In Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling must use her identity as a woman to her advantage and her training as an FBI agent to prove herself in a career that is full of men. When Clarice is first shown, she is running fast in dense forest, sweating profusely, making her look at first view as a woman being pursued by a man chasing her. Already, Clarice looks like she might be doomed for death, even as it is revealed that she was only running an obstacle course.
Throughout the film, Clarice becomes a victim for stares and condensation, just because she is a woman. In an uncomfortable scene in an elevator, Clarice is shown to be surrounded by men a foot taller who could easily knock her down, however she shows little to no concern, as she doesn’t want to look any weaker. However, this ‘weakness’ makes her the perfect candidate to get information from Hannibal Lector, who doesn’t speak to men. Lector is fist shown showered with light, which Clarice must approach to speak to him.
The camera angle is above her, making her look even smaller and Lector even bigger as he is shown from above. Even though thick plastic protects Clarice from Lector, she still is not safe from his psychoanalytical mind, which inspects her insultingly. However Clarice doesn’t just let him do that and even challenges him to use his analysis to look at himself, proving herself as not just someone who wants to manipulate Lector, but a person who is trying to communicate with him.
Other men, however do not put her on the same level, This is shown when she tries to communicate with other police officers, who condescend her by brushing her off and not letting her the crime scene, which they consider too gruesome for a woman. Clarice’s female sex enables her to use her nurturing side, as she tried to do when saving the lamb at a younger age and again when she tries to save Catherine Martin from Buffalo Bill. Although Clarice goes through a tough time due to her sexuality, but is also enables her to see what men may overlook.
Clarice must also use the other side of her personality to catch Buffalo Bill, and that is her training as an FBI agent. Clarice lost her mom at a young age, and her father, a police officer, was killed by a robber. This provides Clarice ambition, as she is trying to follow in his footsteps through justice. Clarice is also trying to save the damsel in distress, by a serial killer. Clarice gets the information to catch Buffalo Bill from no one else, except for Lector, who gives Clarice questions to guide her information.
However, Clarisse deviates from her FBI training when she hunts down Buffalo Bill by herself, not waiting for the team to arrive, as she is intent to help Catherine. Wielding a gun, Clarice and the killer pursue each other in his house. Buffalo Bill plays with her in the dark, as he can see her with his night vision goggles just barely touching her. Despite this, Clarice shoots him and the glass pane in the basement, revealing the light outside.