MBTI: Clarice and Hannibal- INTJ
It’s pretty rare to get more than one INTJ in the same room, in real life or fiction. The so-called “1%” is normally the type pulling the strings behind the scenes and is foiled by the film’s end. Here, we get an INTJ as the protagonist and supporting role.
But like any well-written INTJ, Hannibal’s supporting role is pretty much what ultimately carries the film series. For an introvert, the guy sure is a glory hog.
Reserved, sophisticated, and weird, Lecter is known for not only his love of culture and human flesh but for the bizarre he minds games he plays with just about anybody he talks to. If you know any INTJs, they probably don’t live up to the genius that Lecter is meant to embody but they’ll definitely enjoy feeling on top of whatever situation they’re in.
The Rational sense of humor will often create friction between whatever company they keep. Some won’t be as aware of how their behavior comes off and INTJs can be an exception to this, though many times they’ll know exactly what they’re doing. Hannibal certainly knows, but he’s locked in a cell for extended periods of time, it’s not a mystery why he would feel the need to gain some sort of control over the people he comes into contact with.
The highest ranking heroine on AFI’s 100 Heroes & Villains List coming in at number six (Hannibal is number one on the Villains’ side), Clarice Starling is an agent still with the academy when we first meet her. But even with her naivete shining through to the ever-perceptive Hannibal, it just as easily stands to reason that he sees some of himself in her. Much like she sees herself in him.
She describes Lecter as such in Lambs- “small, sleek, and in his hands and arms she saw wiry strength like her own”.
This isn’t the only instance of how the two are alike, just because one compares themselves to the other. You could strongly relate to any type no matter their circumstances; but Lecter and Starling match each other nearly line for line. While Lecter seems to hold all the cards because of his dominating personality, Starling is new to it all but always has an ace up her sleeve to interest Lecter as well.
And Lecter makes it clear that he’s not just going to talk to any doctor that promises him opera records and food- he really likes Clarice. Dr. Chilton is shown to be a jerkish glory hound and comes off as less likable than Hannibal the cannibal, prompting Lecter to take special interest in Clarice, something he probably would have done anyway.
When the two first meet in the film adaption of Lambs, Lecter definitely does what he can to shake Starling and it works to a point, her being a trainee and all. But ultimately, her return and general attitude toward him should tell you that she isn’t entirely turned off by his behavior. She knows he could be a valuable asset and is willing to play his games to an extent to get what she needs.
INTJs will speak with a combination of directness and that is their game, in this story and in reality: Who can get to the others’ core the quickest? Who’s blows can do the most damage and find out what the other is made of first? To some this will sound like a positive thing- you find out what a person is really like when you get to the stuff underneath and you know whether or not you can keep toying with them.
But to many, this just makes INTJ a small group of elitist bullies. They won’t see it that way and that’s why they keep doing it. Why would continue doing something if you “knew” it was wrong? INTJs will see the prodding more as a test rather than bullying.
So while Hannibal attempts to break Clarice, she usually avoids his insults by either turning things back on him or by changing the subject entirely. She’ll play his mind games if she may be able to get what she wants and sees no other way around it, but normally does not consent to his antagonizing.
All in all, it’s what makes their relationship so interesting. One has the power physically; Clarice is able to go where she wants and help Hannibal gain special privileges. Yet Hannibal, a prisoner, holds all the information and invaluable insight as to what Clarice should do next. A conversation between two INTJs will be something similar, with an odd straightforwardness that some might envy while others would find without fun.
The level of creepiness though, might be a matter of perspective.