I’ve talked before about religious themes and undercurrents in Hannibal, so I’m returning for a second helping *food double entendre*. What I want to talk about today is the aspects of mysticism present in the show. Now, colloquially speaking, “mysticism” can be taken to mean almost anything that is vaguely spiritual—Tina the Tarot card reader down the highway may say she is a practitioner of mysticism; any New Age guru with their own faux-Indian merchandise and platitudes can claim they’re a mystic. However, in modern academic discourse, those paths and traditions termed “mysticism” have a meaning tied to transformative experiences related to a transcending of the self, typically with an end goal of a special kind of union with divinity. Examples range from the Christian ecstatics like St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross, to the practitioners of bhakti traditions in Hinduism like Ramakrishna, to the Sufi mystics of Islam, such as Mansur Al-Hallaj. Since the focus here is union with the divine object of devotion, for clarity’s sake, let’s call this strain of thought “unitive mysticism”. I believe we see examples of this particular religious/spiritual impulse in the show Hannibal, particularly in the cases of Will Graham and Francis Dolarhyde. Will and Francis are drawn to lose themselves in the identities of their objects of devotion, Hannibal and the Red Dragon personality, respectively. Join me after the jump to delve deeper.
Spoilers for the whole series after the jump.