Friday, February 12, 2010

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 70: Ardelia is a psychopomp for Starling


Above left: A group of FBI trainees (shown) watches Senator Martin (Catherine Martin's mother) on television. Ardelia Mapp is standing on Clarice's left. Above right: We see Clarice's face and hear what are ostensibly her thoughts, while her lips are not moving.

In the scene in which some FBI trainees are clustered together watching Senator Martin on TV, we are at one point shown a close-up of Starling's face, and while the camera is focused on her we hear a female voice say, "Boy, that's smart; Jesus, that's really smart." (This voiceover statement is a comment on Senator Martin's television appearance, in which the Senator speaks about her daughter Catherine's childhood to evoke sympathy for Catherine within Jame Gumb, who is holding her captive in his basement.) Then just after this voiceover, we see Clarice's lips moving as she begins speaking aloud. Since Starling's lips do not move while we hear the voiceover, we are supposed to realize that the words it contains could be Clarice's own thoughts, or they could be words Ardelia is speaking; what's being suggested is that Ardelia is inside Starling's head - this is what is being represented in this part of this scene. In her capacity as 'working for' evil forces (Jame Gumb, representing evil Freemasons), part of Ardelia's function is to act as a psychopomp for Starling, that is, as a mediator between her unconscious and her conscious mind. In performing this function, she influences Starling's thinking.

We can see the above-mentioned influence at work in the dormitory scene where, in commenting on the map of Gumb's victims that Clarice shows her, Ardelia makes some statements that are actually subtle suggestions to Clarice's unconscious, to effectively guide her toward reaching a certain conclusion: that Gumb personally knew Frederica Bimmel prior to killing her. This is, in turned, designed to guide Clarice to Bimmel's home, and ultimately, to the house that Jame Gumb himself is occupying.

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 71 of this analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


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