Francis Dolarhyde


Francis Dolarhyde

Francis Dolarhyde is a fictional character featured in Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon".

Character overview

Dolarhyde is a serial killer nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy" due to his tendency to bite his victims' bodies, the uncommon size and sharpness of his teeth and other apparent oral fixations. He refers to his other self as "The Great Red Dragon" after William Blake's painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun".

Character history

Born in Springfield, Missouri with a bilateral complete cleft lip and palate, Francis Dolarhyde is abandoned by his mother and cared for in an orphanage until the age of five. He is then taken in by his grandmother, who subjects him to severe emotional and physical abuse. After his grandmother becomes afflicted with dementia, Dolarhyde is turned over to the care of his estranged mother and her husband in St. Louis, Missouri; he is further abused by this family, and is sent back to the orphanage after being caught hanging his stepsister's cat. He begins torturing animals at a young age. After being caught breaking into a house at age 17, he enlisted in the Army. While on his tour in Japan and neighboring countries, he learns how to develop film as well as receiving cosmetic surgery for his cleft palate. He later gets a job with the Gateway Corp. as the production Chief in their largest division - home videos.

Dolarhyde begins his killing spree by murdering two families within a month after discovering "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" with both crimes being committed on or near a full moon; it is hinted in the book that he had killed before that, however. Dolarhyde is obsessed with the image and convinced that he is "Unique" and is Becoming the Dragon. He chooses his victims through the home movies he edits as a film processing technician. He believes that by killing people (or "transforming" them, as he calls it) he can fully become the Dragon. On a trip to Hong Kong, he has a large dragon tattooed across his back, and had two sets of false teeth; one of them normal for his usual life, the other distorted and razor sharp for his killings, based on a mold of his grandmother's snaggle-toothed grimace. There is also a sexual component to his crimes; he molests the corpse of one adult female victim, and he often masturbates to the films he himself makes while committing murder.

FBI profiler Will Graham is asked to return from early retirement to aid in his capture. Graham had previously captured Garrett Jacob Hobbs ("The Minnesota Shrike") and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic psychiatrist and serial killer, whom Dolarhyde idolizes. Graham visits Lecter in the Chesapeake Mental Institute, hoping that the doctor would be able to help identify the Dragon, or at least assist in creating a psychological profile. Following this meeting, Lecter "helps" by sending Dolarhyde Graham's address in code with the note, "Kill them all." Dolarhyde is foiled when his FBI supervisor Jack Crawford intercepts the message in time to warn Graham's family and the local sheriff.

Dolarhyde reads "The National Tattler", a tabloid which runs sensationalistic stories about serial killers, and he obsessively collects clippings about Lecter's arrest and trial, and about Graham, as well as his own murders. In an attempt to provoke Dolarhyde out of hiding, Graham gives an interview to "Tattler" reporter Freddy Lounds in which he insults the "Tooth Fairy" as an impotent homosexual, and that Lecter considers him a "bottom-feeder." This enrages Dolarhyde, who kidnaps Lounds, strips him naked and Superglues him to a wheelchair, forces him to recant his article on tape, bites his lips off, then returns to Chicago and sets him on fire and rolls him down an incline going into the "Tattler"'s parking garage. Lounds dies a few days later in the hospital.

Over the course of the novel, Dolarhyde develops a relationship with a blind woman named Reba McClane who works at Gateway. The relationship quells his murderous impulses at first, but her presence only infuriates the other part of Dolarhyde's psyche. Desperate now to retain control of himself and deny his violent urges, Dolarhyde flies to New York, where he devours the original Blake watercolor, believing it would destroy the Dragon.

The plan fails, however; if anything, Dolarhyde's ingestion of the painting only makes the Dragon angrier. Dolarhyde kills McClane's former lover after seeing them innocently together at the door to her house, and apparently had planned to kill her and himself by setting his house on fire with her in it. Dolarhyde relents at the last minute, however, saying he cannot bear to see her die, and apparently shoots himself in the face with a shotgun.

In a later conversation with McClane, Graham tells her, "There was plenty wrong with Dolarhyde, but there's nothing wrong with you. You said he was kind and thoughtful to you. I believe it. That's what you brought out in him. At the end, he couldn't kill you and he couldn't watch you die. People who study this kind of thing say he was trying to stop. Why? Because you helped him. That probably saved some lives. You didn't draw a freak. You drew a man with a freak on his back."

It turns out, however, that Dolarhyde is alive, having merely shot the corpse of a previous victim. Being blind, McClane was fooled when she felt the shattered head of the corpse. Dolarhyde later surprises Graham in Florida and stabs him in the face, but Graham's wife Molly catches Dolarhyde with the hooks of a fishing rod. Dolarhyde abandons the injured Graham and runs after Molly, fighting the dangling fishing pole dragging through the brush. Molly gets the .44 pistol that Graham insisted she learn to shoot, and shoots Dolarhyde as he crashes through the door into the house. Nevertheless, as revealed in "The Silence of the Lambs" Graham afterwards looks like "damn Picasso drew him" as a result of Dolarhyde's knife attack, and becomes an alcoholic. Prior to this, Lecter sends a 'sympathetic' letter to Graham saying, "I hope you are not too ugly."

Film adaptations

Dolarhyde has been twice portrayed in film adaptations of Harris' novel: By Tom Noonan (in which he was called 'Dollarhyde' instead of Dolarhyde) in 1986's "Manhunter", and by Ralph Fiennes in 2002's "Red Dragon". In deleted scenes in "Red Dragon", Dolarhyde's Great Red Dragon personality is voiced by Frank Langella.

In "Manhunter", Dolarhyde was filmed two different ways; shirtless with an elaborate tattoo covering his upper torso and back (as opposed to Dolarhyde's tattoos in the book, which only covered his back), and with a shirt on thus covering his tattoo. The latter was used in the finished film, partly because the tattoos were considered too distracting and similar to the ones that the Yakuza wore. The look, however, appeared on promotional photos for the film.

In the first movie, Graham kills Dolarhyde, while in the second, both he and his wife have a hand in Dolarhyde's death, with Graham firing the majority of the shots in a crossfire with Dolarhyde, and his wife finishing him off as Dolarhyde rises back up, even with the bullet wounds.


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