Silence of the lambs essay questions

He is the kind of sexual freak that took the place of werewolves, vampires and strangers with candy as suburban boogey men to be pointed out to kids as something to be avoided. By contrast, Hannibal Lecter is a great artist, an actual doctor with an actual Ph. D, speaks several language and, above all else, is charming. In other words, despite the cannibalism and the sociopathy, Lecter is a much easier for the average person to relate as someone who is not occupying a lower level on the evolutionary scale than the rest of us. The novel thus makes the point that when society chooses its monsters, it does not necessarily choose them on the basis of evil acts alone.

How might Lecter also be deemed politically less monstrous as a concept of the Other than Jame Gumb?

The feminist failure of “Silence of the Lambs”

Gumb kills sad, overweight teenage girls and skins them. His modus operandi essentially confines him to the outer reaches of what society can ever deem acceptable in its very willing ability to accept acts of evil…when necessary. Gumb kills victims in every sense of the word.


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Lecter, by contrast, kills annoying and intrusive census takers, armed cops, a privileged Princeton student and, more likely than not, the his officious yet incompetent jailer, Chilton. Readers may not root for cops to be killed any more than they they would root for a teenage girl, but—like Chilton to a high degree and the census taker to a lesser degree—they are symbols of authority and the oppression they wield.

This pattern will continue after Hannibal makes his escape; just as it somehow easier to at least want to identity with Lecter rather than Gumb, so it is just a little tougher to care quite as deeply about his victims as one would naturally care about the prey hunted by Buffalo Bill. Identifying with Lecter therefore becomes at some point a political decision, if only subconsciously. What is Harris ultimately signifying to the audience about the relationship between the ancient concept of evil and modern science?

Strip away all the themes and complexities of character and The Silence of the Lambs is at its core an example of the crime fiction genre known as the police procedural.

The Enduring Feminist Vision of 'The Silence of the Lambs'

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