Criminal Madness Analysis

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From Euripides to Hitchcock, criminal madness has been a cause of concern and played a central role in shaping up of some of the iconic texts, not only because of its interesting plot device but also because of the fundamental social and psychological issues it upholds. These issues, as Rusell D. Covey in his essay ‘Criminal Madness: Cultural Iconography and Insanity’states are central to the “conceptions of justice, proper social organization and self-help.” He also goes on to state how it has always been a problem for the law because it is criminal madness that makes one wonder what could possibly be done to the offenders whose mental, intellectual or psychological faculties hinder them from abiding by the laws. While discussing criminal…show more content…
Notwithstanding the sincerity with which these characters have been portrayed by the film makers or authors, one hardly traces the physical and psychological transformations they go through before being capable of doing evil deeds. This criminal madness was brilliantly depicted by the portrayals of characters such as Mr. Edward Hyde, Francis Dolarhyde, JameGumb, Dr. Hannibal Lecter and many more and were extremely successful because it claimed a virtual monopoly on the audience/reader’s attention. Casare Lombroso, the father of the theory of “born criminal”, served as a prison physician and based his theory on his extensive study of thousands of Italian prisoners. Lombroso’s theory of the inter-relationship between crime and madness is well-illustrated by Mr. Edward…show more content…
Henry Jekyll underwent a physical and mental metamorphosis when he swallowed the potion he had concocted in his laboratory, thereby affirming the Lombrosian notion that criminality is not merely a state of mind but is also manifest in the physical body. The physical changes that occur in Dr. Jekyll clearly gets infused with racial overtones which bring to light the colonizer-colonized aspect of the novel. Dr. Jekyll in his confession letter to his lawyer and friend Mr. Utterson, states that he was aware of the fact that these changes projected his repressed desire which is why the “ugly idol” of Mr. Hyde’s reflection generated a “leap of welcome” in him. It is this awareness that hastens his doom as he is incapable of balancing between his radically different selves. It is in this light that I would like to mention the characters from Hannibal Series-JameGumb (also nicknamed ‘Buffalo Bill’) from The Silence of the Lambs and Francis Dolarhyde or Mr. D (nicknamed, ‘Tooth Fairy’) from Red Dragon. In Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the psychiatrist and the cannibalistic psychic serial killer merge sophisticatedly. However, in the context of the above mentioned films, we turn to look at the antagonists- JameGumb and Francis Dolarhyde, respectively. Though both are psychopathic killers, Jame is quite different from Hannibal. Jame’s personal history and behaviour correspond well to Griffin’s description of the pornographic mind created by a culture which fears and denies the body. Gumb’s
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