Jack The Ripper Myths

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Contemporaries have linked the murders of nine women in East London between April 1888 and February 1891 to the now notorious "Jack the Ripper". This name first appeared in the press on 3 October 1888, after the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. At this point, most news reports of the ‘Whitechapel murder’ assumed that the murder of at least six women were down to one lone killer. Subsequently, the murder of Mary Jane Kelly in October 1888 was also attributed to Jack the Ripper. As the killer responsible was never caught, the Victorian presses, as well as writers ever since, have been free to speculate on the identity of the ‘Whitechapel murderer’. The myths that have been created reveal more about the late Victorian society…show more content…
Stories of a single serial killer stalking London’s East End were based entirely around speculation since there was never any trace, nor information about the killer. The idea of a ‘Whitechapel murderer’ emerged from a series of conflicting interpretations of each of the killings alongside speculative stories about the killer’s identity. The suggestion of a single killer rapidly gained support from newspapers from early September 1888. “The police admit their belief that the three crimes are the work of one individual” . Newspapers such as the Star publicized the persona of a mysterious, bloody assassin, which proved a popular character amongst a changing Victorian society. The association of the murders with the alias, Jack the Ripper, gave notoriety to the unfolding events. This resounding idea of a single killer reflected underpinning anxieties about the ‘degraded’ state of Whitechapel; there were widespread fears about the descending state of London leading to savagery. The concept of a Whitechapel citizenship being a killer allowed the press to establish the murders as a media phenomenon. By focusing on social anxieties present at the time, such as class conflict and social disintegration, and fantasies on a single, elusive figure, which communicated to the mass public through newspaper, they were successfully able to create a moral…show more content…
Perhaps one of the first elements of the griping Ripper story was its setting. Notorious for its poverty and high volume of foreign immigrants, in particular Jews, Whitechapel became the perfect sensational backdrop for the murders. Reports began to emerge detailing the degraded conditions in which the crimes occurred, “Our civilisation is a wretched mockery while crimes like this are committed in our streets; its boasted resources are miserable ineffectual while monsters like the murderer or murderers of this unhappy woman walk abroad” , as well as a tendency to depict East London as a degenerate area that threatened the moral and physical health of the rest of the nation. ”…The lowest type of life in the East End rookeries is lower, mentally and morally, than the life of the average savage” . The social environment at the time also influenced the perception of Jack the Ripper. Darwinism cast a shadow over the nineteenth century; Charles Darwin had made it acceptable and fashionable for educated people to accept evolution. The concept of evolution proved unsettling to the Victorian masses; the idea that human kind belonged to this process, which implied human kind were a type of animal. Ideology based around repression of animalistic tendencies in humans began to circulate. If humans were able to evolve, was there a possibility of them

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