October 21, 2010
The mythological trickster; to some he is a deviant bent on bringing about chaos and evil, to others he is a helpful aid to society, poorly misunderstood. Trickster comes in many forms and can serve many purposes. It is said that trickster has some common traits yet it is also said in “Mapping mythic tricksters” (Hynes, 1993) that trickster is indefinable. Still we can use certain trait definitions to show observation of trickster at his best and perhaps his worst as well. It is pointed out by Hynes (1993), that there are six characteristics most commonly associated with trickster, trickster can be ambiguous and anomalous, a deceiver and trick player, a shape shifter, a situation inverter, a messenger and imitator of the gods, and sacred and lewd bricoleur. Any trickster that we look at will fit many if not all of these characteristics. Hannibal Lecter, a vicious killer and cannibal from the movie Silence of the lambs is a modern day trickster. At first glance Lecter appears to be nothing more than a psychotic freak with a taste for human flesh but upon closer inspection one can see that he is far more.
At first glance Lecter seems to be a well educated man with good manners and well developed taste. However, one must look behind the façade and remember that Lecter is a brutal killer who in his own mind has done nothing wrong. It is necessary to know a bit about Lecter’s history in order to properly see how he fits into the trickster stereotype rather than just that of a monstrous psychopath. Lecter was born in Lithuania on January 20, 1933 to parents of nobility. At about the age of 10 his family moved to their cabin in the woods in an attempt to stay safe from the war efforts that were going on but his mother and father both ended up dead leaving Hannibal and his little sister Mischa to fend for themselves. Eventually some men came to the cabin and took shelter there but rather than help Hannibal...
References: Demme, J. (Director). (1991). The silence of the lambs. [Digital Versatile Disc]. Los Angeles, California: Orion Pictures.
Hynes, William J. “Mapping the Characteristics of Mythic Tricketers: A Heuristic Guide.” Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms. Eds. William J. Hynes and William G. Doty. Tuscaloosa, AL: U of Alabama P, 1993. 33-45.
Ratner, B. (Director). (2002). Red Dragon. [Digital Versatile Disc]. Century City, Los Angeles, California: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Ridley, S. (Director). (2001). Hannibal. [Digital Versatile Disc]. Century City, Los Angeles, California: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Thury, E. M., & Devinney, M. K. (2009). Introduction to mythology. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
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