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The Whitechapel murders

Page history last edited by Bill Snyder 9 years, 1 month ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Payn, James. "Our Note Book." Illustrated London News 1888. 1995. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.iln.org.uk/iln_years/year/images/whitechapel%20ripper%20ILN%20reports.jpg>.

 

With the Vigilance Committee in the East-End: A Suspicious Character. Photograph.  Illustrated London News 1888. 1995. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.iln.org.uk/iln_years/year/images/1888/iln1888rip10.JPG>.

 

"Illustrated Police News." THE BRITISH LIBRARY - The World's Knowledge. The British Library Board. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.bl.uk/learning/images/21cc/crime/large7577.html>.

 

 

 Jack the Ripper. Engraving.1888. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/113997/Latest-Incidents-in-Connection-with-the-Doings-of-Jack-the>.

 

A closer examination of this letter may be found on the Encyclopedia Britannica website:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/298729/Jack-the-Ripper

 

 

Commentary on the Text

          

          While The Moonstone (1868), by Wilkie Collins, was written 20 years before the Whitechapel murders (1888) occurred, it is interesting to look at Collins' fictional account of murder in relation to the response in news articles regarding the very real Whitechapel murders. The Whitechapel murders, often referred to by the self-titled and still unidentified assailant "Jack-the-Ripper", created terror and dread throughout the East-End of London as one of the first documented cases of a serial killer in modern times. The uproar and desire of the public not only identify Jack-the-Ripper, but to also bring him to justice, was overwhelming, and yet the news articles featured in the Illustrated London Times use the Whitechapel murders as mere references without focus on the actual crimes, while the illustrations from both the Illustrated London Times and the Illustrated Police News seem to do quite the opposite, conveying the fear and panic of East-Londoners in the autumn of 1888.

 

         I find this especially interesting as the murders in The Moonstone do not seem to be as shocking or even as notable as one would expect. Several murders take place without any real issue to the characters in the story with more concern placed on finding the lost gem than rectifying other crimes committed. Read side-by-side with the above articles, the fiction almost becomes more realistic when one realizes how murders were viewed during the Victorian era, and the higher occurrence of documented unsolved, and much less publicized, murders than was commonly held.

 

 

Works Cited

 

Collins, Wilkie, and John Sutherland. The Moonstone. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

 

"Illustrated Police News." THE BRITISH LIBRARY - The World's Knowledge. The British Library Board. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.bl.uk/learning/images/21cc/crime/large7577.html>.

 

Jack the Ripper. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/113997/Latest-Incidents-in-Connection-with-the-Doings-of-Jack-the>.

 

Jack the Ripper: letter allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/298729/Jack-the-Ripper>

 

Payn, James. "Our Note Book." Illustrated London News 1888. 1995. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.iln.org.uk/iln_years/year/images/whitechapel%20ripper%20ILN%20reports.jpg>.

 

With the Vigilance Committee in the East-End: A Suspicious Character. Photograph. Illustrated London News 1888. 1995. Web. 21 Oct. 2011. <http://www.iln.org.uk/iln_years/year/images/1888/iln1888rip10.JPG>.

 


Project Completed: Fall, 2011

Bill Snyder      

LITR 565

Eastern Michigan University

Comments (1)

Nicholas Vanderpool said

at 2:20 pm on Oct 29, 2011

I'm very curious about how the more contemporary renditions of the "Jack the Ripper" murders interpret the murderer as being part of a larger scheme/conspiracy, not acting alone or murdering within a "vacuum;" the idea that society at large might be responsible for producing the murderer and the circumstances that led to a number of women's deaths. It's interesting to me that the central conflict in "The Moonstone" is the thieving of the moonstone by multiple different parties, that no one individual is responsible for the theft and, when you take into account the fact that it has been stolen in the past and was stolen again (as a consequence of imperialist Britain), it's impossible to ever deduce that a single person is responsible for the crime.

I do agree that there seems to be a fantasy being lived out, potentially by Collins himself, but definitely by Betteredge, about solving these unsolvable crimes by obtaining the multiple perspectives necessary to ascertain anything remotely close to "the truth." The idea that back then the technology did not exist to test blood samples or use science to truly resolve these concerns means that if "Jack" had been caught, there probably would have still been many who doubted that they actually caught the killer: especially because the narrative is far more interesting than the truth, and unsolved it draws in readers; solved, it simply vanishes. And obviously, we still find the narrative quite interesting today, enough to re-imagine "the truth" of what might have happened. I think Collins was tapping into the collective interest about these crimes that captivate us, as seen in Franklin and Betteredge, for example. Also, consider how Franklin must have some idea of what happened after the fact, yet is still having people write down their stories. Are we as readers to assume the crime has yet to be resolved, or are these people (Franklin especially) just captivated still?

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