The Ripper's Menace in Victorian London Analytical Essay by Jay Writtings LLC

The Ripper's Menace in Victorian London
Analysis of late nineteenth-century Victorian London and how it was affected by the menace of Jack the Ripper.
# 120169 | 1,885 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Jun 06, 2010 in History (British) , Criminology (Public and Crime)

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This paper provides an overview of the societal challenges facing late nineteenth-century Victorian London, and how the menace of Jack the Ripper influenced the citizenry within that framework. The paper points out that industrialization and urban decay contributed to the fear that spread rapidly throughout London. In conclusion, the paper postulates that the Victorians not only feared their vulnerabilities to such cross-over cases as Jack the Ripper, but their own susceptibilities to becoming the feared monster, a failure of suppression or a devolution (in the context of Darwinian thought) of their species.

From the Paper:

"Jack the Ripper's reign of terror between 31 August and 9 November 1888, contained primarily within the small area of Whitechapel, seemed to confirm the suspicion that these horrific acts were indicative of the consequences of urban decay. The fears of these consequences, however, long preceded the autumn of terror, and are evident in Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, first published in 1886. As with the case of Jack the Ripper, the evil character of Mr. Hyde is associated with images of poverty, disease, moral corruption, and urban degeneration throughout the story. The building connected with Hyde, for example, is described as "sinister...discoloured...and bore in every feature the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence." (4). Hyde is described as giving "the impression of deformity without any namable malformation", as if his disease, like a pure form of evil, is hidden from the eye, but not the intuition (12). The implication is, perhaps, that Hyde suffers from a syphilitic deformation, of course associating him with immoral and deviant sexual habits, indulgence in prostitution or perhaps even in homosexual activities. Stevenson clearly locates Hyde within a Whitechapel-type region known as Soho, where degraded and decaying architecture and unmentionable sexual activities reputedly abounded, the perfect location for deviance."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • "The Whitechapel Murders", The East End News, 11 September 1888. From:
  • "Another Whitechapel Murder", The London Times, 10 November 1888, p. ( ).
  • "A Revolting Murder: Another woman found horribly mutilated in Whitechapel", The Star, 31 August 1888. From: :
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1993.
  • Walkowitz, Judith R. City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in LateVictorian London. University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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