Clarice Starling

From Academic Kids

Clarice Starling is a fictional character in the novels The Silence Of The Lambs and Hannibal by Thomas Harris.

In the movie of The Silence of the Lambs she is played by Jodie Foster, and in the movie of Hannibal she is played by Julianne Moore. (Foster turned down the role in the sequel.)

In The Silence Of The Lambs, Starling is in her mid-twenties and a student at the FBI training school. She hopes to work at the Behavioural Science lab, tracking down serial killers. As a chore, she is asked to interview Hannibal Lecter, a serial-murderer and psychiatrist who is held in a mental asylum. After a shaky start, Lecter seems to form some sort of bond with Starling and eventually offers help in catching a serial killer who is currently on the loose, Buffalo Bill.

We also learn some of Starling's history. She was raised in a small town in Virginia and when she was about 9 her father—a night watchman—was shot dead by robbers. Starling went to live with on a farm with a foster family, from which she briefly ran away in horror when she witnessed lambs being slaughtered (hence the title of the book.) The incident haunted her for years afterward.

She spent the rest of her childhood in an Lutheran orphanage. She graduated from college at the top of her class and became a star student of the training school, attracting the attention of FBI director Jack Crawford, who selected her to interview Lecter.

During the novel, Starling is the subject of the crude and lewd attentions of Lecter's captor, the asylum manager Frederick Chilton. She rebuffs him, much to his annoyance, which probably helps her bond with Lecter, who also despises Chilton.

During the investigation, Starling and Lecter form a strange relationship in which Lecter demands personal details about her life in return for his consultation (in the form of cryptic, riddling information designed to help Starling figure it out for herself.) The two grow to respect each other, so when Lecter escapes, Starling feels sure that he won't come after her.

Acting on a hunch that one of Buffalo Bill's victims had a personal relationship with him, Starling goes to the victim's home in Columbus, Ohio to interview people who knew her, and unknowingly stumbles onto the killer himself, a man named Jame Gumb. When she sees a Death's Head moth (the same kind that Bill stuffs in his victims' throats) flutter through Gumb's house, she knows she has her man and tries to arrest him. Gumb flees and Starling follows him into his basement, where his latest victim is alive and screaming for help. Gumb stalks Starling wearing night vision goggles and is about to kill her when she hears him from behind and opens fire, killing him. The victim is rescued. Lecter writes Starling a letter from a hotel room somewhere in Detroit before he escapes to Florence, Italy, wishing her good luck in silencing the screaming of the lambs.

In Hannibal, Starling is aged 32 and a full-fledged FBI agent. Lecter is free following his escape, whereabouts unknown. A bungled drug raid leaves Starling suspended from duty, at which point she receives a letter from Lecter, who is in Florence, Italy, soaking up the cultural delights of the old city. One of Lecter's surviving victims, Mason Verger, is after Lecter and has offered a huge reward, which an Italian detective named Pazzi tries to claim by hunting Lecter. Lecter finds out about the plan, kills Pazzi, and flees back to the US. He stalks Starling, although without homicidal intentions, whilst Starling is being harassed and chased out of the FBI by various antagonistic agents (including Paul Krendler, who hates Starling after she turned down his attempt at seduction.) Starling tries to hunt down Lecter herself, partly to capture him but mainly to save him from Verger's sadistic grasp.

When Starling is wounded in a gunfight at Verger's farm (in which Verger is killed), Lecter nurses her back to health and makes her his lover through a regimen of mind-altering drugs, brainwashing and psychological conditioning. Lecter kidnaps and lobotomizes Krendler, and he and Starling feast on his brain. They run off together and disappear, although Lecter's former guard Barney Matthews reported seeing them together in Buenos Aires in 1993.</p>

In the movie version of Hannibal, screenwriters Steve Zaillian and David Mamet changed the ending (which was widely unpopular with both critics and fans) to portray Starling as trying to apprehend Lecter rather than giving in to him; she handcuffs herself to him and calls the police. Lecter threatens her with a meat cleaver, with which he then chops off his own hand with so he can escape.


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