Silence of the Lambs

Silence of the Lambs

Oct 03, 2021

This week I had the opportunity to study a story called Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. I have read this book a few times over the years and seen the movie dozens of times. This story is in my top 5 favorites of all time right next to Jaws.

The story is about a young woman named Clarice Starling who is attending the FBI academy to become an agent. She aspires to eventually work for her idol; an agent named Jack Crawford.

The main plot of the story is that there is a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. He is on the loose abducting young women and then removing their skin and killing them before discarding their bodies. His most recent abduction is the daughter of a prominent politician.

Starling is tasked with engaging an incarcerated serial killer named Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal the Cannibal) for help on profiling Buffalo Bill. As she engages with Hannibal Lecter, she must trade personal information about herself to Hannibal Lecter and in return, he will help her with Buffalo Bill.

I love this story for so many reasons. It is very engaging and always draws me in each time I read it. The story is a thrill ride that delivers.

I have studied the story using multiple guides. Story Grid does a great job of breaking this story scenes down into the essential blocks that are fundamental for storytelling. You can learn more here: Story Grid Silence of the Lambs analysis.

Another great analysis for looking at this story is in the Save the Cat storytelling methodology. Here the story is broken down into the 9 beats for storytelling. You can learn more here: Save the Cat Silence of the Lambs analysis.

Regardless of how you analyze this story, one thing is for sure. This story rocks. The characters are well thought out. Clarice Starling is a strong female character that is flawed and trying to redeem herself in her father’s memory. This makes for a great character arc throughout the story.

My favorite character in this story is Hannibal Lecter. He is freaky and creepy, and I love it. The fact that he is a psychiatrist makes for an even more disturbing character. He is supposed to be helping patients and instead, he kills them and eats them. He does not just eat them, he “fine dines” on them using his culinary artistry with exotic recipes and fine wines.