The Silence of the Lambs

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for The Silence of the Lambs. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Main Character Resolve

Even after Lecter has killed more people in his escape from custody, Clarice still believes she was on the right track in getting his help.  She heeds his advice and finds a vital clue in the case file, as Lecter suggested.

Main Character Growth

Steadfast in her resolve, Clarice must hold out until the process that is threatening the “lambs” (specifically the serial killer, generally all killers) comes to an end.

Main Character Approach

As a child, Clarice took action by kidnapping the lamb to save it from being slaughtered; she actively joined the FBI to go after killers, like the ones who killed her father; encountering Buffalo Bill, she tries to apprehend him herself.

Main Character Mental Sex

Clarice methodically follows up each clue provided by Hannibal Lecter and others to gather evidence that eventually leads her to Buffalo Bill.

Story Driver

“BILL SKINS FIFTH” reads the newspaper headline on Crawford’s corkboard, and on Bill’s wall.  This action leads the FBI to seek Lecter’s help; Miggs’ attack on Clarice evokes sympathy in Lecter and his decision to help her; Lecter’s clue about covetousness and his writing on the map leads Clarice to reinvestigate the Ohio murder; the moth landing on spools of thread in Gumb’s house leads Clarice to try to arrest him; Gumb’s cocking of his revolver warns Clarice and forces her to shoot him.

Story Limit

Although time is running out for the Senator’s daughter, no set time limit is indicated.  There cannot be many places where a murder victim worked as a seamstress and rare death’s head moths (which were found inside her corpse) are bred.

Story Outcome

Buffalo Bill is found and killed, the Senator’s daughter is rescued, and Clarice graduates to FBI agent status.

Story Judgment

At the story’s end, Clarice has not put her personal demons to rest.  She has no answer to Lecter’s final phone call:
LECTER (V.O.):  Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming… ?

Overall Story Throughline

""Tracking Down Buffalo Bill""

Overall Story Throughline

Faced with the predicament of a serial killer on the loose and no clues to his identity, the FBI enlists the advice of another serial killer in an effort to put an end to the situation.

Overall Story Concern

The FBI is concerned with its discovery of an increasing number of victims and the progress it is making toward locating Buffalo Bill; Clarice Starling is concerned with her progress as an FBI trainee; Buffalo Bill is concerned with the progress of his “suit of skin”;  Hannibal Lecter is concerned with the progress being made toward better accommodations (and escape); etc.

Overall Story Issue

Members of society cannot feel secure with serial killers on the loose, and expect the FBI to remove that threat.  No amount of security, even steel bars and plexiglass walls, seems to protect society, and especially Dr. Chilton, from Hannibal Lecter.  Clarice’s sense of security as a child was destroyed by her father’s death and seeing and hearing lambs slaughtered.

Overall Story Counterpoint

Men act threateningly towards women:  Miggs makes threatening gestures towards Clarice, which she ignores and he follows through by attacking her.  Buffalo Bill threatens the Senator’s daughter with the hose if she doesn’t use the skin cream.  He threatens Clarice by cocking his gun, and she responds by shooting him.

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Security vs.Threat

The organized forces of security—the largely male FBI and police—battle wits with the individual threats to society—the male serial killers Buffalo Bill and Lecter.

Overall Story Problem

Searching for what causes serial killers’ behavior stirs up more trouble for the FBI and doesn’t get them any closer to catching “Buffalo Bill.”  Dr. Chilton and the Senator’s interaction with Lecter as to Buffalo Bill’s identity (cause) creates more trouble—outdated information that almost costs the senator’s daughter her life—because they were not looking at the effects of their deception on Lecter (he is motivated to escape).

Overall Story Solution

Clarice solves the problem of Buffalo Bill’s identity by looking to the results of his actions—the victims—and deducing why he takes their skin.

Overall Story Symptom

The FBI’s Behavioral Science department follows established procedures in trying to track down serial killers.  Clarice’s mental process involves using her experience as a female when searching the victims’ rooms.

Overall Story Response

Everyone’s efforts are directed towards the final result of finding Buffalo Bill and saving the Senator’s daughter.

Overall Story Catalyst

The continuing threat to women from Buffalo Bill—especially towards the Senator’s daughter—forces the FBI to seek new leads to his identity and follow them up with all resources.

Overall Story Inhibitor

Lecter has an uncanny ability, almost a sixth sense, to discern things about Clarice that he cannot possibly know:
LECTER:  You use Evyan [sic] skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, but not today.
—and later:
LECTER:  Your bleeding has stopped.
CLARICE:  How did—(she stops herself)  It’s nothing.  It’s just a scratch.
This insight is so accurate that it leads everyone to accept and investigate the leads he gives them without question, which wastes valuable time when he misleads them.

Overall Story Benchmark

Jack Crawford assesses Clarice’s current progress in the FBI Academy:
CRAWFORD:  Your instructors tell me you’re doing well.  Top quarter of your class.
CLARICE:  I hope so.  They haven’t posted any grades yet.
In the final confrontation, Gumb (Buffalo Bill) asks Clarice:
MR. GUMB:  Are they close to catching somebody, do you think?
CLARICE:  I think we may be, yes.
MR. GUMB:  [...] Has the FBI learned something?  Because the police here don’t seem to have the first clue…  [...]  Do you have his description yet, or some fingerprints…?  [...]
CLARICE:  No… no, we don’t.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

Clarice, an inexperienced though capable female FBI cadet, is used to get information from an imprisoned serial killer, Lecter.  Her boss hopes he can lead them to another serial killer, Buffalo Bill, who is killing women and making suits out of their skin.  Finding she can only progress through trust, she allows Lecter to get inside her head and expose her fears.  When another victim is kidnapped, the race is on to find Buffalo Bill before he kills again.

Overall Story Backstory

A male criminal with a confused sexual identity, refused for sex reassignment surgery, has wreaked vengeance on five women.  Buffalo Bill has murdered and partially skinned them.  The FBI is unable to find any useful clues.  Brilliant psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter is in prison for murdering and eating nine people. Clarice, whose town marshal father was killed in the line of duty, is determined to become an FBI agent.

Main Character Throughline

Clarice Starling — Trainee FBI Agent

Main Character Throughline

Clarice’s every waking hour (and some of her dream time) is dedicated to the activity of detecting and fighting criminals, particularly serial killers, for the FBI.  Silence of the Lambs opens with a defining image of Clarice Starling as a woman of action: she’s running an obstacle course, alone, through the foggy woods.  Throughout the story, she’s always doing something, forever moving, on her feet, hardly ever even sitting down.

Main Character Concern

Clarice wants to do her job the best she can (and even outdo her father), and will do whatever it takes, even if it means retrieving preserved heads from storage lockers and attending gruesome autopsies.

Main Character Issue

Clarice believes she possesses an advantage over male FBI agents: she knows how the female victims act and think.  She can intuit that Buffalo Bill’s first victim would hide secrets in her music box; from checking her wardrobe, she figures out why diamond-shaped swatches of skin were taken from the body.

Main Character Counterpoint

By the anagrams and cryptic clues Lecter offers, Clarice must explore the greater meaning of all the information the FBI has gathered on Buffalo Bill’s victims.  As the wise Lecter tells her:
LECTER:  I’ve studied the case file, have you…?  Everything you need to find him is right in these pages.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Enlightenment vs.Wisdom

It is only by combining her female intuitive qualities with the expanded comprehension Lecter imparts that Clarice succeeds in finding the killer.  As Tootsie might say, “By being a woman, I became a better FBI agent.”

Main Character Problem

The lambs are forever screaming.  Innocents are forever victimized, and Clarice will never run out of people to save from criminals.

Main Character Solution

If serial killers would stop victimizing innocents, and lambs were safe from men with knives, Clarice (and society) could sleep easy at night.

Main Character Symptom

Clarice’s attention is so focused on the process of getting Lecter to reveal Buffalo Bill’s identity to her directly that she’s unable to discern it from the evidence that she already has.

Main Character Response

Clarice is headed in the right direction by realizing Lecter holds the key to Buffalo Bill’s identity, dogging him until he obliquely reveals it to her.

Main Character Unique Ability

Clarice’s unique ability to find Buffalo Bill’s identity and defeat him comes out of her FBI training, her UVA schooling in Psych. and Criminology, and the experience of saving the innocent lambs when she was a child.

Main Character Critical Flaw

While Clarice succeeds in saving the Senator’s daughter from becoming part of Buffalo Bill’s wardrobe, her fantasy that this will liberate her from the screaming of the lambs remains unfulfilled:
LECTER:  You still wake up sometimes, don’t you?  Wake up in the dark, and hear the screaming of the lambs?
LECTER:  Do you think if you saved poor Catherine, you could make them stop, don’t you?  You think if Catherine lives… you won’t wake up in the dark ever again… to that awful screaming of the lambs…
CLARICE:  I don’t know… I don’t know…

Main Character Benchmark

The more information she gathers, the closer Clarice comes to ending Buffalo Bill’s reign of terror and proving herself as a worthy FBI agent.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

“This is CLARICE STARLING - mid-20’s, trim, very pretty.”  (Ted Tally, unpublished first draft screenplay, 6/6/89, p.1)  “Clarice’s voice has just a trace of southern accent.”  (p. 2)
LECTER:  You’re soooo ambitious, aren’t you…?  You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes?  You look like a rube.  A well-scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste…  Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you - Agent Starling…?  And oh, how quickly the boys found you!  All those tedious, sticky fumblings, in the back seats of cars, while you could only dream of getting out.  Getting anywhere…  Getting all the way - to the F…B…I.

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

By working intimately with the serial killer Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling uncovers the identity of another serial killer, Buffalo Bill.  She succeeds in rescuing the Senator’s daughter he’s kidnapped and in killing him, and becomes an FBI agent of whom her father would have been proud.  However, she’s still haunted by the sight and sounds of lambs being slaughtered that she experienced as a child, a metaphor for the innocent people who will continue to be slaughtered despite her efforts.

Main Character Backstory

In addition to her experience in saving lambs, Clarice’s drive to apprehend killers comes largely from the loss of her father:
LECTER:  What is your worst memory of childhood?
CLARICE:  The death of my father.  [...] He was a town marshal… one night he surprised two burglars, coming out the back of a drugstore…  They shot him.
LECTER:  Was he killed outright?
CLARICE:  No.  He was very strong… he lasted almost a month.  My mother died when I was very young, so my father had become - the whole world to me…  When he left me, I had nothing.  I was ten years old.

Influence Character Throughline

Hannibal Lecter — Expert on serial killing

Influence Character Throughline

Using his almost mind-reading ability to assess people’s personalities, Lecter manipulates them to his own ends.

Influence Character Concern

To get out of his cell and to Tennessee, Lecter pretends to cooperate with Dr. Chilton and the Senator.  To escape the SWAT team guarding his cage, he temporarily acts like Buffalo Bill by cutting off his guard’s face and wearing it as a disguise.

Influence Character Issue

Though Lecter knows his captors will never let him out of his cell alive, his thoughts still allow him to dream of a room with a view.  While he considers others inferior to him, he’s constantly fascinated with their thoughts:
LECTER:  Jack Crawford is helping your career, isn’t he?  Apparently he likes you.  And you like him, too.
CLARICE:  I never thought about it.
LECTER:  Do you think Crawford wants you, sexually?  True, he’s much older, but - do you think he visualizes… scenarios, exchanges…?  Fucking you?

Influence Character Counterpoint

Lecter’s unique knowledge is what Clarice seeks from him, but he refuses to give it to her directly, preferring to give her half-truths and anagrams to decipher.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Thought vs.Knowledge

Clarice seeks Lecter’s knowledge of Buffalo Bill’s identity, but has to endure Lecter’s thoughts on her personal problems, his reflections on eating people, and his musings about his “love” relationship with her on the way.

Influence Character Problem

Hannibal Lecter is driven to cause pain to people, pain both physical and psychological in nature.  In this, he resembles Buffalo Bill (Gumb), who taunts the Senator’s daughter:
MR. GUMB:  You think she’s in pain?  You don’t know what pain is.  But you’re going to find out…
In addition to suffering the mental torture of reliving the slaughter of the lambs at Lecter’s request, Clarice must endure the physical pain of the FBI’s obstacle course to acquire the strength to deal with his ilk.  As a sign on a tree reads:  “HURT. AGONY. PAIN.—LOVE IT.”

Influence Character Solution

The effect of love for another human being on Lecter begins to show itself in his final phone call to her:
LECTER:  I have no plans to call on you, Clarice, the world being more interesting with you in it.

Influence Character Symptom

When Dr. Chilton taunts Lecter with the fact that Clarice lied about Anthrax Island, Lecter deals with Chilton and the Senator instead, feeding them inaccurate information.

Influence Character Response

When Clarice lies to Lecter about transferring out, he responds by lying back, giving a false lead to the Senator and jeopardizing her daughter’s life:
LECTER:  Pity you tried to fool me, isn’t it?  Pity for poor Catherine.  Tick-tock…

Influence Character Unique Ability

Once stimulated by false hope from Clarice, Lecter’s 8-year-long desire for a better environment takes over his consciousness and thwarts her attempts to pry Buffalo Bill’s identity from him.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

Lecter attaches such a high value to the information he possesses—Buffalo Bill’s identity—that he gullibly believes the FBI when they offer him a better prison and a seaside vacation.

Influence Character Benchmark

When Lecter’s plan of cutting a deal with Clarice as a way out of his cell leads nowhere, he spies Chilton’s gold pen and conceives of its use in a better escape plan.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

“A face so long out of the sun, it seems almost leached—except for the glittering eyes, and the wet red mouth.  He rises smoothly, crossing to stand before her:  the gracious host.  His voice is cultured, soft.”  (Tally, p.10.)
CHILTON:  Oh, he’s a monster.  Pure psychopath.  So rare to capture one alive.  From a research point of view, Lecter is our most prized asset.

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Imprisoned for his serial killings, Hannibal Lecter will grasp any opportunity to get out:
LECTER:  I’ve been in this room for eight years now, Clarice.  I know they will never, ever let me out while I’m alive.  What I want is a view.  I want a window where I can see a tree, or even water.  I want to be in a federal institution, far away from Dr. Chilton.  [...]  I’m offering you a psychological profile of Buffalo Bill, based on the case evidence.  I’ll help you catch him, Clarice.
He trades information with Clarice, switching allegiance to Chilton and the Senator when betrayed, and finally escaping.

Influence Character Backstory

As a brilliant former psychiatrist, Lecter delights in getting Clarice to reveal her personal problems.  As a serial killer himself, Lecter is reluctant to reveal what he knows about serial killers’ behavioral patterns.  Clarice is dedicated to tracking and stopping killers, and she may use his own information to come after him.

Relationship Story Throughline

""Silencing Clarice's Lambs""

Relationship Story Throughline

Clarice’s position on people is they should be saved from harm; rescued from would-be slaughterers.  Lecter believes people are better cooked, and eaten with fava beans and a good Chianti.

Relationship Story Concern

Lecter’s impulses as a psychiatrist drive him to learn Clarice’s deepest secrets.  Her training as an FBI agent makes her instinctively hide her fears:
CAMPBELL:  You tell him nothing personal, Starling.  Believe me, you don’t want Hannibal Lecter inside your head…
But only by exposing herself to him can she learn the information she needs to rescue the Senator’s daughter and silence her screaming lambs.

Relationship Story Issue

Lecter is confident that Clarice—“a rube”—is guileless:
LECTER:  You’re very frank, Clarice.  I think—it would be quite something to know you in private life.
She is honest, but when she unwittingly deceives him, he reverts to the confidence he has in his manipulation skills to get him out of his cell and to Tennessee.

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Clarice worries about getting too close to criminals like Lecter and Buffalo Bill, perhaps deterred by her father’s fate.  She jumps each time Lecter slams his sliding food tray, hesitates to take what he puts in it, even when it’s only a towel.  But when he does make contact, it’s only to gently stroke her finger—her worries were unfounded.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Confidence vs.Worry

Clarice’s confidence in her abilities as an FBI agent butts up against Lecter’s record of outwitting all in his path and killing many.  Confidence eventually wins out, as Clarice gets her information and Lecter confesses he is not after her, negating her personal worries about him.

Relationship Story Problem

Clarice’s selling of the island vacation scenario (inaccurate) to Lecter gives him false hope.  Betrayed, he retaliates by giving Buffalo Bill’s identity to the Senator—but the name he gives, Louis Friend, is an invention (an anagram of iron sulfide—fool’s gold), and leads the FBI on a false trail.

Relationship Story Solution

Clarice convinces Lecter to return to their old, truthful relationship, before she misled him about “Anthrax Island.”  He gives her a lecture about simplicity and coveting what you see every day, which later leads her back to the first victim and to Buffalo Bill.

Relationship Story Symptom

Clarice, through Crawford, focuses on the bargaining process to get information out of Lecter, offering him what he says he wants, a better view.  This backfires when the deception is revealed, and Lecter sticks with his process of manipulation, playing Dr. Chilton and the Senator against Clarice and Crawford.

Relationship Story Response

Clarice keeps asking Lecter for one thing—Buffalo Bill’s identity.  Dismayed by Clarice’s deception, Lecter directs his efforts toward the result he really desires—escape from custody and revenge on Dr. Chilton—and ends his meetings with Clarice.

Relationship Story Catalyst

After Lecter has been scammed by the Anthrax Island offer and threatened by Dr. Chilton, his concern about ever escaping drives him to cut short his relationship with Clarice and deal with the Senator directly.

Relationship Story Inhibitor

Lecter refuses to give out the real clue to Buffalo Bill’s identity until he can get deeper inside Clarice’s mind, forcing her to reflect on her lamb trauma.

Relationship Story Benchmark

Lecter’s parting lesson to Clarice—on covetousness—shows that he now considers her capable of finding Buffalo Bill’s identity from the case file without further help from him:
LECTER:  First principles, Clarice.  Simplicity.  Read Marcus Aurelius.  Of each particular thing, ask:  What is it, in itself, what is its nature…?  What does he do, this man you seek?

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

While Clarice hopes to join the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, it is the brilliant Lecter who is the expert on serial killers, being one himself.  In an effort to learn what he knows, she must let him inside her head and engage him in an uneven battle of intellects.  He gives her cryptic clues to solve, while she deceives him with promises of a room with a view.

Relationship Story Backstory

Clarice double-majored in Psych and Criminology at UVA, and interned at a psychiatric clinic, but has no direct experience with serial killers.  She did save that lamb from slaughter, but it was brought back and killed anyway.  Crawford selected her as:
CHILTON:  A pretty young woman, to turn him on?  I don’t believe Lecter’s even seen a woman in eight years.  And oh, are you ever his “taste”—so to speak.
Lecter has carved nine people, eaten the liver of one and the tongue of a female prison nurse.  As Clarice learns:
CHILTON:  [...]  We’ve tried to study him, of course—but he’s much too sophisticated for the standard tests.  And my, does he hate us!  Thinks I’m his nemesis…
[Note:  In the first draft screenplay, Crawford tells Clarice:
CRAWFORD:  He once pretended to go along with some tests given to him by Dr. Chilton, the asylum’s chief administrator, and then published his own findings first.  What he’d learned about Prentiss.  Made a total fool of the man.]

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Everyone is concerned with what progress is being made to discover Buffalo Bill’s identity, especially before he can kill his sixth victim.

Overall Story Consequence

If Buffalo Bill is not stopped, he will be free to act on his impulses and kill the Senator’s daughter.  Society may become conditioned to the existence of serial killers.  News of their activities may then move from front page headlines to a column at the foot of page nine.

Overall Story Cost

Clarice must endure being used as a pawn by Ray Crawford, mainly to get under Lecter’s skin as sexual and psychological bait.  She’s also treated as a sex object by Dr. Chilton, and the cross-eyed entomologist.  Lecter assumes the identity of the guard he murdered in order to escape.  On her televised plea to the kidnapper, the tough Senator Martin plays the role of the loving concerned mother to the hilt.

Overall Story Dividend

Clarice benefits from her role as a female, getting the Lecter assignment from Crawford and allowing Lecter to psychologically seduce her.  She uses her gender to her advantage at the autopsy, clearing the room of male cops by acting as mother hen.

Overall Story Requirements

Maintaining her current access to Lecter is essential if Clarice is to learn Buffalo Bill’s identity from him, which is why she tells Lecter’s guards she’s part of Chilton’s team.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Though Clarice has all the facts (in Buffalo Bill’s case file), she must reconsider her evaluation of them (with Lecter’s prompting) to learn Bill’s identity.

Overall Story Preconditions

Crawford and Clarice conceive of a jail transfer as reward for Lecter’s cooperation, engendered by Lecter’s desire for a way out of his cell.

Overall Story Forewarnings

As Clarice gathers more information about Buffalo Bill’s victims, she learns that he keeps them alive only long enough to starve them and loosen their skins.

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Clarice is finishing up her FBI training; Buffalo Bill has moved on to his fifth skinning victim, while hundreds of cops are merely “grabbing at straws” in attempts to find him; Crawford is getting nowhere in his attempts to interview Lecter.

Overall Story Journey 1 from Progress to Future

The Objective Story accelerates from characters trying to make sense of the facts they’ve gathered, to intense concern about what will happen to the Senator’s daughter if they don’t.

Overall Story Signpost 2

The Objective Story gets more complicated with Buffalo Bill’s kidnapping of the Senator’s daughter.  Her future becomes everybody’s concern, as Clarice is included on the case.  Clarice and Crawford promise Lecter a better future if he cooperates, but not if she dies.

Overall Story Journey 2 from Future to Present

Emphasis shifts from worry over what might happen to a desperation over what to do now to prevent it.

Overall Story Signpost 3

Dr. Chilton makes a real deal with Lecter and the Senator, but only if:
CHILTON:  You’ll answer me now, or by God, you’ll never leave this…  Who is Buffalo Bill?
Lecter takes advantage of his new circumstances in Tennessee to make an escape; the Senator’s daughter seizes the moment and grabs Buffalo Bill’s dog; Clarice obsesses over the evidence in the case file.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Present to Past

The characters’ frustration with what’s in front of them leads them to place hope in well-trodden ground, leading to the OS climax.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Crawford delves into Jame Gumb’s past and takes his SWAT team to Gumb’s last known address; Clarice goes back to Buffalo Bill’s first victim and traces her to a previous work location, finding Buffalo Bill; Lecter reverts to his penchant for eating people.

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Clarice is finishing up her education at the FBI Academy when she’s recruited to learn what she can about Hannibal Lecter and what he knows.

Main Character Journey 1 from Learning to Obtaining

When she realizes Lecter trusts and respects her as a person, Clarice is ready to deal with him for Buffalo Bill’s identity.

Main Character Signpost 2

Clarice’s mission becomes to obtain Buffalo Bill’s identity from Lecter.

Main Character Journey 2 from Obtaining to Understanding

The more clues Clarice gets from Lecter, the more she must expose herself in order to appreciate how killers think.

Main Character Signpost 3

Clarice struggles to comprehend how all the facts she possesses add up.

Main Character Journey 3 from Understanding to Doing

Figuring out what the map pattern and covetousness add up to, Clarice follows the trail to Buffalo Bill.

Main Character Signpost 4

Having interpreted the case file, Clarice tracks down Buffalo Bill and confronts him in the OS climax.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Lecter can’t imagine how the FBI expects to get information from him by sending a rookie like Clarice, but envisions a way to deal his way out of his cell.

influence Character Journey 1 from Conceptualizing to Being

Upset when the deal he’s looked forward to sours, Lecter shifts his concern to deceiving Chilton and the Senator.

Influence Character Signpost 2

Lecter pretends to cooperate with Dr. Chilton and the Senator, in order to escape his asylum cell.  He plays possum in his new cage to lower the guards’ defenses.

Influence Character Journey 2 from Being to Becoming

Encouraged by his fooling of his captors, Lecter becomes the guard Pembry in order to escape, then assumes the EMT’s identity.

Influence Character Signpost 3

Hannibal the Cannibal slices off Officer Pembry’s face and wears it, transforming his appearance to get past the Tennessee SWAT team and escape.

Influence Character Journey 3 from Becoming to Conceiving

Delighted at his transformation into a free man, Lecter hatches his plan to revenge himself on Dr. Chilton.

Influence Character Signpost 4

Now that Lecter is free, he comes up with the idea that Clarice will not come after him, quid pro quo for his not stalking her.  He also has plans for his next meal:
LECTER:  [...]  I’m having an old friend for dinner.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

At their first meeting, Clarice comments upon Lecter’s drawings:
CLARICE:  All that detail, just from memory…?
LECTER:  Memory, Officer Starling, is what I have instead of a view.
His assessment of her background based on her appearance causes her to recollect her late loving father.

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Memory to PreconsciousClarice and Lecter move from getting-to-know-you fond memories to her gut response to the killings.
Relationship Story Signpost 2

Lecter’s fascinated by how Clarice responds to viewing gruesome corpses, first the transvestite in the car:
LECTER:  How did you feel when you saw him, Clarice?  May I call you Clarice?
CLARICE:  Scared, at first.  Then - exhilarated.
LECTER:  Ahhh… Why?
CLARICE:  Because you weren’t wasting my time.
—and with Buffalo Bill’s victim:
LECTER:  Tell me, how did you feel when you viewed our Billy’s latest effort? [...]
CLARICE:  By the book, he’s a sadist.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Preconscious to Subconscious

As Lecter gets deeper inside Clarice’s head, the subject shifts from her professional reactions to killing to their personal drives—escaping and silencing the lambs, respectively.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Lecter probes deeper into Clarice’s psyche and finds what’s motivating her to track serial killers—the screaming of the lambs.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Subconscious to Conscious

Hurt by Clarice’s betrayal, Lecter considers their relationship at an end, while Clarice contemplates the message he left her with.

Relationship Story Signpost 4

Lecter says a final goodbye to Clarice by telephone.  Her influence has mellowed him, and for the first time he doesn’t want to victimize somebody he got close to.  Clarice, though, remains steadfast—she still considers him a threat to society.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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