Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 20: Saint Augustine's 'Confessions'


Hannibal Lecter tells Clarice to "look within yourself!" The prisoner number printed on his shirt is 'B1329-0' (click image to enlarge).

Recall from part 10 of the analysis that part of Lecter's prisoner number in Memphis, 'B5160-8', is a reference to book 5, Chapter 16 of the bible - that part of the book of Deuteronomy which talks about the Passover. Since this number is a clue, then it is appropriate to check into whether 'B1329-0', Lecter's prisoner number in Baltimore, is also a clue. There is a Book 13, Chapter 29 (i.e., 13.29) in the Confessions of medieval theologian and philosopher Saint Augustine. This passage talks about creation of the universe, and about how God does not exist in time, even though Man perceives all of God's actions within the context of time. Initially, this topic doesn't seem like it corresponds with the movie to any great extent, but in the immediately preceding book, 13.28, Augustine talks about creating a whole from parts (within the context of biblical creation). Following is Book 13, chapter 28 from the Confessions (Outler translation):

"And you, God, saw everything that you had made and, 'behold, it was very good.'[Gen. 1:31] We also see the whole creation and, behold, it is all very good. In each separate kind of your work, when you said, 'Let them be made,' and they were made, you saw that it was good. I have counted seven times where it is written that you saw what you had made was good. And there is the eighth time when you saw all things that you had made and, behold, they were not only good but also very good; for they were now seen as a totality. Individually they were only good; but taken as a totality they were both good and very good. Beautiful bodies express this truth; for a body which consists of several parts, each of which is beautiful, is itself far more beautiful then any of its individual parts separately, by whose well-ordered union the whole is completed even though these parts are separately beautiful." (material inside square brackets in original).

This passage is reminiscent of the fact that Gumb is making a (whole) suit of skins from various parts of his victims - he is seemingly going through a process of creation, or something resembling creation. There is, in fact, something in the movie which refers to the seven days of creation: Catherine Martin is Gumb's (intended) seventh victim. In fact, as stated in part 8 of the analysis, Gumb's skinning of each of his victims, representing a day of creation, and his formation of a 'suit' from these skins, symbolizes the formation of an 'evil kingdom'. If Gumb succeeds with Catherine in obtaining a patch of her skin, and adds it to the suit, he will have completed a step in his making of the suit; and this would be some kind of metaphor for a seventh day of creation.

We will go over Book 13.29 of Augustine's Confessions in the next part of the analysis.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Outler)

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 21 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


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