The Silence Of The Lambs By Thomas

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The Silence Of The Lambs By Thomas Harris Essay, Research Paper The innocent title Silence of the Lambs totally belies the content of this novel by American writer Thomas Harris. It is an eerie tale of a young female F.B.I. academy student, Clarice Starling, who with the help of institutionalised psychologist Dr Hannibal The Cannibal Lector strives to ensnare the seemingly insane and bloodthirsty serial killer Jame Gumb, alias Buffalo Bill. To describe the novel as a thriller or crime story would be insulting. Harris has entwined complex undertones with the basic storyline which cause the story to turn positively horrific at times. The most frightening aspect of the book is the constant insights Harris gives into the tangled and twisted mind of the killer. In so many other

novels of this genre the detective takes centre stage, leaving the murderer as a background figure who the reader knows little or nothing about. However, in Silence of the Lambs Harris constantly tells us of Buffalo Bill s thoughts, emotions and background, bringing him into the spotlight as a main character and in my opinion effectively making him appear much more sinister and threatening. Buffalo Bill – conveyed to us by Harris in the form of a white male, brown haired and blue eyed, six feet one, thirty four years of age with no distinguishing marks. A transvestite who in the privacy of his own home dresses up in women s clothing and practices feminine behaviour. Hormones and electrolysis have done a little for his body hair and shape, but he still looks like a man, one who

in Harris s words looks inclined to fight with his nails as well as his fists and feet. Victims of Buffalo Bill are commonly found floating in rivers, with variously shaped patches of their skin flayed. Without fail the killer s talisman is present, a rare Death s Head moth lodged in the rear of the throat. Drowning is never the cause of death, as discovered by the coroner in the post mortem examination. Usually a bullet wound or a raw noose mark appear in the victim. The police are baffled, and create various suggestions to answer the big question – for what purpose does Buffalo Bill slay? Every one of his victims are women, all are on the heavy side. Cannibalism, anger, sexual frustration, social resentment .the list goes on and on, but nothing could be further from the

truth. He Covets. These are Dr Lectors words to Starling when she asks him about Buffalo Bill, Lector having encountered him for therapy before being institutionalised. This is the true reason why the killer does what he does – he wants a women s suit, made out of real women. This is also why all of his victims are large, especially around the hips. The shapes cut out of the bodies are identical to those marked out on a dressmakers dummy. It would be easy to say that the killer is a homosexual turned psychopath, who treasures women s skin and wears it like clothing in some insane transvestite ritual, but the truth goes much deeper than that, his reasons for killing lie not only in his intense desires to become a woman, they are also rooted in his childhood influences and the

perfect image he has created of his mother who abandoned him when he was an infant. Jame Gumb. Born as James Gumb but for the mistake of a young hired help at the hospital who got his name wrong on his birth certificate. Abandoned by his alcoholic mother, a psychotic child who savagely murdered his grandparents at twelve years of age, assumedly for disparaging his mother whom he idolised. Places in a mental institution through his teenage years and early twenties, Gumb developed a huge interest in sewing, landing a job as a seamster. Occasionally he would do odd jobs for an old woman near where he lived, but when she mysteriously died whilst on a trip with Gumb he inherited her wealth and property. The rambling house in a quiet location with its maze like expanse of basement