Fulfillment of a Corruption Arc by Will Graham in Hannibal (NBC) 

By Alice Dong


“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” - Frederich Nietzche 

Oftentimes in media, a protagonist acts with a heart of gold, speaks with words of a transparent truth, and unrealistically disregards the yearn to tighten their grip around the notion of power.  However, if the protagonist yields to the temptations of promised power, they fall into a corruption arc. Such an arc is depicted by Will Graham, from Hannibal (NBC). A corruption arc is a narrative arc or storyline where a character begins with a finely tuned moral compass, but gradually undergoes a transformation of moral decay. 

Act I: Protagonist Understands “The Truth”

In Act I, the protagonist lives in the “Normal World”, or the initial setting of the story before “The Lie” is presented. The “Normal World” serves as the framework for the plot to move forward. This “Normal World” will present the thematic truth to the protagonist. In Hannibal (NBC), Will Graham lives in the “Normal World” of his profession as a profiler and professor, and is introduced to the less-than-nuanced thematic truth. The presented thematic truth is that killing someone does not make the person necessarily evil or rampant for another opportunity at it. Will Graham kills Garret Jacob Hobbs in order to save Abigail Hobbs. Will Graham, living in the “Normal World”, accepts this thematic truth, albeit hesitantly. 

Act II: Protagonist is Introduced to the First Temptation of a Lie

In Act II, the protagonist is first tempted by “The Lie”. “The Lie” is in direct opposition to the thematic truth, which was first presented to Will Graham in the “Normal World”. This lie is first introduced directly after Will Graham kills Garret Jacob Hobbs. “The Lie” is first presented by Hannibal Lecter, who tries to subtly hint that “The Lie” may serve a better purpose than “The Truth”. He minimally unsheathes the idea that killing and death can be beautiful through dialogue. “Killing must feel good to God too, he does it all the time. And are we not created in his image? God's terrific. He dropped a church roof on 34 of his worshipers last Wednesday night in Texas, while they sang a hymn,” Lecter said in an episode of Hannibal (NBC). This lie is initially rejected by Will Graham, as he continues to embrace the thematic truth. It is merely temptation. However, the sliver of thought, since being introduced, has not fully shoveled itself into a grave. This is exemplified by Will Graham’s continual own thoughts of waning in self control. 

Act III: Protagonist is Torn Between “The Truth” and “The Lie”

In Act III, the protagonist does not know whether to reject the pre-established truth and embrace “The Lie” or vice versa. The temptress of a lie has grown since being planted in Will Graham’s head, as he is manipulated by Hannibal Lecter to embrace “The Lie” instead. Due to his encephalitis and external duties (profession and fatherhood), he was extremely susceptible to manipulation. This compromised his view of the thematic truth and led Will Graham to reel the idea of “The Lie” back. After being made the scapegoat for Hannibal Lecter’s many murders, Will Graham is successfully framed and incarcerated, being kept in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. It is only then, that Will Graham’s defined needle in his moral compass starts pointing elsewhere. He treads the gray area of “The Truth” and “The Lie” as he devises a way to kill Hannibal Lecter. His corruption slowly escalates with the presentation of “The Lie” and his morals slowly decline. “I was rooting for you, Will. It's a shame. You came all this way and didn't get to kill anybody,” Lecter said in an episode of Hannibal (NBC). 

Act IV: Protagonist Embraces “The Lie” Without Fully Rejecting “The Truth”

In Act IV, Will Graham has executed his plan to kill Hannibal Lecter. This is the first sign that he has started to embrace “The Lie”. However, the idea of “The Truth”, set up initially by the “Normal World”, is still present, though without as much autonomy in face of “The Lie”, as seen in Act I. Will Graham sends someone else to kill Hannibal Lecter, but continues seeing Abigail Hobbs in his dreams, showing that “The Truth” has not been fully rejected. However, Will Graham has already started embracing “The Lie”, as the feeling of power accompanies his attempt to kill Hannibal Lecter. Amidst this act, Will Graham is also exonerated, which allows him to pursue the vision of beauty in brutality, planted by “The Lie”. In response to this, he kills Randall Tier and sculpts his body into a tableau. Moreover, in this act, the protagonist is rewarded for acting on “The Lie”. For Will Graham, reward comes in the form of morale for rejecting morals. He learns of identity and power. “It's the inevitability of there being a man so bad that killing him felt good,” Lecter said in Hannibal (NBC). 

Act V: Protagonist Resists Sacrifices Demanded by “The Truth”

Upon killing Randall Tier, Will Graham realizes the consequences that come from following “The Lie”. In Act V, the idea of “The Truth” is as negligible as “The Lie” was when it served as a temptation. This is given away by the show’s visuals and symbolic allegories of metamorphosis. The duties presented in Act I and II have been abandoned by Will Graham, as he is now aware and embraces “The Lie” rather than “The Truth”. “The Truth” demands that sacrifices be made in the pursuit of “The Lie”, but Will Graham refuses this. In the finale of Season 2, Will Graham succumbs to the sacrifice of his surrogate daughter, Abigail Hobbs, as Hannibal Lecter kills her for his betrayal. However, “The Lie” is still prominent, as this sacrifice is not enough for Will Graham to immediately reject “The Lie”. “I told him to leave because I wanted him to run. [Why?] Because...because he was my friend. And because I wanted to run away with him,” Graham said in Hannibal (NBC). 

Act VI: Protagonist Fully Embraces “The Lie”

In Act VI, Will Graham has fully embraced “The Lie” with no regards to “The Truth”. His moral compass points south, or also known as morale. Will Graham rejects the thematic truth and forgives Hannibal Lecter for killing Abigail Hobbs. He also identifies that his appetite for killing has grown exponentially since getting a taste of it by killing Garret Jacob Hobbs. In this arc, Will Graham learns of the art found in the macabre, or killing and death in essence. He no longer has doubts of “The Lie”, as he is also a man with nothing to lose since the sacrifice of Abigail Hobbs demanded by “The Truth”. In this act, Will Graham attempts to kill Hannibal Lecter again. He reunites with Hannibal Lecter in Florence, Italy, with the transparency of his intentions becoming clear to the audience when he draws his knife to kill Hannibal Lecter. Will Graham has embraced “The Lie” enough to search for Hannibal and to kill him. Will Graham therefore accepts “The Lie”, building up to the finale. “You dropped your forgiveness, Will. You forgive how God forgives,” Lecter said in Hannibal (NBC). 

Act VII: Moral Failure

In an attempt to gain what was so strongly desired, Will Graham uses “The Lie” to kill the main antagonist of Season 3, Francis Dolarhyde, alongside Hannibal Lecter. The two of them kill Dolarhyde, leading Will Graham to the penultimate act: moral failure, or the fulfillment of the corruption arc. In Act VII, Will Graham truly sees “The Lie” that has transcended into something bigger than “The Truth”, which he had abandoned by Act IV-Act V. The scene of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham killing Dolarhyde is beautiful, as through Will Graham’s eyes, the hunt with a pack is beautiful; it is no longer subliminal, but fruitive. “[To Hannibal] You and I have begun to blur,” Graham said in Hannibal (NBC).

Act VIII: Aftermath

In the final act, the protagonist encounters the consequences of his actions in embracing “The Lie” and acting on the finish of their moral corruption. In this act, Will Graham, having accepted “The Lie” is conscious of his actions. The last part of the series finale depicts Will Graham throwing himself off a cliff with Hannibal Lecter. This is his attempt at a salvation, as he knows the extent that “The Lie” has vined and the extent that he has climbed the ivy. Will Graham knows that he cannot isolate himself from “The Lie”, and attempts to kill himself and Hannibal Lecter. However, the end credits reveal that they survive. The aftermath presents itself in a nebulous phase, as the story is still incomplete, though it is enough to have rendered Will Graham’s corruption arc complete. “It’s beautiful,” Graham said, in Hannibal (NBC). 

The Shining : Book and Movie Comparison 

By Tremaine Fuller

Editor’s Note: Views expressed in this article are

solely the author's opinions and beliefs.

Many are familiar with the iconic scene: a distraught woman hiding in a bathroom while a  mallet smashes into the bathroom door, knocking out a huge chunk of the thin paneling. Half of a man with a crazed face stares at her. His mouth, cheeks and throat are lathered in blood, the single eye she sees is tiny, piggish and glittering. "Nowhere left to run, you." This is an excerpt from one of, if not the most iconic Stephen King novel, The Shining. Though the line may sound familiar, something seems a little off. 

Contrastingly, in the popular movie adaptation by the well renowned director Stanley Kubrick, an axe bashes through the bathroom door instead of a mallet, and the face peeking through the hole yells “Here's Johnny!” Many would be surprised to hear that the line was improvised by Jack Nicholson, and was a reference to the introduction of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. This scene is one of the many differences between The Shining book and The Shining movie.

Both the movie and the novel are great in their own way, setting the stage for future pieces of entertainment whether it be by references or directing choices. Despite the movie adaptation’s success, author Stephen King, who also wrote It and Carrie, was not pleased with director Stanley Kubrick's adaptation.  In “Stephen King Was Right About 1 Of The Shining's Most Controversial Critiques” by Gina Wurtz from ScreenRant, it’s noted that “King wasn't pleased when Kubrick created the movie adaptation, in part because it erased a good chunk of his story's message to create what King appears to have perceived as an abstract, empty film that prioritized eerie images over a thorough plot…”. 

While audiences and critics alike agree with King on this topic, many enjoy the movie in terms of storytelling, and believe it should be seen as a standalone film despite it being an adaptation. One of the leading arguments for King on this topic is that the movie made Jack a bad guy, whereas in the book he was imperfect but ultimately a victim of the hotel and his own demons—such as the hardships of addiction and a family fighting to stay together. In the end he was the hero and saved his family. Proponents of Kubrick's adaptation argue that the movie works because Kubrick is a genius, and that Stephen King simply could not see that. One may claim that the book is a very good, pulpy horror novel, but Kubrick's film is a work of art, and the translation from one to the other was never going to please the original writer.

At the end of the day, both the book and the movie are amazing in their own right, having their own dedicated fanbases. In my personal opinion, even though I enjoyed the book more than the movie, I still believe that the movie is a well-directed film that should be viewed as separate from the book. Comparing the two only diminishes the other.  One thing I found interesting is that many who read the book first tend to enjoy the movie less, and many who watch the movie first seem to enjoy it more than the book. 

I think those who enjoy books should read the novel version, and those who enjoy films should watch the movie first while giving the other a try later on with a fresh mind. I really enjoyed both forms.