In Silence of the Lambs, through whose eyes do we witness the portrayal of the villain?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that whether one sees the villain as Buffalo Bill or as the society that is mute on the objectification of women in multiple forms, it is evident that we see these forces through the eyes of Clarice Starling.  She is the transformative force of good, driven by the need to help others, prevent suffering, and stop "the awful screaming of the lambs," as Lecter astutely notes.  She is the element through which we see the portrayal of the victim.  She is a woman in a male- dominated setting, an obstacle that Will Graham never had to endure.  Clarice's eyes become ours and through her we better understand the elements of society that enables someone like Buffalo Bill to take form.  Clarice is the set of eyes through which we are able to view the limitations of both external society and the social setting of the FBI, where a woman like Starling faces issues that men do not have to face.  It is also through Clarice's eyes that we see the villain of sexual objectification as something that has to be stopped.  Clarice is not the outside and dispassionate detective, but rather one who is moved by the terror that Buffalo Bill perpetrates, something that drives her and enables us to fully grasp the implications of why she does what she does.  In this, the villain becomes quite clear for us to see.


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