Sunday, March 29, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 17: Starling's psychoanalysis (cont'd)


In part 16 of the analysis, it was described how Clarice Starling's metaphorical psychoanalysis, which is being performed by the psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, begins during the first prison interview scene. Among other derogatory remarks made by Lecter toward her during this interview, he has called her a "rube" (another term for country bumpkin). He lets her know that he is aware that when she was younger, she must have been willing to do anything to escape her home town, to get away from all those "sticky fumblings" with local boys in the back seats of cars - "to make it all the way to the F...B...I..." Lecter is, in a sense, here 'tempting' Clarice into wanting to further her process of maturation; this is his 'hook' into Clarice's psyche.

Once the discussion between the two of them has reached a point where it looks like Lecter is not going to give Starling any information that might help the FBI eventually catch the serial killer, Buffalo Bill, she gets up from her chair and begins to leave. While she is walking down a corridor to exit the basement ward where Lecter is kept, another prisoner, 'Multiple Miggs', throws some of his semen on her face (he has been masturbating).

Immediately after the Miggs incident, Lecter calls Starling back to his cell, and he gives her a clue of sorts: he mentions a woman named "Hester Mofet", and he also tells her to "look within yourself." Starling later realizes that 'Hester Mofet' is a fictional name, and is an anagram for 'the rest of me.' This together with the "look within yourself" clue, is designed to lead her to a 'Your Self' storage facility in town (the locale is the city of Baltimore). It is evident that all of this about 'yourself' and 'the rest of me' are references to Clarice's unconscious and its contents. Evidently, the doctor, as part of the analysis he is doing on her, is going to have her explore her own unconscious.

Once Clarice leaves the prison facility, she has a flashback to her childhood, in which she is greeting her father upon his arrival home after work, jumping into his arms. This represents part of the Oedipal component of her psychology.

Not too long after the above scene, Clarice has arrived at the storage facility, and after some difficulties gaining access to the unit, she begins to enter it to perform the exploration of her unconscious. (Of course, she's also entering the unit to search it for clues that will help enable the capture of Buffalo Bill.) She cuts herself on her inner thigh while sliding under the propped-open roll-up entrance door. This is symbolic of her first menstruation.

Subsequent to the above, there are suggestions in certain scenes in the movie where it is evident that Starling has transferred her libidinal attachment, which was at one time focused on her father, to her supervisor and father figure, Jack Crawford. One of these scenes occurs when Crawford and Starling are returning from the autopsy in West Virginia (see screencap at left - note the physical closeness of Clarice to Jack). This transfer of libido represents Clarice getting closer to becoming a grown woman, which is, as already stated, the ostensible goal of the psychoanalysis being done on her.

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 18 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


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