In The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal Lecter had drawn a picture of Clarice in prison.

The picture is seen here:

pic-1 pic-2

Drawing a picture of her indicates that he was thinking more about her.

Again, he was trying to touch her hand while giving one file to her. The following picture indicates this:


Was it true that Dr. Hannibal Lecter liked her or was attracted to her?

It has been shown in the movie that Dr. Lecter was taking care of her. The following incidences indicate this:

  1. Lecter had given her a towel to dry her hair.

  2. He had asked after the wound on her leg.

  3. In the end, Lecter asked Clarice whether or not her nightmares had stopped.

From her life story, Dr. Hannibal Lecter learned that Clarice has been a very sensitive and kind person since her childhood. She is innocent (a dialogue with Lecter indicates this). She is not rude like others he used to see around. Was Lecter attracted towards her due to her nature?


1 Answer 1


Yes, Hannibal Lecter sees a lot of things in Clarice:

  1. Someone who is smart, but not rude. (Rudeness is Hannibal's biggest pet peeve).
  2. Someone who has suffered in a way that he has suffered (childhood trauma, losing family),
  3. And eventually, someone who may be able to house his dead little sister's conscience.
  4. And someone to love, who can also heal his childhood trauma.

In Silence of the Lambs (book and film), it isn't perfectly clear what it is exactly that draws Hannibal to Clarice and even if he is particularly drawn to her or just screwing with her head. But the religious depictions and time dedicated to her become much clearer in the next two novels Hannibal (which takes place seven years after SOTL) and Hannibal Rising (a prequel origin and revenge story set during Lecter's childhood and late teenage years).

The Books (original source material):

In these novels, it becomes clearer that Lecter and Clarice both suffered some traumatic childhood experiences that involved losing someone they loved. For Clarice, it's her father. For Hannibal, it's his little sister.

The Hannibal novel, however, has a lot going on that isn't really explained. Hannibal somehow comes to believe in necromancy; that Clarice is a perfect vessel for his little sister's (Mischa's) consciousness.

And so I came to believe, " Dr. Lecter was saying, "that there had to be a place in the world for Mischa, a prime place vacated for her, and I came to think, Clarice, that the best place in the world was yours." -Hannibal pg 535

Lecter goes through great pains to try and psychologically drive Clarice to bend her to his will, but ultimately comes to realize he has no control over what he created and Clarice declares that the best space for Mischa would be his own.

"It occurred to Dr. Lecter in that moment that with all of his knowledge and intrusion, he could never entirely predict her, or own her at all. He could feed the caterpillar, he could whisper through the chrysalis; what hatched out followed its own nature and was beyond him." - Hannibal (about Clarice) Pg523

Normally, one might assume that Hannibal wouldn't accept this, but oddly Hannibal does (because he's in love), and the two go off to Buenos Aires together. From Clarice's perspective, despite the manipulation, there may be subtext from Thomas Harris about Clarice transforming into a woman, as there are some erotic lines about nurturing Lecter from her breasts.

In the film version, Lecter also puts Clarice in a rather expensive designer dress, as he helps Clarice with her misogynistic nemesis at the FBI, Paul Krendler. These details are important, as Clarice is thought of as homely and without taste (and taste is something Hannibal cares about greatly), which could play back to how Lecter remembers his toddler sister, being sort of imperfect and messy.
At any rate, the final lines of the Hannibal novel are very suggestive that Clarice is where she wants to be and Lecter is now beginning to heal from his past, because of this romantic relationship...

"Occasionally, on purpose, Dr. Lecter drops a teacup to shatter on the floor. He is satisfied when it does not gather itself together. For many months now, he has not seen Mischa in his dreams.

Someday perhaps the cup will come together. Or somewhere Starling may hear a crossbow string and come to some unwilled awakening, if she indeed even sleeps. We'll withdraw now, while they're dancing on the terrace--..." -Hannibal pg 544

Hannibal Film Adaptation/Novel Comparison:

However, the film version of Hannibal takes things in a slightly different direction, as all knowledge of Mischa is omitted from the film and Clarice Starling is not psychologically manipulated into the person she becomes at the end of the novel. In fact the film's ending is dramtically different for this reason.

Hannibal film - Hannibal Saving Clarice

But as Directer Ridley Scott has stated, the film (like novel) features themes of romance, punishment, and retribution and where a conversation Lecter as with Allegra, is a reference to how Hannibal feels about Clarice Starling

Scott openly admits to a "romantic thematic" running through the film. He told CNN that: "Hannibal was quite a different target, essentially a study between two individuals. Funny enough, it's rather romantic and also quite humorous, but also there's some quite bad behaviour as well." During the opera scene in Florence, Lecter attends an operatic adaptation of one of Dante's sonnets, and meets with Detective Pazzi and his wife, Allegra. She asks Lecter, "Do you believe a man could become so obsessed by a woman after a single encounter?" Lecter replies: "Yes, I believe he could ... but would she see through the bars of his plight and ache for him?" This scene, in the film, is one which Scott claims most people "missed" the meaning of. It was in reference to Starling—to their encounter in The Silence of the Lambs.[19] The New York Times, in its review of the film, said Hannibal, "toys" with the idea of "love that dare not speak its name"

In addition both versions feature a scene of Mason Verger setting a trap for Hannibal by capturing Clarice, as Verger figures out from listening to Hannibal Lecter's recorded tapes from his time in the insititution, that he does seem to care greatly for Starling. So he has Starling kidnapped to use as bate! (See Picture Above)

But even outside of what both the film and book kept the same, the film still retains a great deal of subtext back to the novel, including that in the film adaptation's final acts, Hannibal still demonstrates his love for Clarice. (And maybe even more so than the book's)

"Tell me Clarice, would you ever say me, Stop. If you love me, you'd stop."

Hannibal leans into kiss Clarice, but she handcuffs him, as the FBI are on there way to their location. Hannibal finds a butchers knife and tells Clarice, "This is REALLY going to hurt." Hannibal cuts off his own hand and escapes!

As for Clarice's potential affection for Hannibal Lecter, the film remains somewhat ambiguous about it. She never does anything blatant to show she cares, and she even denies having feelings (although you can read that in more than one way), but generally she keeps to a very moral center of what she believes her duty is, which goes back to novels' passages about her father, a police officer that was killed on duty.

The final scene of the film also shows Hannibal feeding some leftover remnant's of Paul Krendler's brains to young boy. As disturbing as the scene is, it calls back Hannibal's feelings towards the innocent and his own childhood.

  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 13:48
  • 2
    I would downvote this 'answer' more than once if I could. Silence of the lambs is from 1991, it's based on Thomas Harris's 1988 book. Picking quotes from 1999 and 2006 books as arguments make up 90% of this post. That is a blatant logical fallacy.
    – user20086
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 11:10
  • 3
    It's the only way to answer the question, because even if there are three versions of canon, the source material is most reliable in explaining scenes within SOTL's adaptation, as the story of Hannibal Lecter (and Clarice Starling) is ongoing in both the order of books and films. I also only picked quotes from Hannibal. Hannibal Rising only "shows" the connection and gives us an explanation for what happened to Mischa (and Hannibal) as introduced in Hannibal novel, from Hannibal to Clarice. Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 13:05
  • 2
    @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Who could forgive that? It's an underrated classic! ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 18:04
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson - Actually one of my favorite flicks ... definitely in the top 10 of my list. Showed me who bow legged William Petersen was well before CSI! :And seeing Stephen Lang go up in flames ... classic! Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 20:24

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