Novel: Silence of the lambs, he’s an antagonist
“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti” This quote comes from the twisted gothic novel ‘Silence of the lambs’. In this novel, an FBI agent named Clarice is sent to investigate the file of Buffalo Bill who is a serial killer. She is asked to meet with Hannibal Lector in order to get details on who Buffalo Bill is and to give her details which will help in the arrest of Buffalo Bill in exchange for Clarice’s worst childhood memory. Thomas Harris has used contradicting statements to show how one of the protagonists of the novel (Hannibal Lector) has contrasting qualities. I will be explaining how Thomas Harris has done this and how Hannibal Lector isn’t who he really seems to be and how he is a sociopath. As well as that Lector has the gothic trait of ‘need to know’. He needs to know about Clarice’s past. I will be explaining this and saying how it made me react as well as Harris’s intentions. I will also be talking about how some things aren’t as they seem. I think Thomas Harris has tried to give us the idea of the metaphorical term ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. This is a very big issue in the world nowadays. We often judge people before actually knowing them and this can be very dangerous. For example, a couple of years ago two young girls judged someone in a car by how they looked and spoke. This caused them to be kidnapped and beaten all because they thought someone was nice by the way they looked. All because they judge a book by its cover.
There are six traits to a gothic protagonist and Hannibal Lector clearly shows one of them. He clearly shows the trait of distinct contrasting qualities. Contrasting qualities also are a prominent trait in a sociopath which I think Hannibal Lector is. Throughout the novel, Hannibal Lector shows this trait. He says “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” This shows him talking about a very dark and disturbing subject in a very calm and collected manner. This is the trait of contrasting qualities and shows that Hannibal Lector has a hidden side to him. He has a what would seem kind and caring side to him but at the same time, he has a disturbed and sick side to him. He helps Clarice to locate and arrest Buffalo Bill. This is his kind side. He seems to be a helpful person but in reality, he is far from that. He has a contrasting side to him which is that he is an evil human being. He talks about eating human beings liver like it is a meal. This is his sick and disturbed side. This is how he has contrasting qualities. Thomas Harris has done this for a reason. He wanted to make us think that Lector was good only to create a plot twist and make Lector kill some policemen and escape. He did this to make the story more interesting. This surprised me. I thought Lecor, even though he had done bad in the past, was actually being helpful and kind. However this was all just to find a way to escape. I reacted this way because it caught me by surprise. I didn’t expect Lector to deceive everyone but he did and he deceived me too.
A sociopath is a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour. A sociopath will act in a way that they think fits in with society. We can tell if someone is a sociopath as they don’t show any real emotions. They are fake. However, it is very easy to judge a book by its cover because sociopaths will adapt their behaviour to suit what society accepts as kind and caring. This is extremely dangerous and you wouldn’t even know it was happening. I think that gothic protagonists are often sociopaths. Hannibal Lector is what I would describe as a sociopath and a psychopath. He acts as if he wants to be helpful in finding Buffalo Bill, however, all he is doing is looking for an escape. He does nothing to help anyone unless he benefits from the situation. He deceives everyone even us as a reader. Poe has done this very cleverly.
Hannibal Lector also shows the trait of the need to know about clarifies past. He says that he will only help if he is told about Clarice’s past “I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself.” Lector only cares about the past but doesn’t care in the slightest about his the case. This shows his need to know for Clarice’s past. I think Thomas Harris has done this for a reason. I think Harris has done this to show us that Lector doesn’t have in any interest in the case but instead only about other things. He only cares about Clarice because he is creepy and perverted. This makes me feel uneasy and cautious with this character. I think I reacted like this because if Lector actually wanted to help and be kind then he would ask questions about the case and not about the detectives past.
I reacted to this novel in a very uneasy way. I found Hannibal Lectors contrasting qualities very weird and uneasy. This is because he spoke as if doing some completely insane were just normal everyday activities. I think I reacted this way because it’s not every day that someone talks about eating another humans liver as if it were a meal. It is completely morally wrong and quite disturbing. It offered an unexplainable emotion to me. The trait of need to know creeped me out and also made me feel un easy. I think Thomas Harris is presenting a warning to us as a reader to not judge a book by its cover and to be careful. Harris showed us how Hannibal Lector showed the trait ‘contrasting qualities and need to know’ which is a trait of a gothic protagonist. This is a rather twisted novel and it shows the idea of don’t judge a book by its cover in a very extreme way. It made me want to think twice before trusting someone as for all we know they could have other intentions other than being nice.