Consider the Presentation of the Mind of a Murderer in "The Wasp Factory" and "The Silence of the Lambs".

Topics: Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, The Silence of the Lambs Pages: 9 (3741 words) Published: December 11, 2006
Consider the presentation of the mind of a murderer in "The Wasp Factory" and "The Silence of the Lambs".

"The Silence of the Lambs," by Thomas Harris, and "The Wasp Factory," by Iain Banks, are both twentieth century novels that portray the minds of two different serial killers. "The Silence of the Lambs" is a thriller about how F. B. I. agent in training, Clarice Starling, is sent to question the "evil" cannibalistic serial killer, Dr Hannibal Lecter, on how to find a killer on the loose. "The Wasp Factory," on the other hand, is described as a gothic horror story about the extraordinary private world of Frank Cauldhame. Frank is a teenage girl who, after being savaged by a dog at a young age, was raised for sixteen years as a boy due to her father seeing it as an "ideal opportunity for a little experiment" to remove "the influence of the female around him." This was due to his hatred towards Frank's mother, who "had deserted him almost immediately" after Frank's birth only to return three years later "carrying somebody else's baby." After giving birth to Paul she leaves again, running Frank's father over in the process when he tried to stop her. The thematic link between these two novels is largely associated with murder as both Frank and Lecter have already committed their crimes before the novels had begun. However, while Frank hasn't been caught, and probably never will be, Lecter has been imprisoned and is kept in a high security cell to prevent him from hurting others. The main difference between the structures of the two novels is that "The Wasp Factory" is told from Frank's point of view, so the reader, is shown how she felt when she committed her crimes. It also provides us with a clearer picture of the type of person she is. "The Silence of the Lambs" differs from this because the novel is written in the third person narrative, mainly follows the actions of Clarice Starling. While this gives the reader a clear idea to how the presence of Lecter makes others feel, it gives us very little insight into why Lecter would perform these horrific crimes and what he was feeling while he committed them. "The Wasp Factory" opens with Frank saying how she was "making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles" when she heard that her "brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me." This opening paragraph is used to draw the reader into the novel. It does this by supplying to the reader a series of questions, such as ‘What are the Sacrifice Poles?', ‘What is the Factory?' and ‘Where did Frank's brother escape from and why?' These questions tempt the reader to read on to find the answers. The author, Iain Banks, uses this technique throughout this novel, with Frank mentioning things, such as "The Truth About Frank" and "the lesson of Eric," that grabs the reader's attention and causes them to read on. In a contrast to this, "The Silence of the Lambs" opens with Clarice Starling being urgently summoned to see Jack Crawford. This first chapter sets the story of the novel, with Clarice being briefed on her case to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter to "build up a database for psychological profiling" on serial killers. It also gives the reader their first introduction to the character of Lecter through the eyes of another character, with him being described as "a monster." The author, Thomas Harris, describes Lecter in this way to show the reader that despite the way in which he acts towards Clarice, being mostly civil towards her, Lecter has still done horrific things, and given the chance he would do them again.

Even through both Frank and Dr. Lecter are serial killers, both of these characters contrast in many ways. One of the main differences between the protagonists is their backgrounds. Before he was captured Lecter was "a psychiatrist," and lived a very refined life. This is shown through-out the novel by him "perusing the Italian edition of Vogue" and...
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