The Love Song of Ardelia Mapp: Or, Anthea Rereads Silence of the Lambs

Ardelia Mapp was in her usual position, propped up in bed with a book. She was listening to all-news radio. She turned it off when Clarice Starling trudged in. Looking into Starling’s drawn face, blessedly she didn’t ask anything except, “Want some tea?”

When she was studying, Mapp drank a beverage she brewed of mixed loose leaves her grandmother sent her, which she called “Smart People’s Tea.”

Of the two brightest people Starling knew, one was also the steadiest person she knew and the other was the most frightening. Starling hoped that gave her some balance in her acquaintance.

Let’s talk about Ardelia Mapp for a little while, because I’m in love with her and the way her relationship with Clarice is portrayed.

First the facts, because if you haven’t read Silence it’s entirely possible you don’t remember or don’t know who Mapp is, as she is sinfully underused in the movie.

Starling and Mapp examining research in the laundry room; Silence of the Lambs, 1991.

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But he seemed so nice: Hannibal, Little Red, and the stories we tell

I think sometimes I underestimate the value of stories. Don’t get me wrong: I am always going to be on the front lines saying that stories have an enormous effect on culture, on our values, on our psychology. It’s just that I think I, personally, have tended to discount the effect stories have had on me and my development. When I first started thinking about a post about stories, I was going to write about Cinderella and Snow White and Savitri and the anxiety-inducing myth of perfection. And that’s a post I’ll probably write one day!

The story on my mind right now, though, is Little Red Riding Hood.

As many of my friends have been forced to hear over the last couple months, I am an enormous fan of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter books and movies. All two of them. Boy, isn’t it a shame he didn’t write more about what Lecter got up to after escaping? I’m sure it wouldn’t have gone off the rails into creepy Freudian shenanigans and death by Moray eel at all. But I think we’re all glad he didn’t write some kind of phoned-in prequel giving Lecter a bizarre excuse for being a monster, just because Dino de Laurentiis wanted to milk the franchise for every penny it was worth.

Even if he had, we’d still have the exquisite Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, and any insanity that crept into the franchise later in its life couldn’t change the fact that those are excellent books and Silence is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I just love Will Graham and Clarice Starling, okay? Especially Clarice. Talk about an awesome role model for a young woman.

Diminutive ladies kicking ass and taking names: Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) doesn't care that she's shorter than you.

Diminutive ladies kicking ass and taking names: Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) doesn’t care that she’s shorter than you.

(Beyond this Read More I’m going to be talking about content from and spoilers for NBC’s Hannibal, including the season finale, so consider yourself warned.)

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