Study Guide

The Silence of the Lambs Manipulation

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We live in a world where people try to manipulate us every minute of the day.

Advertisers want to sell you stuff. (This body spray makes you irresistible!) Charities want you to donate money (Dump water on your head and cure a disease!) And movies want you to purchase a ticket, stream them, or buy the DVD. (This is the best serial killer movie ever!) Some of these manipulations are more harmless than others. The Silence of the Lambs however, doesn't have the word "harmless" in its vocabulary. In this movie, the characters are engaged in a game with life-or-death stakes, making the way they try to influence other very interesting indeed.

At least no one tries to impersonate a Nigerian prince for money.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. How do the characters manipulate each other into getting what they want?
  2. Does Lecter trick Clarice into telling him her life story, or does she do it of her own free will?
  3. How does Jack Crawford manipulate Clarice? Is he right to do so, or should he give her the insight and information she wants?

Chew on This

The Silence of the Lambs shows people manipulating others for bad (Buffalo Bill tricking Catherine into the van) and for good (Clarice making a fake offer to Hannibal Lecter in order to save Catherine). There's a big gray area when it comes to manipulation.

Despite needing to manipulate Lecter, Clarice does not like feeling manipulated herself. No one does. But she does see that it's necessary for Jack Crawford to keep things from her in order for them to succeed.

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