Similarities And Differences Of Serial Killers In The Silence Of The Lambs

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We live in a world where people try to manipulate us every day. Advertisers want to sell you stuff, charities want you to donate money. Some of these manipulations can be more harmless than others. The Silence of the Lambs however, doesn't have the word 'harmless' in it, The characters are engaged in a game with life-or-death stakes.

Each character is manipulative in there own way, even though Clarice is manipulative just to find out who the serial killer is and hopefully save the life of his kidnapped victim. Some like Dr Lecter are manipulative because it amuses them. He’s able to in control of clarice’s mind in a puppet master sort of way. Dr Chilton then manipulates Dr Lecter by telling him about Clarice's fake transfer offer. He is manipulative in order to be seen as the only person able to get the killer's identity out of Lecter and to prevent Clarice from doing so. Everyone was manipulative for a different reason, right or wrong. While there is good manipulation there’s also well-intended lying and deception. Deception that comes from a place of evil. The book's theme studies this in depth and shows this difference throughout.

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I think it’s fair to say there are a lot more differences between serial killers than there are similarities. The similarities are more statistical and issues by law where as the differences can range from each and every person. The two mass murderers shown in the novel could not be more different. Dr Lecter is incredibly intelligent, well-educated and commonly considered very successful. He fits into society well and would not stand out as an obvious “psychopath.” Buffalo Bill is complete opposite, he’s frequently disordered, hates himself and is struggling to find his identity. Dr Lecter would not get any pleasure from 'wearing' his victims and is comfortable with his gender identity, which Buffalo Bill struggles continuously throughout the book with these dilemmas.

The stark differences between their motivation and psychopathy is such an interesting theme from the book, since there can be so many outcomes. Hannibal says, “A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone.” This line in itself is a joke, that requires some deeper thinking. Lecter is likely on or would be prescribed a category of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors, “MAOIs”. These drugs help to regulate hormones in the brain are used to treat personality disorders as well as depression. They’re not common now as they have a lot of dietary restrictions. Liver, fava beans, and red wine are three of the foods that people are specifically told not to eat on this medication. The fact that he is able to eat this meal without consequence tells us that he is off his medication while practicing this act of murder/cannibalism. This joke is also a direct example of how Lecter maintains cleverness while he simultaneously indulges in his crazy actions of cannibalism. The line can also be taken as a warning to Clarice. He’s letting her know what he does to the people that bores him or wastes his time.

Many people may argue the entire book is actually about mind control. Specifically Hannibal manipulating Clarice through her journey to catch Buffalo Bill. There's actually been quite a lot of statements saying the book is connected to project MK ultra. An experiment conducted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency where they experimented on human subjects, which was illegal even at the time. It was a top-secret project, funded by the CIA in which the agency conducted hundreds of clandestine experiments, sometimes even on U.S. citizens to assess the potential use of LSD and other drugs for mind control, information gathering and psychological torture. None of them were even aware of the full facts on the experiment. Clarice first is made out to be isolated, then “remolded” by Dr. Lecter. She eventually opens up to him about her childhood which makes her more susceptible to all of his nonsense. We got to see Hannibal managing to manipulate various victims into thinking their superior to the Christian morality. He thought he was able to create and impose his own values. He believed people should be allowed to do as they see fit with the lives of others.

Lecter and Clarice both eventually start questioning the behavioral science unit, a department of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC.) Lecter mocks the psychological wisdom of the unit which then brings the discipline of psychology into question. They brought up the idea that serial killers are divided into 2 groups. One being organized and the other being disorganized. In all fairness no two serial killers are the same, all though in a way everyone can be classified into one of two large groups.

Organized criminals are typically seen as antisocial (often psychopathic) but know right from wrong as they show no remorse. Based on historical patterns, organized killers are likely to be above average or average intelligence, attractive, married or living with a domestic partner, employed, educated, skilled, orderly, cunning and controlled. They have some degree of social grace, may even be charming, and often talk and seduce their victims into being captured. Ted Bundy could be seen as one of the most notorious organized criminals.

On the other hand we have unorganized criminals. They are typically not planned and the criminals commonly leave evidence such as fingerprints or blood at the scene of the murder. There is often no attempt to move or otherwise conceal the corpse after the murder. Disorganized criminals may be young, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or mentally ill. They often have deficient communication and social skills and may be below average in intelligence. The disorganized offender is likely to come from a dysfunctional or unstable family. Notorious disorganized criminals could include people like Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) from Texas Chainsaw Massacre or even the entire family of House of 1000 Corpses. Hannibal to me would be seen as an organized criminal as he’s brilliant and easily seen as one of the most creepy and memorable serial killers. All thought Harris indicated that, “the inadequacy of concluding that one’s unhappy childhood leads to murder.” He implies that a moral or even religious, discourse of sin and evil is a better way of understanding someone like Hannibal rather than relying on someone's psychological trauma. I agree it can’t be seen as an excuse for murder but I could see how he doesn't exactly help the situation their in either.

Clarice and Hannibal get compared to people in novels and movies like Dracula. Dracula was compared to Hannibal for both feeling empty and having the need to feed on humans. Hannibal, like Count Dracula slips easily into the well known gray area between good and evil, as in the end of the book were left with questioning Lecter’s integrity. Dracula and Hannibal both reject god after having brutal life experiences. Dracula gets betrayed when his wife commits suicide, and Hannibal witnesses the murder and cannibalism of his sister to soldiers after the death of his parents. Lecter is dark, but he’s also funny. The book ends with the argument that Lecter is more than just a “bad guy.” You see his vulnerabilities and his soft spot for Clarice. Lecter has escaped, but before he disappears, he makes a brief phone call and a promise. 'I have no plans to call on you, Clarice,' he says. 'The world's more interesting with you in it. So you take care now to extend me the same courtesy.' Disorganized serial killers have no empathy, but in Lecter we get a little kindness.

The Silence of the Lambs is one of the most taunting, suspenseful, psychological thrillers ever written. This novel is harrowing, dark, moody, sober, and truly frightening, yet exhilarating. The intimate and disturbing characterisations of mass murderers who mutilate their victims (usually female) were shocking. When a person thinks about this book you would not necessarily think about communism, although one has to do with killing and the other with government, both have a similarity to manipulation. Both themes revolve around the idea of ​​how people use words to make people perform actions that only help them. Manipulation does not always have to come with the pain of weapons, aggression or brute force. In fact, it is much more effective when people use their words.

Manipulation can be a gift to some but use the power of manipulation for his/her own gain, like these serial killers. Healthy manipulation leads can people down the right path. So often people are influenced by the world around them that having a little manipulation from a peer is helpful. healthy social influence would be the influences that help us with decisions such as friends who help others with important decisions or family who is brought up a certain way. This form can benefit the person being manipulated. This just goes to show there’s good and bad in everything, even Hannibal Lecter. I think we can agree that Hannibal has an odd sort of soft spot to him. Even though he's a far more dangerous killer than Buffalo Bill, we find ourselves rooting for Lecter in a way. Lecter has charisma—which makes him the most dangerous. He's a psychiatrist, so he's able to go straight to Clarice's most vulnerable places and make her feel defenseless. It's Hopkins' chillingly riveting performance that draws you in, which is exactly what Lecter wants. Despite needing to manipulate Lecter, Clarice does not like feeling manipulated herself. No one does. But she does see that it's necessary for Jack Crawford to keep things from her in order for them to succeed. Just as Clarice Starling wants to study Lecter for the Behavioral Sciences division of the FBI, viewers, too, get a glimpse at the mind of a serial killer. We're all amateur psychologists, trying to pick apart a brain, like Clarice who must know how that kind of thought process works. The twisted mind of Hannibal Lecter is the perfect place for anyone to learn.

As Clarice pursues serial killer Buffalo Bill, she is also set back by sexism. It continually presents Clarice as an alone woman in an enclosure filled with males stepping onto an elevator filled with FBI men in suits, wandering about in a room full of male cops before an autopsy. Because of her gender, she’s constantly dealing with unwanted sexual advances. The creepy psychiatrist who works with Lecter flirts with her, as does the doctor who consults with her about the autopsy. And her relationship with Lecter is intertwined with sexualized, sadistic abuse, as he forces her to discuss traumatic details from her childhood in return for information about her serial killer case.

Although Clarice is a passive victim. She manages to confront the boss about his uncalled for and out of line sexism, her professional competence and courage allows her to defeat others’ efforts to objectify her. The book celebrates her competence, bravery, and ambition. Serial killer Buffalo Bill wants to become a woman by sewing himself a dress made out of his female victims’ skins. He’s a kind of nightmare image of Clarice herself, who is trying to shed her femininity in the workplace and model herself after father who was also a policeman passed away. When Clarice kills Bill, were left to question if she is triumphing over male sadism and violence? Or is she affirming the evil of gender nonconformity, and confirming her own status as a killer? Lecter acts as a sort of twisted father figure to Clarice throughout the film, feeding her hints and leads so that she can track down her prey. Lecter has the information Starling needs to find Buffalo Bill due to Lecter psychoanalyzing Bill years ago, but Lecter doesn’t offer up any easy answers. He plays games and blackmails his way through half-truths until he gets what he wants. Starling is smart enough to play his games, but Lecter’s presence remains overwhelming. When Clarice achieves her dream of becoming a special agent at the book’s end, the book presents Lecter’s successful prison break as a parallel happy ending. He calls her at the end of the movie, relaxed, ready to murder (and eat) his psychiatrist. He promises her that she’s safe from him and hangs up to follow after his prey, while Clarice remains on the phone, repeating his name. Lecter then gets the last word over the phone.

Twenty-five years later, Clarice Starling is still one of Hollywood’s most memorable female protagonists. She’s a woman in a man’s world due to her current FBI training. She has to prove herself double than what these men have to in order to make it in this line of work. One of the central themes of The Silence of the Lambs is survival in the face of the patriarchy’s worst evils. The scenes with Lecter work to a brilliant degree in unleashing a wave of vulnerability in Starling. This shows the readers what it has to be like to stand face to face with a man who’s capable of such evil. In order to be a woman in this world you eventually have to reconcile your vulnerability. You can fight back, but you are disproportionately targeted by sexual predators, murderers, and others. It could be the creepy feeling you have when someone follows a little too closely on a street or someone knocks on your door in the early hours of the morning. Every woman is familiar with the feeling of danger. It lingers in as the background noise that can escalate when you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you’re threatened or overwhelmed. There’s an aching fragility and dantiness that rests within women, but ironically we are made stronger by confronting this knowledge and carrying on regardless. Clarice Starling is an ideal figure for this idea since she’s constantly surrounded by women who have been cut up, ripped apart, and have no voice now that they rest on an autopsy booth, and yet still she persists in the hope of keeping other women from joining the ranks of those gone too soon. This, in turn, makes her heroic and the fact that she too curves death — with an acknowledgement through the way that she’s been framed and outnumbered by men

Works Cited

  1. Harris, Thomas. The Silence Of The Lambs. St. Martins Press.1988.
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