychopomp for Clarice Starling, i.e., she functions as a mediator between Clarice's unconscious and conscious mind.

Barney, an orderly in the institution in which Lecter is kept, represents the Christian Holy Spirit: we note that he wears white in the movie (see screencap at left), and the Holy Spirit is often depicted in art as a dove, a bird which is usually white. We also note that Barney in part serves as a guide for Starling, for example, he advises her on how to approach Lecter's cell; the Holy Spirit is sometimes considered to be a guide. (Although Barney represents the Holy Spirit itself, Clarice Starling represents the metaphorical 'presence' of the Holy Spirit, in certain scenes in the movie).

Stained glass representation of the Holy Spirit as a dove, c. 1660. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Holy Spirit in Christianity' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

We will soon see who Dr. Frederick Chilton represents.

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 10 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


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