Analysis of Clarice Starling in Jonathan Demme's Rendition of Thomas Harris' Silence of the Lambs

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  • Topic: The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter, Hannibal
  • Pages : 5 (1800 words )
  • Download(s) : 144
  • Published : April 28, 2013
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Zabed Muriuki
Catherine Rose
English 101
15 March 2013
Comparison Analysis In Relation to a Primary Text
Jonathon Demme’s cinematic rendition of The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris, gives rise to two articles that wrestle to pinpoint the source of Clarice’s strength and to describe what Harris and Demme intended to portray by developing Clarice as they did. While both Bruce Robbins’ “Murder and Mentorship: Advancement in Silence of the Lambs” and Gregg Garrett’s “Objecting to Objectification: Reviewing the feminine in Silence of the Lambs” focus on the main character’s, Clarice Starling’s, trials as a bright, young woman striving in a field which is run by men, their views on Clarice as an aspiring detective, and their views on Clarice as a woman set them apart. Bruce Robbins expresses his viewpoints by using any and all relevant evidence to persuade the audience whereas Gregg Garrett relies mainly on the novel’s text and his persuasive writing style to press his opinions. Clarice Starling’s rise as a psychoanalyst can be viewed through many lenses and paradigms but Garrett and Robbins argue for two very prevalent mindsets. Gregg Garrett argues that mainly her sex and her environment drive Clarice Starling’s success; Bruce Robbins hones in on the discussion of strong emotions and Starling’s past. To Garrett, the strength of Clarice Starling, caused by her gender, is shown very early in Demme’s film. He points out that “After a male instructor calls her off of the course, she steps into an elevator full of tall men dressed in red who loom ominously over her” (Garrett 4). It is important that the men are dressed in red but more so it is important that these people are men and are much bigger than Clarice. This shows that many of the important men surrounding Clarice are to be considered as intimidating and even overwhelming in their sheer magnitude. Always Clarice has men in positions above her who loom over her yet she must prosper at all costs. Garrett goes on to point out that Clarice’s ambitious nature is also quelled in that she must be “cautious about accepting something that may smack of the secretarial; while she is anxious to get a foot in the door at Behavioral Science ‘she knew what happened to a woman if she’s ever pegged as a secretary- it sticks until the end of time’” (Garrett 4). Clarice wants success more than anything but her eager nature doesn’t overtake her ability to point out positions which are detrimental to her career. Garrett acknowledges that Clarice’s exceptional success comes from a drive, which is fueled by and maintained by forces that many others lack. Garrett contends that in contrast to John Brigham, the man who spear-headed the investigation and capture of Hannibal Lecter, Clarice isn’t ultimately successful in attaining information from Lecter or even in attaining information from crime scenes because of her ability to empathize with serial killers. It is Clarice’s ability to empathize with each of the victims that makes her so successful in saving Buffalo Bill’s next victim before he can get the chance to skin her alive. The screaming lambs of Clarice’s dreams best describe her dilemma during the duration of the investigation. Despite all her efforts, Clarice is unable to save the lambs and it haunts her frequently, if not constantly. This connection to Bill’s victims is parallel to the connection with the lambs. Always she feels personally responsible for their fates and she wishes to save them. Robbins’ article dissents from this logic in a few ways. Most importantly, Robbins believes that Clarice’s success comes from her ability to suppress emotions and sexual desires. He even states, “Starling’s professional rise is accompanied, or even enabled, by the dictatorial management not just of sex or anger but of emotion as such” (Robbins 79). That is to say that Clarice is able to move forward in the gruesome vocation of catching serial killers because she’s good at not...
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