Monday, August 16, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 28: Clarice Starling's animus


We briefly described the anima and animus in part 24 of the analysis, in the introduction to Jungian psychology. Here we will go into these in more detail.

According to the Wikipedia 'Anima and Animus' page,[a] the anima and animus are elements of Carl Jung's theory of the collective unconscious, a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of the male, it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female, it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus.

Swiss Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz stated that there are four parallel levels of animus development in a female. The animus "first appears as a personification of mere physical power - for instance as an athletic champion or 'muscle man'"[b].

Lecter's fellow prisoner Miggs (shown at left) represents the first figure of Starling's animus - he climbs on his cell bars upon seeing Clarice, showing his physical prowess. However, since he is quite small and thin, he represents a kind of 'deficient' animus figure; in this context, he represents the 'inadequate' boys Clarice dated while she lived in her home town.

In the next phase, the animus "possesses initiative and the capacity for planned action."[c] Being part of the FBI, Clarice is surrounded by men of action; the most noticeable is, of course, her supervisor, Jack Crawford. Thus, Crawford represents the second phase of Starling's animus.

In the third phase "the animus becomes the 'word', often appearing as a professor or clergyman."[d] Recall the local man named Lamar who shows up at the West Virginia autopsy - he had been playing organ at the victim's funeral, just prior to coming into the autopsy room. He represents the third animus figure for Clarice, insofar as he represents a 'member of the clergy' in his organ-playing capacity.

"Finally, in his fourth manifestation, the animus is the incarnation of meaning. On this highest level he becomes (like the anima) a mediator of the religious experience whereby life acquires new meaning. He gives the woman spiritual firmness, an invisible inner support that compensates for her outer softness."[e] Hannibal Lecter, who helps Starling become better in her profession, is her fourth animus figure.

a. Wikipedia, 'Anima and animus'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. M.-L. von Franz, "The Process of Individuation" in Carl Jung ed., Man and his Symbols. London: Aldus Books, 1964. p. 206.
c. Ibid., p. 206.
d. Ibid., p. 206.
e. Ibid., pp. 206-7.


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