Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jack the Ripper

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Essay 1 - Jack The Ripper and the murders - why did they attract so much attention?

Whitechapel is an area in East London between Aldgate and Spitalfields in the west and Mile End in the east where in the late 1th century extremely poor people (mostly foreigners) lived. In 1888 it believed to have been the source of the activity of one of the first serial killers --- Jack The Ripper which murdered five prostitutes. There were other killings too (for example Martha Tabram and Marry Ann Connelly) but the police assumed it wasn’t Jack The Ripper who did them. The aim of this essay is to discuss why the Whitechapel murders of 1888 attracted so much attention. The main factors that made it so infamous were press coverage, the fact that the police were inexperienced, the way the public reacted to the murders and the mystery of who Jack the Ripper actually was.

There were several problems with the police forces. For example Thames River Police force was just two years old and even though Bow Street Runners was set up in 174 these two never collaborated. There was no attempt to cooperate between police forces because there was competition between them and this enabled killers to run from place to place and escape easily. Many police forces were set up in all parts of the country but no national agreement was made for their roles and responsibilities. Jack the Ripper could easily escape by simply living in a place and killing people in another place like Whitechapel. The police force in Whitechapel would not cooperate with the police force in Jack the Rippers’ area, unlike today when police forces help each other note any peculiar activity in zones near the murder area too. This also explained why Jack the Ripper was able to keep his identity anonymous. An important way to prove my statement is that Jack the Ripper would kill mostly in the weekends - he might have had a job in another area and actually be from another area. And being anonymous was a main reason why so much attention was attracted upon him. It created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion in Whitechapel. Nobody knew who he really was and people suspected everyone - even their neighbours.

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The people of Whitechapel couldn’t do normal things and have a normal life, they wondered who the next victim could be. Also as the East London Observer said “The two murders which have startled London ... are for the reason that the victims have been the poorest of the poor and no adequate motive in the shape of plunder can be traced”. This scared the public who gave the Ripper murders get so much attention. People just could not see why anyone would kill the women - it wasn’t even for money or valuables.

Many letters were sent to the newspapers. Most of them were believed to be false but two letters stood out from the others because some things stated in them came true. The first one was the “Dear boss,” letter which was printed on posters; another reason why Jack the Ripper’s murders got so much publicity. Because the killer was not caught the newspapers made sure everyone knew about it - so that someone might remember something and say who it could be. The plan half worked - the people got to know about him but he still was not caught.

The police had never dealt with a serial killer before. This was another reason why the Whitechapel murders were notorious. Jack the Ripper was killing many and mutilating the victims which was horrible and new for the police and people of Whitechapel. For example the last victim of Jack the Ripper’s was mutilated the worst with the “internal organs removed and her face hacked beyond recognition”. The Whitechapel residents and police were shocked. They had no idea how a serial killer acted so could not make accurate predictions of what will happen. Their weapon was to spread the news and hope someone would come foward with useful information and maybe “some accidental circumstance will lead to a trace which may be followed by a successful conclusion”.

Now police are much more experienced and have the right equipment - for example if thread from a cloth is found near the victim they can find a lot of information by using special equipment. In 1888 there was no such technology and the police relied on witnesses and the people of Whitechapel. By giving out as much information as possible they were trying to catch Jack the Ripper.

In my opinion the reason that attracted so much public interest over these murders and made them famous was that Jack the Ripper was never caught. Magazines and newspapers only made it get more attention to the murders. Even today people still speculate about the identity of Jack the Ripper because the mystery keeps the story alive in people’s minds long after the murder trail has gone cold.

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