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"Survival of the Fittest" in "Silence of the Lambs"

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"Survival of the Fittest" in "Silence of the Lambs" In "The Silence of the Lambs," animal imagery is used to compare the different characteristics of Clarice Starling and Buffalo Bill, portraying the proper way to survive in society according to Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest." Darwin's theory suggests that those who are able to adjust to their given environment survive better. It is easier to change oneself and behave according to society's expectations than to change the ways of society to fit the needs of an individual. Society is just too complex for it to change for one person and it would be impossible. The film suggest that not only is it important to adjust to the outer surroundings, but it is equally important to adjust within the inside as well. Clarice, who is able to overcome her tragic childhood, succeeds in her environment with the role that society gives her and Buffalo Bill, who tries to deceive who he really is, does not survive. Clarice and Buffalo Bill's character is symbolically displayed by animals. Clarice's last name, "Starling," can be related to a type of bird. Starlings are small, very commonly found birds. ...read more.


Clarice and Buffalo Bill have different perspectives in adjusting to society. Darwin, in his theory of "survival of the fittest," states that those who are able to adjust to their given environment have a greater chance of surviving. The film suggest that not only is it important to blend in with society on the outside, but it is essential to blend in within the inside as well. Clarice reflects back on her past and understands why she is viewed as "white trash." She recognizes that her West Virginian accent is considered unacceptable in the higher class and makes efforts to correct herself. Even the shy and insecure way of her walk in the beginning drastically changes to a very sophisticated and confident walk towards the end of the film. Through her childhood tragedies, Clarice realizes that society is not going to encourage her, but challenge and test her from moving up into higher status. She accepts the challenges as constructive criticism and uses them as motivation, which brings out her passion and determination to make something better of her life. In spite of her lower class background, Clarice is able to move up in class because she behaves according to the standards of society. ...read more.


After Buffalo Bill is shot, there is a ray of sunlight that shines through the window. With the light shining through, we observe the relief and freedom Clarice feels knowing that she solved the case. Clarice is able to put her bad memories behind her and "fly away" freely from her painful childhood. Society is not bound to change for the good of one individual. The film teaches us that we must compromise and sometimes give up certain things to survive in society. Clarice lets go of her past because she understands that it is preventing her from improving her life. She strengthens her confidence and rises above the expectation society has on her. If she held on to her past, she will not have been as successful or even successful at all in solving Buffalo Bills case. Buffalo Bill is careless and selfish. He wants to be accepted into society, yet he is not willing to compromise. Unlike Clarice, Buffalo Bill does not accept his faults he has within himself. His misinterpretation of changing the appearance being able to erase all the ugliness he has inside of him is deceitful. Clarice survives by facing and defeating her enemy - herself, which is something Buffalo Bill did not do. Sources: THE Silence of the Lambs, Dir. Jonathan Demme. Perf. Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster. Orion, 1991 Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "European Starling" Online: 11/03/02 http://birds.cornell.edu/BOW/EURSTA/ ...read more.

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